Robert Emery is running for South Bend Common Council in the city’s 5th District. Emery, who is running as a Democrat, announced his campaign in November and filed the necessary paperwork this month. He is challenging long-time Republican incumbent David Varner, the only Republican on the city council.
Emery says that he has spent the past seven years advocating for neuromuscular disorder awareness. He himself was diagnosed with myotonic dystrophy, a progressive form of muscular dystrophy that weakens muscles over time. According to the National Institutes of Health, the disorder affects 1 in 8,000 people worldwide.
“I have worked with both the Muscular Dystrophy Association and Myotonic Dystrophy Foundation to create awareness and gain funding for research,” Emery told the South Bend Voice. “I am in year 7 of my diagnosis and have always been known to be a little stubborn, so I naturally have a little fight in me.”
Emery brought the issue to the Indiana General Assembly in 2011, where with the help of state representative Pat Bauer (D-South Bend) House Resolution 0003 officially recognized “the struggle of those who suffer from Myotonic Dystrophy, and honors their courage, patience and perseverance.”
The awareness effort also extended to the South Bend Common Council, where Emery says that Councilman Henry Davis Jr. sponsored a resolution recognizing the 2014 Northwest Indiana Muscle Walk.
Emery has served as a citizen committee appointee on the South Bend Common Council since June 2014 as part of the Health and Public Safety Committee and the Public Works and Property Vacation Committee. Citizen committee appointees apply for the position and are chosen at the discretion of the chairperson on the committee. They participate in hearings and recommend legislation to the full Council.
The candidate says that his three main priorities are making the Council more accessible to the public, investing in youth, and “bringing the focus of 5th District representation back to the 5th District.” He says that the 5th District — which spans much of the city’s south side — has been neglected with crumbling infrastructure and a lack of street lights.
He also promises to serve no more than three terms.
“Elected office is not meant to be a lifetime tenure. I believe in term limits. I will not serve more than three terms as a member of the Common Council. I also believe elected office is not a stepping-stone. If the voters trust you enough to elect you to do a job, you should do that job. I will not run for another office while serving on the South Bend Common Council.”
Primary day is May 5 in Indiana. The general election will be held on November 3.