Goshen News, Goshen, IN

September 8, 2013

NEXT IN LINE: A look at names to watch for in 2015 mayor's race

By JOHN KLINE
THE GOSHEN NEWS

— GOSHEN — Who would you like to see as the next mayor of Goshen?

Mayor Allan Kauffman has said he will not seek another term once his current term ends in another two years. True, a man can change his mind, but at this point it’s not looking likely.

While it may seem a bit premature to be thinking about who may be waiting in the wings to try and fill that impending vacancy, as I was recently reminded by a certain Goshen City Councilman (Ed Ahlersmeyer) following an inquiry into the matter, “It’s never too early.”

In light of that statement, we at The News thought it might be interesting to start putting out some feelers to see just who the political winds may be rustling up as far as potential candidates for the 2015 mayoral election.

And what better way to begin such an inquiry than to go straight to the source: Mayor Kauffman.

To begin with, Kauffman offered up his thoughts on potential candidates from his own Democratic party.

“The only Democrat who I’ve heard is interested so far is Jeremy Stutsman,” Kauffman said of Stutsman, one of three Democrats currently sitting on the seven-member Goshen City Council. “My guess is he’s 90 percent decided to run, and has his wife’s support to do it, which is critical. He also has a high-profile person who will be his campaign manager if he runs. But he’s not committed yet.”

For his part, Stutsman confirmed his interest in seeking the mayoral seat during a phone interview Friday afternoon, though he didn’t go so far as to say it’s a done deal.

“I’m definitely thinking about it, but I’m nowhere to the point in the whole process to be ready to announce,” Stutsman said. “First I need to look into fundraising, and I also love the work I’m doing with my current company, Lofty Ideas. I really love the city work, but I’ve got to talk to my wife and see how we are with my business and see what we’re going to do. But with past election results I’ve had, I feel like I’m in a pretty good position if I decided to pursue it.”

Moving on to potential Republican candidates, Kauffman said he has heard several names mentioned as having interest in the position, but nothing truly concrete as of yet.

“I’ve heard some names who may have interest, but don’t know how accurate some sources are,” Kauffman said. “Among those I’ve heard may be interested are Tom Stump, Kelly Huffman, Jim McKee, Ed Ahlersmeyer and Wes Culver.”

For Ahlersmeyer, that rumor appears to be false, at least for the time being.

“There are a number of individuals I would support running for mayor, yet I believe they are only considering at this point,” Ahlersmeyer said. “As for myself, I only look to continue to represent Goshen’s second district. I’m certain we’ll have a little better idea of who our candidates will be in the spring of 2014.”

In referencing Culver’s possible bid for the position, Kauffman noted that the current Republican member of the Indiana House of Representatives will likely have some big decisions to make over the next year if a bid for the mayor’s seat is in fact in his immediate future.

“I asked Wes Culver if it’s true he is considering it, and his response was, ‘It wouldn’t be one of my saner moments.’ But that isn’t a no,” Kauffman said. “If he’s thinking of it, he has a decision to make next year about running for State Representative. If he runs for re-election, surely he’ll be asked if he plans to finish his term.”

Kauffman also mentioned some potential conflicts surrounding rumors that Stump, currently a member of the Elkhart County Council, and Huffman, who currently sits on the Goshen Board of Zoning Appeals, may have their sights set on some alternate political posts as well.

“I’ve also heard Tom Stump may be running for County Commissioner and Kelly Huffman may run for Tom’s County Council seat,” Kauffman said. “So there are all kinds of rumors and speculation floating around.”

Stump said Saturday that he has looked at the possibility of a mayoral run as well as a run for county commissioner but has yet to make a final decision.