Local town council candidates were asked three questions about running for the position.
Today’s answers are from incumbents Tim Croy and Shelly Krueger and candidate Hannah Beliles, who are running for Mentone Town Council. Incumbent Jill Gross is also running, but she did not respond by the deadline.
Question 1: What is your background and why do you think you'd be a good fit for town council?
Croy: Married to Jacqueline 37 years. We have seven children, 28 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.
I've served on the Kosciusko County Community Action Council, worked with the Burket Boy Scouts, Habitat for Humanity; served 18 years on the Mentone EMS, 20 years on the Mentone Fire Department; president of the Lawrence D. Bell/Mentone Historical Museum.
I'm the vice president of the Mentone Chamber of Commerce and 20 years on the Mentone Town Council.
I feel that I'm a good fit for the town council due to all the organizations that I have served on and currently serve on. I'm here to serve our community in any way that I can.
Krueger: My husband and I have lived in the Mentone community for 38 years, and raised eight children here. I homeschooled our children, seven have college degrees and five served in the U. S. Army.
I started the Mentone Community Farmer’s Market in 2010 and was a part of Big Brothers, Big Sisters for four years. I have worked in libraries for over 20 years, most of that time working with teens. Mentone is my home, it is a great community to live in and raise a family.
I have served Mentone in a professional capacity for 12 years and I consider it a great privilege to serve this community and make it one of the best small towns to live in.
Beliles: Outside of the few years I went to college, I have lived in Mentone for the majority of my life, which is nearly three decades. I have seen it go through various stages, including different people, events and other things come and go.
I’m a problem solver that likes to find ways to improve things I care about, including where I live. This is also why I graduated with a bachelor’s in informatics, which is a degree that focuses on both understanding technology and making the technology work with the user and organization efficiently. This education has equipped me with the skills to analyze complex challenges and find practical solutions.
I have volunteered over the years, such as working at the county animal shelter and helping the Mentone library for random events. I often try to take advantage of my own interests to help others, such as my interest in books and animals being used for volunteer work. I have been meaning to improve my contribution to the community in my own way.
Question 2: What do you think are the most important issues facing Mentone and why?
Croy: I believe the biggest issues that we as a community need to be concerned with is hiring a new town marshal, as well as affordable housing and/or working to expand our community by annexation. We also, as a community, have a great concern about our EMS and what can we do if they aren't able to continue their service to our community.
Krueger: Some of the important issues facing Mentone is the need for land to expand the town and make room for more housing and industry.
Mentone needs more funding to upgrade the town's sidewalks and curbs and I would like to see a small satellite YMCA in town.
Beliles: Mentone is facing challenges related to a lack of community connection and spirit. On one hand, many town decisions occur with limited public awareness, making it hard for regular townies to get involved. On the other hand, there’s been a declining sense of community engagement among residents as they seem to lack a connection to the town.
One significant obstacle is the lack of transparency and communication regarding town operations and access to essential documents like zoning laws. While recent efforts have been made to improve the situation, such as creating an official town website with links to important resources, finding relevant documentation remains challenging. In an age when the internet has made information more accessible, a lot of these need to be streamlined.
Question 3: What do you think the role of the town council should be?
Croy: As a council member it's never about what "I" have done because like they say "there's no I in team," we are all in this together and we are here to listen to our community and make our decisions based on what the community wants. I'm not going to make any promises or say I'm running for the council position because I want to do this or that. It's our job to discuss issues and then base our discussion on what we as a community want. I'm out and about town all the time talking and listening to our community to get a feel for what they want to see, not what I want to see.
All I can say is do your research and vote for whoever you feel will do their best at standing by the community.
I love our community and always will and if I don't get your vote that's okay, it won't keep me from doing the things that I do.
God bless you all, and thank you for making Mentone what we are today.
Krueger: Our role is to ensure that Mentone has a police department to keep the citizens of this community safe, manage employees, the town’s budget and seek funding for future projects, such as the current park initiative.
Beliles: While town councils typically manage essential tasks like budgeting and lawmaking, one often overlooked but crucial duty is actively listening to residents' concerns and needs. I want to improve on engagement from other townies to be able to make more informed decisions and to improve community involvement in general. It’s important for those in power to both fulfill basic obligations like the job responsibilities listed for the positions and to keep looking for ways to better serve the role. It is also important to try to keep a humble-headed view to prevent getting to full of yourself and not being willing to listen to other points of view.