By Mauven Coyne
Charles Cheek and Aracelia Manriquez, the two candidates running for Elkhart Township Trustee, spoke at a Public Forum at the Chamber of Commerce, on Monday, May 20th.
Aracelia Manriquez is bilingual, has worked at La Casa, is now self employed working on immigration issues and has graduated this year with a Business Degree from Goshen College
Charles Cheek is a teacher at Goshen Middle School and has had a leadership position in a number of church and civic positions. He said that if elected he would not continue full time at school.
They explained that the function of the office is primarily to assist people with emergency vouchers for rent, food,; utilities, etc. There are many added duties such as issuing dog tags, overseeing cemeteries and funding 3 fire stations.
The salary is $l6,500/year and is set by the advisory board. Guidelines come from the state, but there is much flexibility for the local trustee and the three member advisory board and they work closely with other agencies.$120,000 - $l50,000 is allocated for poor relief each year by the state.
Some changes in operating the office are expected by both candidates such as more client friendly office hours, evenings and or Saturdays, a shorter application form, have forms in Spanish and have a bilingual office. The office is now open l7 hours a week. They would increase hours if needed. All funds would be used and more requested if needed.
Manriquez suggested that there be a box for clients to place andy complaints. She also stated that she would phone other agencies while client was in office if more help was needed rather than have client need to go from place to place.
They both expressed the importance of respect for all clients and treating each case individually in regards to requirement for work fare, allocation of funds and responsibility to repay.They noted that of ID is required to establish residency, There is an investigation on IDs only if there is suspicion of fraud.