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Republican Nate Cobbs wants to pitch in, put skills to use on Town Council

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Democrat Scot McCord a veteran of the Utility board seeks Town Council seat

By KEVIN NEVERS

Nathan Cobbs was a kid growing up in Westchester South and riding his bike to the Ben Franklin after school when Scot McCord, as a member of the Chesterton Utility Service Board, was playing his part in the sale of the Home Water Company to Gary-Hobart.

That was some 25 years ago. A quarter of a century later, there’s an appealing aptness about the single contested race in this year’s municipal election: the Republican Cobbs versus the Democrat McCord, both of them Chesterton lifers whose paths have crossed only very occasionally over the years.

“I do know Scot, and have known him, or of him, since I bowled with his son at Westchester Lanes in junior leagues,” Cobbs says.

In fact, the two might have run into each other more often if they had more in common besides a zip code and a love for Chesterton. McCord is 61 with a mob of grandchildren. Cobbs is 34 and his two kids are 4 and 6. And for Cobbs the work of raising a young family, of being in the trenches right now with children only just on the cusp of elementary school, is bound to influence his view of municipal government.

“I believe I have a different view of Chesterton due to my age and the age of my children,” Cobbs says. “If Chesterton is going to continue to be the great place we call home, we need my generation to step up and share the load. We need to share in the idea-generation, the planning, and the implementation of the work to be done in town.”

There’s another difference between McCord and Cobb, the matter of collar colors. McCord’s a union carpenter whose knowledge of the construction industry has proved invaluable during his time on the Utility Service Board. Cobbs, on the other hand, is a trust officer at Harbour Trust & Investment Management in Michigan City, specializing in personal planning and portfolio management. “The analytical side of investments often gets passed off to outside companies,” Cobbs says. “However, clients have such a personal relationship with their money that I believe they should know what they’re investing in. That’s why I spend hours researching and analyzing the specific companies and investments that end up in my clients’ portfolios. And I have the skills to help the town make optimal financial decisions.”

“Scot is well known and has done many good things over the years and if he is elected he would serve and do fine,” Cobbs adds. “But I believe that my career and life experience make me a better candidate for what this town currently needs. I have been asked many times why I would want to do this. And honestly, I feel that I’m uniquely qualified to help this town through the next four years and beyond.”

Cobbs is not unaware of the burden associated with service on the council, the heavy responsibility of committing the town to a particular policy, of guiding it in the direction of a particular future. The best bet, he says, is to look forward and backward at the same time. “The chief issue is how we best move forward as a town. How do we make the best decisions for the citizens, the business owners, our children, and our children’s children? Make no mistake, everything we do today will have an effect tomorrow. The trick for us, and for so many other towns, is to find the right balance, between preserving our history and planning for the future. I think the town has been great for a long time. We need to keep what has made us great and allow it to be great for the days to come.”

Cobbs cites three things as being vital to Chesterton’s quality of life: “parks and green spaces,” which traditionally have been “one of the great things about our town”; “community safety,” also a tradition, he says, and one which “should not be lost as we continue to grow”; and the regular development of “neighborhoods and quality places to live for our current residents and those to come.”

Together, vibrant parks with safe, welcoming neighborhoods are going to attract new businesses here, Cobbs believes. And new businesses are needed. “Chesterton is full of hard-working folks with Midwest values who are having kids who want to work and if given a chance would want to stay,” he says. “But there have to be jobs for that to happen.”

Yet Cobbs is adamant on one point: quality of life can’t survive a population explosion. “The greatest threat to our quality of life is growth at any cost,” he says. “I believe that our growth needs to continue but must be very carefully planned and executed if we’re going to preserve what is great about Chesterton. I want to be part of planning and overseeing that future.”

Without specifically criticizing the Town Council--or the Park Board--or Park Superintendent Bruce Mathias, whom he considers underfunded and understaffed--Cobbs does find some of the town’s park system to be in a general decline.

He knows, Cobbs says, because he’s a young dad. “I’m tired of having to drive my kids to Valpo to play on the playgrounds and green spaces there. It’s no secret I’m talking about Dogwood. The equipment there is the equipment I grew up with. And I know what’s in the bond plan. I know that. But Valpo just has more equipment and more age-appropriate options.”

“That’s quality of life right there: having places to go with your kids,” Cobbs emphasizes. “It leads to a stronger community. You’re playing together. You’re raising your kids together. Parks and green spaces are a large part of that. And when we’re making these park plans, we need to make sure the facilities are big enough for the population.”

Chesterton’s quality of life isn’t an accident. It’s undertaking, made, Cobbs says, by “people who are friendly and kind,” by “business owners who are helpful and knowledgeable,” by “educators who want what is best for our children.”

And, he adds, by the many, many in this community who simply “pitch in.” That’s why Cobbs says he’s running for Town Council, to pitch in, just as the incumbents with whom he’d be serving have pitched in. “We all have great pride for our town We all want to do our share, from taking care of our homes and businesses to volunteering our services to other organizations. We also share the ability to work with others. We might not all see things the same but we each have enough respect for one another to hear others’ opinions. I would be honored to work alongside the current council members and do my part to make our community better.”

 

 

Posted 10/16/2015

 
 
 
 

 

 

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