DOWAGIAC — Dowagiac city voters have only one contested race to decide Nov. 5. Three Dowagiac City Council candidates are running unopposed, while two people are vying to become the next city clerk.
Those in uncontested races for new four year terms on the council are James Dodd, Randy Gross and Danielle Lucas. Dodd represents the Second Ward, Gross the Third Ward and Lucas the First Ward.
Gross was appointed to the council in August after Charles Burling resigned. Gross had been the only one meeting the August filing deadline to run for that seat.
In the city clerk’s race, newcomers Bill Leonard and Patty Patano are vying to become the next clerk and succeed incumbent Jane Phillipson Wilson, who did not file for re-election after serving just over four years in the job. Leonard met the August filing deadline while Patano is running as a write-in.
Leonard, 55, of Green Street in Dowagiac, is making his first run for public office. He and his wife, Nancy, have three children. He works in purchasing at Ameriwood Industries and also has his own construction company.
He said his goal if elected is to hold regular office hours every weekday afternoon from 3-5 p.m. He said he wants to follow the example of longtime Clerk Jim Snow, who Leonard said “was always available.” “Jim has answered a ton of questions for me,” he said.
“I think there needs to be someone in the office people can see every day. There needs to be a face in the office.”
When asked about the 2016 failed effort to make the clerk an appointed rather than elected position, Leonard said he voted against the measure and still favors having the clerk elected by the people.
“Voters should pick the clerk,” he said.
Patano, 69, of Dogwood Circle in Dowagiac, is also making her first run for public office. She is semi-retired after a management career in California. She now works part-time with the Cass and St. Joseph Counties drug court programs. Although she didn’t grow up in Dowagiac, her grandparents lived here and she moved to the city in 2010.
She said she was asked to run by others. She said people she’s talked to want the clerk to be someone overseeing elections, training poll workers and to have regular office hours.
Patano said she has no opinion regarding the 2016 effort to make the clerk an appointed position.