Hey guys, I'm doing something a bit different this afternoon. Instead of the usual analysis or opinion piece, I'd like to introduce you all to a candidate for local office.
I reached out to Taylor Vanover last week to ask if he'd be interested in writing about why he's running for office. I hope this will show you why he is a candidate worth supporting. The following is Vanover's explanation for why he wants to represent Fort Wayne's 5th District.
- Tyler Bauer
Meet a Candidate: Taylor Vanover
My name is Taylor Vanover and I’m running for Fort Wayne City Council in the 5th District. I’ve lived in the 5th district, in the 46807 zip code for just over five years. I come to love the neighborhoods around me and recently purchased a home in the Oakdale neighborhood area. I grew up South of Fort Wayne in the small, rural town of Dillman.
Like many sons or daughters of entrepreneurs, I was raised as much in the family business as is my home. My father co-founded Clean Fuels National just over eighteen years ago with my grandfather and uncle. Through hard work and diligence the business has grown to over eighty employees. In the last year, he bought out his other family members. I’ve been fortunate to grow up alongside the business, accompanying my father cleaning fuel tanks and going to meetings. I’ve seen the effect of our business on the men and women who have worked with my dad and on our small community in Wells County. Small business is the lifeblood of the Hoosier economy and I’m proud that my family and I are part of growing our business and the regional economy.
I’ve learned two great lessons working with my dad: 1) That nothing is gained without risk, and 2) That constant improvement is necessary for growth and prosperity. When I decided to run in the 5th district, I regularly heard that the district was predisposed to different political party and that the incumbent has been in government for more than thirty years. This race is certainly a risk. With risks come rewards; an entrenched party man who seldom attends neighborhood meetings, sits idly by as infrastructure deteriorates in the neighborhoods is a status quo I refuse to accept. I’m running because I know we can do better. I firmly believe that with hard work, constant engagement with the neighborhoods in the 5th district and by keeping a watchful eye on broken infrastructure, that better, stronger neighborhoods are only a few years away. I’m also concerned that if we don’t have change soon, our neighborhoods will be forgotten and fall in disrepair that will be exponentially more expensive to fix.
My campaign is focused on three key issues:
- Providing advocacy for our neighborhoods: Balancing downtown costs and priorities with the ongoing needs of infrastructure in our neighborhoods.
- Encouraging community-oriented policing: that is assigning our police officers specific geographic areas so they come to know neighbors to work with them to create safer neighborhoods,
- Creating a more fiscally responsible Fort Wayne: Through proper planning, allowing more risk to developers in economic development projects and limiting bonding our city will continue to grow and prosper without risking financial insecurity and downgraded bond ratings.
Our sidewalks, streets, sewers, and lights are the face of our neighborhoods and our community. I am convinced that James Q. Wilson was correct about “broken windows:”
“Consider a building with a few broken windows. If the windows are not repaired, the tendency is for vandals to break a few more windows. Eventually, they may even break into the building, and if it's unoccupied, perhaps become squatters or light fires inside. Or consider a sidewalk. Some litter accumulates. Soon, more litter accumulates. Eventually, people even start leaving bags of trash from take-out restaurants there or even break into cars.”
Broken infrastructure is a community “broken window.” Ignoring small issues now will lead to major, more expensive issues later. It’s important that the 5th District councilman recognizes this and is ready to be a vocal and relentless neighborhood advocate. I’m running to be exactly this type of advocate and I’m running because the 5th District doesn’t have that currently.
Community safety is the most fundamental function of city government. Community policing helps police officers and neighbors build a sense of trust and mutual respect. Community policing also recognizes that police can’t solve public safety problems alone. Police who are assigned to a geographic beat and who know their assigned areas are better equipped to work with residents they know and who know them. These relationships can help with identifying suspicious activity and to stop break-ins and robberies before they occur.
According to a report done by Truth in Accounting, there is a $204.9 million gap between Fort Wayne’s non-capital bills and its available assets. This means that every taxpayer is liable for $2,500 in unsecured city debt. The city’s hidden debt amounts to $89.1 million. Much of this unsecured debt comes in the form of unfunded pensions. The city has a legal obligation to provide promised pensions. Using unfunded pensions as a means to balance a budget is not responsible. We need to recognize our obligations and find a way to meet them. We also need to reduce long-term borrowing for road, sewer, and other repairs so that the term of the bond doesn’t exceed the life of the repair.
Our public employees are very important in so many ways and they should as well not have to worry about the local government underfunding their pensions. I will work to adequately fund their pensions as required by law.
Republican Candidate for Fifth District City Council