Goshen News, Goshen, IN

Local News

October 3, 2011

DECISION 2011: Mayoral candidates Kauffman and Riegsecker square off in forum

GOSHEN — Monday’s mayoral forum at Goshen College drew some sharp distinctions between incumbent Allan Kauffman and Republican challenger Don Riegsecker.

Kauffman, a Democrat who’s been in office for 14 years, relied heavily on his record while Riegsecker often questioned the results and direction the city is headed.

The two sparred in polite fashion over job recruitment, the reputation of the city and the lingering opinions of the 2009 anti-discrimination ordinance over sexual orientation.

Kauffman pointed to the strong fiscal state of the city, noting that the city’s reserves leave the city in possibly the best position possible to weather any economic storms on the horizon.

Meanwhile, Riegsecker repeatedly expressed the need to bring more jobs to Goshen and create a more conducive environment for employers.

Possibly the most defining moment of the debate came when the candidates were asked what was more important in recruiting businesses — the quality of life or the economy.

Riegsecker pointed to the issue of bike paths and said he likes the idea, but thinks the city needs to shelve expansion of the paths for the time being.

“The economy is the first priority in my administration,” Riegsecker said. “We need to get everybody back to work so we can continue this quality of life.

“Companies aren’t coming here right now for the bike paths. The manufacturers are looking around Goshen, they’re looking around Elkhart, they’re looking around Nappanee for what you will give them. I know that sounds bad. You’re going to have to give them something. You might have to give them tax abatement. You might have to do other things.

“They’re not looking for that quality of life,” he continued. “They’re just looking for the bottom dollar right now.”

Kauffman seized on the issue.

“I couldn’t disagree more on that,” Kauffman said, suggesting local taxes were not a top priority for companies looking to open a business somewhere. “I believe the quality of life is the most important foundation to increasing our economy.

“If we can attract the young entrepreneurs like the way we are right now in our economy, jobs are going to come to where those people are. There is no one thing to laser in on to make this happen. It’s a holistic approach.”

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