A Conversation with Mayor Moore - Part 1

Over the last few months, I've sat down with Mayors Luecke and Rea in an effort to find out some things about them we may not have learned during their campaigns.

I did the same with Elkhart's Dick Moore.

He has worn a lot of hats, and his latest is as mayor of the City with a Heart.

Moore won the most recent election with 66 percent of the vote, on a platform of returning government to the people.

People told me “what you see is what you get” with Mayor Moore, and he would agree.

He's 74 years old, not afraid of controversy, and after 33 years in public service is showing no signs of slowing down.

Moore will admit that Elkhart has problems -- crime and drug use among the top.

But development along the riverfront by the past administration and continued development downtown are among Elkhart's shining achievements.

And he's proud to call Elkhart home.

“I actually was born in Mishawaka, but my mother moved to Elkhart when I was one year old,” he explains. “And since I was one year old, I thought I better come along.”

Come along he did, but he still spent most of his summers swimming and fishing along the St. Joseph River in his native Mishawaka.

“My grandparents actually pioneered that area of the St. Joseph River, which is the Jefferson Road/Buckeye Road area. They were the first people out there, and for a long time the only people out there,” Moore remembers. “As kids, we did a lot of fishing and we did a lot of playing there in the woods. We did some camping out.”

When he was a teen, those long lazy summers started changing, as they often do when we start growing up.

“I graduated from Elkhart High School in 1951. Shortly after graduation I went into the United States Navy and served there almost four years.”

That journey led him to ports of call such as North Africa and the French Riviera.

After leaving the Navy, Moore came home and began what would be 33 years as a public servant.

“Within a year and a half or so I was sworn in as an Elkhart firefighter, and spent 20 years there -- four years of that serving as chief of the Elkhart Fire Department,” he explains.

And as chief, he sadly lost three firefighters in the line of duty. Their names, always a reminder, are etched into a memorial along the riverfront.

Moore says his years as a firefighter sparked his interest in politics.

“I served as campaign chairman for former Mayor Jim Perron a couple of times,” he explains. “I always kind of liked to be the guy behind all of that and never wanted to be the campaigner.”

Moore also served 12 years as Elkhart's street commissioner.

The one role he never thought he would play, though, was that of mayor.

“The pressure was getting greater,” he admits. “I was comfortable in retirement. I have a grandson; he and I are just great friends. We go fishing on the river.”

But he hung up his pole and ran for mayor, calling it a clean race.

“In fact, my primary opponent is my executive assistant,” he proudly explains.

Proof that politics indeed makes for strange bedfellows.

I’ll continue my conversation with Mayor Moore Friday night on Newscenter 16 at 11:00.

We'll talk about the new smoking ban, the mayor’s run-in with the prosecutor over police, and his goals for the future.

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