Goshen Republican candidate for mayor, Terry T. Snyder, dies

Terry T. Snyder

GOSHEN — Terry T. Snyder, the Goshen Republican who had been seeking his party’s nomination for Goshen mayor in the upcoming May 7 municipal primary election, died Saturday at his home as the result of undisclosed health issues.

Snyder, 77, had filed his candidacy paperwork at the Elkhart County Clerk’s office back in February. As the sole Republican mayoral candidate, Snyder had been hoping to unseat current Goshen Mayor Jeremy Stutsman, a Democrat, who is seeking a second term.

“It’s tragic. It was definitely a surprise. He had let me know that he had some health challenges early on. I don’t think he was hiding anything. But it was apparently a very sudden thing and a very serious diagnosis,” Dan Holtz, chairman of the Elkhart County Republican Party, said Monday of Snyder’s passing. “I do want to just say that he has been a stalwart of the local Republican Party, and he’s been a stalwart in the city of Goshen, having worked in the city and served the county at different times. He will be missed.”

Mayor Stutsman also offered a few words of condolence Monday in response to the news of Snyder’s passing.

“My heart obviously goes out to the family. Terry has been involved in our community for many, many years in many different capacities. He recently put his name up to run for mayor of the city of Goshen, and I just think that shows, after being so involved for so many years, and still wanting to be involved, that really shows his character and love of this community,” Stutsman said. “I’ve known Terry for, I don’t even know how many years. It’s been a while. And when I first started construction, I actually worked on some projects with him. So he’s going to be missed.”

Following Snyder’s unexpected passing over the weekend, the Elkhart County Republican Party is examining its options for a replacement candidate, though party officials have indicated that it is likely too late in the process to have a new candidate slated by the May 7 primary.

“I haven’t gotten with the county clerk yet just to make sure that we’ve reviewed statute on this particular issue. This is pretty rare,” Holtz said of the situation. “To have someone pass in the 30-day window prior to an election is kind of an unusual situation.”

According to the Elkhart County Election Board, which Monday afternoon issued a statement addressing Snyder’s passing, there is currently no mechanism to replace a candidate on the ballot when the ballots have already been sent out.

“According to state statutes, the Election Board does not have the authority to remove his name from the Republican municipal primary ballot for the city of Goshen,” the release stated. “The Election Board asks that you keep the Snyder family in your thoughts and respect their need for privacy during this difficult time. The Election Board, the Clerk’s Office and the Office of Voter Registration send their deepest sympathies to the Snyder Family.”

As such, Holtz encouraged voters who were planning to support Snyder or the Republican Party to vote for Snyder during the primary election, with the understanding that the party is planning on finding a replacement candidate via caucus in the coming weeks.

“At some point, we will be meeting to replace him on the ballot. But as I said, I haven’t had a chance to get with the County Clerk to know what the time horizon is for that,” Holtz said of the party’s next steps. “Typically, if someone were to just resign, the Republican or Democratic parties have 30 days from when they were officially notified of a vacancy to fill it, and that would be done via caucus. So I think we’ll see what we can do and make a determination based on what the statute says.”

FAMILY TIED TO GOSHEN

A Goshen native, Snyder’s family has lived in the Goshen area for five generations.

Following his graduation from Goshen High School in 1959, Snyder went immediately into the workforce as a local electrician, a job he would stick with for the better part of 60 years as owner and operator of Snyder Electric.

No stranger to local government or the political process in general, Snyder spent 11 years as building commissioner and chief electrical inspector for the city. He was also named the city’s first housing code inspector.

Describing himself as a life-long Republican, Snyder wore many political hats over the years, including being elected to the office of Elkhart County Assessor from 1994 to 1999, and serving for over 30 years as a precinct committeeman.

While not initially interested in entering the mayor’s race this year, Snyder noted back in February that he was urged to action upon learning that several Republican members of the Goshen City Council, as well as the city’s Republican clerk-treasurer, had endorsed Mayor Stutsman’s bid for a second term.

“If somebody else in the Republican Party would have run for mayor, I wouldn’t have even considered it,” Snyder said following his filing earlier this year. “But when that position was open and nobody seemed to care about having a candidate representing the Republican Party, I felt a duty that I had to run so that the people have a choice.”

Snyder lived in Goshen with his wife of over 50 years, Shirley. Together they have five grown children.

Visitation for Snyder will be held from 2 to 4 and 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday at Yoder-Culp Funeral Home, 1911 S. Main St., Goshen.

A funeral service will be held at 10 a.m. Wednesday at the First Presbyterian Church, 215 E. Lincoln Ave., Goshen.

Burial will take place in Violett Cemetery, Goshen, at a later date.

John Kline can be reached at john.kline@goshennews.com or 574-533-2151, ext. 315. Follow John on Twitter @jkline_TGN

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