PORTAGE — This year's race for mayor is unique in that each candidate has held the position this year in the wake of former Republican Mayor James Snyder's federal conviction in February on bribery and tax obstruction charges.
Democrat Sue Lynch took over as mayor for a couple of weeks by virtue of her position as city council president.
She was then replaced at the start of March by Republican John Cannon, who was voted in by Republican precinct officials to finish the term of fellow GOP member Snyder.
"I am running for mayor because it is time to bring fiscal responsibility, honesty, integrity and transparency back to our city," Lynch said. "It is time to put politics aside and work for all citizens. Now more than ever we need a person with leadership skills and experience working with our business community, our schools, our employees and our citizens. After eight long years of negative headlines it is time to move forward and create a positive image for our city."
Cannon said he is running, "to ensure that city government continues to serve you, and not the other way around."
"I aspire to be the mayor that joins generations together to accomplish what they couldn't accomplish individually," he said. "I aspire to combine a generation that enjoys faith, happiness, a slower pace and confidence with the generation that is our future — and equipped with energy and 'tech smarts.'"
"I will make decency new again," Cannon said. "I will listen to opposing views by having an open mind. I will make common sense in local government popular again."
Lynch said her top goals include getting the city's finances in order in the wake of "living 'paycheck to paycheck,' spending money that was not budgeted for, and running our city into debt."
She also intends to focus on downtown development by updating the city's 11-year-old master plan to create a "new, shared vision."
Infrastructure improvements are also a priority, including "the west side of our city, a plan we develop and stick to, without going over budget," she said.
Cannon said communication is among his top priorities, which includes publishing a weekly city address and using social media and the city's website to inform and update residents.
He also intends to undertake a comprehensive sidewalk plan targeting uncompleted sidewalks — ensuring sidewalks from schools, connecting neighborhoods, connecting sidewalks with shopping and parks — and addressing needs in older neighborhoods.
Cannon wants to prioritize infrastructure needs, including finishing an effort to pave Willowcreek Road from U.S. 20 to U.S. 6. He also is targeting LED lighting south of U.S. 6, renewing the west side drainage system and addressing lighting needs along U.S. 6 from County Line Road to Airport Road.
Lynch is a retired office manager from Calumet Park Cemetery and had served as executive director of the non-profit environmental organization People Against Hazardous Landfill Sites (PAHLS).
She has served on the Portage City Council since 2008 and had held other local elected offices.
Lynch also is a member of the Portage Historical Society, several veterans groups, the Indiana Sheriff's Association and the Police Memorial Fund that assists widows of fallen officers.
She is chairwoman of the Mayor's Senior Advisory Committee and the Porter County Recycling and Waste Reduction Board. Lynch is an active member of St. Peter Lutheran Church.
Cannon, who served on the city council for seven years, worked as a district manager for 13 years with a multimillion budget.
"I am the only candidate running for mayor who has actual experience handing the day-to-day operations and the immense pressure of an organization of this size for 13 years," he said. "I am the only candidate who has this level of leadership experience."
Cannon said he served as a volunteer coach for high school basketball for six years.
Lych said what sets her apart from her opponent is her 12 years on the city council.
"I am able to converse and communicate well with our business community, our county officials and our state legislators," she said. "I know how to manage people and budgets."
"I am a consensus builder and believe there is no 'I' in team," Lynch said. "There will be no room for politics in my administration. If elected I will be a Mayor for all of our citizens."
Cannon said what distinguishes him is his ability to think on his feet and be nimble.
"I am able to make firm decisions while also being mindful of all parties involved," he said. "I react calmly when under pressure, and I don't give up."