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Time a factor in Columbia City mayor’s race

From The Fort Wayne News-Sentinel:

By Bob Caylor of The News-Sentinel
In Columbia City’s mayoral race, three Republicans from different generations and varied lines of work who are competing for the nomination Tuesday draw distinctions among themselves on several points, particularly the importance of having a full-time mayor.

Donald Sexton, 66, is a vice president at Lake City Bank who’s serving his second term on City Council and has been a banker since 1972. Gary “Big G” Parrett, 42, is a Columbia City police officer who also owns Big G’s Sports Cafe in Columbia City. Ryan Daniel, 26, resigned from his job with the state’s Office of Community and Rural Affairs to run for mayor.

Daniel can be quick with a joke about his youth, but he’s not kidding when he explains the strengths he would bring to the office of mayor after working in economic development targeted for small towns. He said he has worked with more than 20 mayors in northeast Indiana on economic- and community-development projects. He also said he’s been endorsed by mayors in Warsaw, Ligonier, Portland, Nappanee and Huntington.

Parrett says his appetite for hard work would be a great advantage as mayor. He describes growing up in a family that scraped by, and he’s usually worked more than one job at a time in his adult life, often in restaurants, but he also was a foreman for an excavating company before he joined the Columbia City Police Department.

“I don’t hunt, I don’t fish, I don’t golf; my hobby is work,” he wrote in a campaign flier.

Parrett said top priorities for him would be maintaining the level of city services – or restoring the quality of services that have declined – without raising taxes. Providing good trash collection and avoiding big increases in utility costs are crucial. He said he understands city residents’ concern about utility costs, saying he pays $1,500 to $2,000 per month for his home and the sports cafe combined.

Sexton said his career in banking has helped make him the kind of salesman who can sell prospective businesses on Columbia City as a site for relocation or expansion. His top priorities are developing a systematic plan to maintain and improve infrastructure, promoting economic development and stopping “ineffective spending.”

To set a new tone on spending, Sexton said, the city won’t furnish him with a car if he’s elected. The city furnishes a car for current mayor Jim Fleck, a Democrat, who is not seeking re-election.

An important division among the candidates is whether the office of mayor requires full-time hours. Sexton would retain his post at Lake City if he’s elected, but Parrett and Daniel both emphasize that they would be “full-time” mayors. Parrett said he would resign or take a leave of absence from the police department.

Sexton said he can handle both jobs by managing his time.


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