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Mishawaka December Communicator – A Letter from Mayor Wood

The beginning of each holiday season reminds us of the gifts shared each year, especially those from friends and family. One gift I have been humbled and honored to receive is the gift to represent you as the Mayor of Mishawaka. Words cannot begin to express my gratitude and appreciation for your support and confidence in selecting me for another term starting in January 2024, as well as my three previous terms. I could not have served as your Mayor without the help and support of my wife Jaimi, our family, and dedicated city employees who continually provide vital services to Mishawaka’s citizens.

While I was afforded the opportunity to run unopposed this election year, I was able to see many things about Mishawaka that made me incredibly proud and yet confirm there is still work to do.  We will always be mindful of fiscal responsibility, community needs and setting priorities. Looking forward, my top priorities include:

– Public safety is public service #1 and will remain top priority. This means continued clean, safe and welcoming neighborhoods.

– City services and utilities which citizens can depend on for their health and safety

– Excellent infrastructure with roads that are well cared for from paving to plowing

– Economic development including the completion of the new athletic facility, new fire station and continued mixed-use development downtown

– Continued quality-of-life investments with park improvements to Rose, Normain, Crawford, Battell, RiverWalk and others

– Fiscally conservative budget management with honestly balanced budgets that fund the needs of our growing city

Looking back, two accomplishments I’m most proud of are safety and population growth.  Overall crime has decreased 11 of my 13 years in office including another 6.5% drop in 2022, all while our city is growing. Population growth is the single biggest indicator about whether a community is succeeding, thriving, struggling, or dying.  According to the US 2020 census, Mishawaka is growing! – over 6% – taking us above 50,000 for the first time in City history.  This makes us among the fastest growing cities in Indiana. With lower crime rates, welcoming neighbors, and beautiful public spaces, it is easy to see why Mishawaka is growing.

Speaking of welcoming, this January there will be three new Mishawaka Common Council representatives sworn in. Your council will include:  Woody Emmons (District 1), Matt Carroll(District 2), Tony Hazen (District 3), Kate Voelker (District 4), Tony Violi (District 5), and Ron Banicki (District 6) and at large –  Lacy Hahn,  Gregg Hixenbaugh, and Matt Mammolenti. I am thrilled to be working with this honorable group of citizen leaders.  Each of them brings a different skill set, passion, and background to the table. I know them each personally and can assure you each loves this community and will work diligently to represent our beloved Princess City. When we as public servants work collaboratively and in the best interests of our citizens, the people of Mishawaka benefit.  Our Mishawaka City Government strives towards our shared goals of having a safe, resilient and growing Mishawaka.  Do we disagree from time to time? Yes.  But even then, it’s the civility and respect for each other that’s the secret sauce of what keeps Mishawaka thriving. I am confident  that we will continue to value City over party and public service over politics.

I would also like to voice my special thanks and sincere gratitude to Common Council members – Mike Bellovich (2nd), Michael Compton (5th), and Maggie DeMaegd (At Large) who have served our Princess City with passion and distinction.

I also look forward to continuing to involve our youth in roles of leadership and service to others.  Mishawaka’s youth will continue to be a major priority for my wife Jaimi and I. Our Mayor’s Youth Advisory Council is a group of students from the area High Schools who reside in the City of Mishawaka.  These exceptional young leaders have designed, raised funds for and built parks. They have served by annually giving Thanksgiving meals to Mishawaka families in need. They have also served at public events hosted by our Parks Department and enjoyed meeting “The Future MYACers.” These students further impress me by expanding their skills though leadership development opportunities offered by the Accelerated Indiana Municipalities Youth Leadership and the Indiana Housing & Community Development Authority. With over 250 MYAC alumni making a difference in Mishawka and beyond, our city has a lot to look forward to and can be proud of what these young leaders have accomplished.

This brings me to another gift I am grateful for during the holiday season. I am most thankful for YOU! Citizens of Mishawaka’s support can be seen throughout our Mishawaka community. From attending a Parks event, voting, buying from local restaurants and retailers to picking up a piece of trash on the sidewalk or giving a smile to someone around town. This generosity is the foundation of our community … our Mishawaka family. It is a gift and a privilege to be your Mayor and I cherish being part of the Princess City. I pledge to you to do my absolute best to represent you, hear you, work with and for you.  My drive to serve our community is never greater and my appreciation of you grows each day. Thank you for giving me that opportunity. Wishing you and yours a blessed Holiday Season!