A Conversation with Mayor Moore - Part 2

He's 74 years old and has been a public servant for 33 of those years.

He served in the Navy, he's been a fire chief and a street commissioner, and now he's the mayor of Elkhart.

Mayor Dick Moore is serious about turning things around in his city, and he doesn't plan on swimming upstream.

“Our economic development summit will take place in September. We'll bring in the best and the brightest minds we can,” he says optimistically.

Elkhart may be the RV capital of the world, but he says an ailing economy means they need to look in a new, high-tech direction.

Moore hopes his city can benefit from Notre Dame's 60-million-dollar research consortium for nanoelectronics.

“We certainly jumped in right away and at least let the University of Notre Dame know that we understand what nano means, and that we're the guy right over here on the east edge of you, and please don't forget us, because we'd like to be a part of that if there's any overflow,” he explains.

Moore admits crime is a big issue in his city, which is one of the reasons he pulled four officers from the drug task force to put back on the streets.

Prosecutor Curtis Hill was highly critical.

"I can certainly tell you that, when it comes to fighting crime, Mayor Moore doesn't know his asphalt from a hole in the ground," Hill said at a press conference.

“Good reference, I guess, to my street department day,” Moore says, laughing. “His comments are his comments -- they're not mine. I'm not at war with Mr. Hill at all. I represent the people of the city of Elkhart. We needed a crime initiative here, and we've established Crime Initiative 2008.”

He is also not bothered by those who criticize his signature on one of the toughest smoking bans in Michiana.

“Every instance I know of, business has increased, and so I've been able to tell people, based on what I know, that you're going to lose one smoker and you are going to gain two non-smokers,” Moore explains.

And he says the property tax reform bill passed downstate is a thing of the past, and that his city is moving forward.

“I looked at a 57-million-dollar budget right away. I locked up all expenditures right away, even though it was appropriated for expenditures in 2008, the department head could not go ahead with that expenditure without coming to this office. The department head had to prove to me that that’s a need, and not just a want,” says Moore. “We probably will not have to lay off any people, and we probably will not diminish any of our services we are now providing for the people.”

Mayor Moore says he doesn't aspire to higher office. He enjoys being close to the people.

So once this 74-year-old mayor finally retires, how does he want to be remembered?

“I tell it like it is,” he says. “Dick Moore has always told it like it is, and he was a guy that knew how to get the job done. I think that would be good enough for me.”

Mayor Moore won the mayoral race with 66 percent of the vote.

His platform was based on returning government to the people, which is something he plans to continue doing.

For part one of this series, visit the story titled A Conversation with Mayor Moore - Part 1

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