Dermody, Stabosz vie for mayor on GOP ticket
La PORTE — With the primary election only months away, the anticipation to find out who will be the next mayor of La Porte is raging.
The primary on May 7 will determine which of the candidates on the Republican ballot, Tom Dermody or Timothy Stabosz, will face Democrat Matt Wilhelm in November. Wilhelm, who filed to run for mayor on Feb. 8, is running unopposed.
Dermody announced his mayoral candidacy early last year.
“I am inspired to run because La Porte has been a great place for me to raise a family, develop meaningful friendships and have a fulfilling career,” he said. “As a former small business owner, I know first-hand what this community has to offer economically. I want to make La Porte a place where families choose to move. I want people to work, play and raise their families here. I know the great potential this city has and I want to lead it to realize its full potential. As mayor, I will expect to win and I will work tirelessly to achieve success for the City of La Porte and its residents.”
Dermody was formerly an Indiana State Representative and La Porte School Board member.
“As a school board member and as a State Representative I always fulfilled my obligations. One simple and very important lesson taught to me by my parents and Coach (Ken) Schreiber — never quit,” Dermody said. “La Porte has provided me so much growing up that my focus is giving back to our community. I have no plans to leave and pursue anything else during my term as mayor. As mayor I will be fully vested in as La Porte’s hardest worker, greatest advocate and spokesperson. La Porte will be a winning community.”
Dermody said, under his administration, the city would work hard to make advancements in several areas, including the redevelopment of La Porte’s downtown and attracting business to NewPorte Landing.
“While some of these projects have begun and are in process, there is still work to be done,” he said. “We have a fantastic opportunity to transform the City of La Porte in a manner that benefits everyone in our community. La Porte has qualities that are envied by other communities, such as our lakes, geographic location, schools and most importantly our community. We must continue to improve and bolster these assets in ways that enhance the quality of life for the residents La Porte.”
Residential code enforcement, said Dermody, will be a top priority starting day one.
“For far too long, we have accepted the existence of dilapidated buildings and done little to stop it,” he said. “I will immediately partner with community leaders and citizens to combat the opioid epidemic in our community. It will require all of us working together, but it can be done.”
Dermody’s plan for the city includes quality job development and healthy quality of life.
“I want to encourage future generations to not only move back to La Porte but also to remain in La Porte to work and raise their families,” he said. “We will achieve these goals by working together to optimize our assets, developing and maintaining a Gold Star Workforce, partnering with local, regional and statewide entities, focusing on creating high a quality infrastructure for our citizens and business community as well, by supporting our business community.”
When asked about his concerns about his opponent Dermody responded, “I’m focused on running for Mayor of La Porte, not against any person. I will continue to spend my time focusing on the positive programs and ideas for La Porte. We need optimistic leaders who are committed to working together on behalf of the whole city and who believe in this community and are not afraid to be bold in their actions.”
Stabosz, an At-Large City Councilman, recently announced his intention to run for mayor in the coming election. Becoming mayor is something Stabosz feels will best aid in achieving his dreams for La Porte.
“I was inspired to run for mayor because I have carried a vision inside of me for a long time of where La Porte needs to go, and how to get there,” Stabosz said. “I realize that being one of seven on a city council doesn’t provide the form of leadership to be able to get important things done. One needs to be the chief, the figure of inspiration, and the priority setter to ‘make things happen.’”
Stabosz has almost completed two full terms on the City Council and is gearing up for a new challenge once this term is up.
“With the experience I have gained, I am ready to step into a role of complete service, where I am prepared to ‘give myself over’ to the citizens of La Porte, a city whose people, and whose environment (both natural and built), I love so much,” he said. “I have the time, the energy and fortunately the health, to do so.”
Being that he can only run for one office during the November election, his pursuit for mayor will make him ineligible to run for re-election to the City Council.
“I am ready to give up my seat on the council, although I do enjoy being part of a deliberative body,” Stabosz said. “And I enjoy the representative function a city councilman fulfills, of helping out people with problems, and being their “connection” to city government. I have always enjoyed making people feel that they matter, and that their needs and concerns are important. That is a key part of earning one’s leadership role...to be humble, to listen and to care about people.”
Stabosz said he has intentions of making La Porte a “Quality of Life Destination” by working to enhance the city’s strengths and improve overall livability.
“Under a Stabosz administration, the pace of improvements in the downtown would pick up, and outside investors would have the strongest faith they have had in a generation or more that the city is committed to bringing the downtown back. Our downtown is the soul of the city, so important to our community’s overall image,” Stabosz said. “Rehabilitation of the worst facades downtown, improvements in the upkeep of the brick sidewalks (some of which are failing), replacing inappropriately sized trees so there is consistency downtown, and sprucing up benches and garbage cans, are all part of making sure the city is seen as desirable to new investment.”
Sidewalks are a particularly important issue for Stabosz.
“Sidewalk conditions are a public safety menace, an economic development hindrance and a health and welfare issue,” Stabosz said. “It breaks my heart to see the elderly, handicapped in wheelchairs or mothers with strollers, walking in the street, because of sidewalk condition. I can’t tell you how many reports I have received of people having to go to the emergency room because of injuries sustained from falling on a broken sidewalk.”
Stabosz said putting the cost of sidewalk replacement on residents is not fair.
“We wouldn’t do that with streets, and we shouldn’t do it with sidewalks,” he said. “The city could sell a bond, spread over the cost of 30 years, and get a very low interest rate, which would make replacement of sidewalks throughout the city affordable. The current system is not getting ahead of the problem.”
Stabosz considers his loyalty to the city to be what makes him a stand out candidate. As a 27-year La Porte resident, he said he is not going anywhere.
“I have seven years of experience of having served in city government already. I am absolutely committed to finishing my term, if elected,” he said. “I have no higher ambitions, politically.”
Stabosz said he is seeking the office because he wants to be the agent of implementation.
“I want and intend to stay very close to the department heads, to the council and to the people, and build a great team,” he said. “I believe in empowering people. I believe in the noble calling of public service.”
Stabosz added that he sees running for mayor as a job interview, not a popularity contest.
“I don’t ‘need’ to be mayor. I know that it is my job to present to the people, over the next several months, my vision and strategy for La Porte, to evidence to them that I am the right choice, and I intend to honestly and forthrightly do that,” he said. “I believe it is my job to earn the support of the people calmly and soberly. In a Stabosz administration, everyone would have a seat at the table, and be treated fairly, with equality and dignity. No ‘in crowd’ stuff.”