Council candidates respond to LWV questionnaire
With contested races for Greencastle City Council in Wards 3 and 4 as well as for three at-large council seats, the Greencastle League of Women Voters recently asked the 10 candidates for these five spots to answer a set of three questions.
Each of the candidates responded, with their responses on the following pages.
While Mayor Bill Dory, Clerk-Treasurer Lynda Dunbar and councilors Adam Cohen (First Ward) and Stacie Langdon (Second Ward) are all seeking re-election, they are not opposed and were not questioned.
1. Why are you the best choice to represent the citizens of Greencastle and/or your ward? (150 words)
2. What do you perceive as the two most important concerns facing Greencastle? How will you address these concerns if elected? (150 words)
3. Since declaring your candidacy, what have you done to prepare yourself to serve as a member of the city council? (100 words)
Haywood Ware - Republican
1. I’m the best choice for Greencastle because of my many years in city government. I know how to recognize the city’s priorities while seeing that all of the citizens’ needs and wants are being addressed. My experience is varied as I’ve participated in all aspects of city government. I was Mayor of Pflugerville Texas for three terms. Boards I have been on: Ronald McDonald House Austin, President Texas Municipal League all the cities in Texas, Texas Attorney General Advisory Committee, Capitol Metro the bus system for central Texas. I won Cities & Towns National Leadership Award for Cities under 70,000. Prize of $5,000 which I gave to the police auxiliary in Pflugerville. I sold water and waste water facilities to cities throughout the southwest for Metcalf & Eddy.
2. We need to take care of our employees. They ARE the city. We are going to lose the good workers that we have unless we bring them closer to the prevailing wage scale. We are requiring them to get advanced water and waste water licenses that you hear the city council speak of. They go to school, take exams and then we don’t pay them accordingly. They will go to larger cities and make more money. We need to not be a training location. We will keep this cycle going until we pay them fairly. We just lost a good officer and a drug dog to the county for this very reason. We need to build a community center and have more activities for our youth.
3. I have attended virtually every city council meeting or watched it on TV for the last seven years. I’ve listened closely to the people and heard what they want. They do not feel like they are being treated fairly in most cases. Things have improved over the last four years but there is still room for improvement.
Veronica Pejril - Democrat
1. I’ve never held office before; however, I have been a stay-home parent of twins, and the music director at their
K-8 school. I believe that with my experience raising twins, working recess duty, and leading kindergarten singing circles, I’ve learned more about diplomacy, conflict resolution and management skills than many politicians ever will.
In my 14 years in Greencastle, I’ve built many relationships based in mutual trust, even when we may disagree. Those relationships extend well beyond my day-job, impacting the lives of residents across all our Third Ward neighborhoods.
Examples of these relationships include the many Greencastle families whose children have studied private piano with me, the churches that have trusted me to lend my talents to Sunday services, family weddings and loved-ones’ funerals, and the organizations I have donated my time and talents to, including the Humane Society, Comprehensive Services, FYCDP and the County Museum.
2. In my conversations with residents across the Third Ward, one theme keeps emerging: neighbors just aren’t talking to each other as much as they used to. My campaign mantra, “Good Neighbors Make Great Neighborhoods,” not only speaks to the work that each of us can do to make our neighborhoods more welcoming and affirming for all; it also speaks to the ways our city can explore to unite our neighborhoods together.
Expanding upon existing models like the Fourth Ward’s Berry Street Festival, our First Friday, and our recent Community Art Project celebration, I recommend that our Council consider exploring more neighborhood-based summer festivals across all four wards, to help unite our diverse communities more closely. Imagine a “June Avenues Fest,” and you get the idea.
Our city also needs more housing at every price point. We must explore bipartisan solutions to expand the inventory, and thus, our tax-base.
3. I’ve been walking in neighborhoods all over the Third Ward, asking neighbors about what’s important to them.
I’ve also been attending the majority of Council meetings this year; there, I have learned about, and come to appreciate the spirit of bipartisan cooperation that helps our municipal government work efficiently for all.
Finally, I’ve read journal articles and online municipal leadership forums, researching the ways that communities similar to ours are diversifying their tax base, expanding housing inventory, finding unique industry partnerships to reduce costs of projects like our community center, and sustaining aging public infrastructure treasures like our public pool.
Cody Eckert - Republican
1. I’m really grateful that Fourth Ward residents have a choice for City Council. After nobody stepped forward to run in the primary on either side, I realized that I had a lot to offer and knew I should help since so few are willing to put themselves forward for public service. As a legislative staffer in the Indiana House of Representatives, I work with Hoosiers to solve their problems and address their concerns. Having covered the Government and Regulatory Reform Committee for the Republican caucus, I’ve learned about municipal topics that make their way to the state level, including Tax Increment Financing (TIF) districts and economic redevelopment commissions. I think having lived and breathed these issues will give me a leg up and let me hit the ground running after the election, allowing me to be a useful addition to City Council and an invaluable resource to my neighbors.
2. Greencastle must always strive to be the best place to live and the best place to work. That’s the lens through which every decision by City Council must be made. Living well means improving Greencastle’s ‘quality of place’ and building on the success of public projects such as People Pathways. It also means maximizing the symbiotic relationship Greencastle holds with DePauw University, because both must succeed in order to attract more people and a future workforce to our region. It also means doing the necessary due diligence before passing ordinances or budgets that may fundamentally affect housing costs or tax rates that could make it more difficult to attract newcomers to Greencastle. Encouraging entrepreneurs with an investor-friendly business climate will remain key. My philosophy will be to do more with less and be open to creative, new ideas that can best situate Greencastle for success.
3. The most important things I did was 1) listen and 2) learn, because the insight necessary to address the issues facing Greencastle does not come from a single person. It comes from our neighbors, our leaders, and those that can offer invaluable perspective. I’ve attended City Council meetings, knocked on doors, and met a lot of people who want Greencastle to succeed. The trick is to act on that insight effectively. I understand that no man is an island in a legislative body - it takes a team of committed individuals working together, and that’s what I aim to do.
Steve Snyder - Democrat
1. I have been a resident of Greencastle’s Fourth Ward since buying a home in the weeks after our move during the fall of 2014. My initial desire was to become involved in the community right away, and I jumped at the opportunity to volunteer for the middle school. For five years I have garnered continued support from across town for this effort, demonstrating my desire to help improve Greencastle. Now I want to become further involved in our town by serving on the City Council. In the years since my arrival I have built many lasting relationships that will benefit me in my subsequent service.
City Council is similar to participating in committees tasked with deciding matters of personnel, resource allocation and planning in my teaching career. I have learned through experience how to identify problems and build support for finding solutions that benefit a broad constituency.
2. Job growth in Greencastle has been strong. As other small towns have struggled, we have seen growth. We now need to continue to tell the story of our momentum in order to continue attracting people and businesses to our community.
Housing is an important concern. Greencastle offers a great quality of life to our residents, with an impressive array of options for families and individuals to enjoy. While there have been expansions in housing recently (especially in the 4th ward), we still need a greater volume and diversity of housing that will allow people who work here to live here as well. Having more housing will expand our tax base and give us more flexibility in addressing other needs in the community. I will support the current housing initiatives and continue to look for ways we can expand them.
3. Since declaring my candidacy for city council in the Fourth Ward, I have spent time with neighbors and friends talking about what issues face Greencastle. I have also thought about what I can bring to the table, and how I might be able to build on my contributions to date. Because I have been in similar positions of responsibility in other aspects of my working life, I can draw upon my past experiences working with a team of representatives to help improve our town.
Vote for 3
Matt Cummings - Democrat
1. I believe that I am one of the best choices for City Council because I bring in a strong business skill set, a graduate degree in Urban Studies and Community Development, and the mindset of a young parent in our community. During my time living in Greencastle I have organized service projects that brought together 10+ non-profits and 100+ volunteers, raised over $150,000 through grant writing, donations and other means, coached youth soccer, and have been an active parent in the lives of both my children as they go through public schools and participate in events. I currently work at and help scale a fast-growing start-up that equips adult populations with tech skills that allows them to work at high-paying jobs. Through these opportunities I have accumulated experiences in leadership, management, data analysis, grant writing, sales, digital marketing, and workforce development that would serve our city well.
2. First and foremost I believe getting a community center built in our town is extremely critical for local growth and will serve our community well for health and fitness, after-school care for children, and building communities through organized programming. Through my professional experience, I have managed projects with Fortune 500 companies and nonprofits to achieve profitable outcomes that would assist in the management and implementation of this project. The second issue that concerns our community resides around the national conversation on automation and how that will impact local business industries like factories and logistics transportation. I believe the best way to prepare for the coming “industrial revolution” is to ensure that our youth and workforce are being trained in skills like cyber security, coding, and other trades that will not be replaced in the first wave of the automation revolution so that Greencastle can avoid IBM 2.0.
3. I have continued to make myself available to citizens through tabling at First Fridays, knocking on doors, meeting with business leaders, and calling people to hear what ideas they have for our city. The best thing I have done to prepare myself is just listening to people whether it is their desire for sidewalks on the Avenues or seeing more development on the North and South sides of Greencastle, my goal when elected for City Council at Large, is to carry the voices of the people in the city for positive change in our community.
Mark Hammer - Republican
1. I have been honored to serve the residents of Greencastle for the last 24 years as one of your City Councilman, the first twenty as a representative of the 2nd Ward and the last four At-Large. During these years we, as a city, have witnessed many positive things while responding to several challenges. I can honestly state that the City Council has worked with the Mayor and their administrations to do what was best for the City and our residents. The bipartisan relationships and rapport I have developed working with four mayors and clerk-treasurers, as well as multiple Council members and department heads is invaluable. I look forward to continuing to serve all the residents of Greencastle for another four years and appreciate the support I have received over the past 24 years during not only the elections, but also in my service as your Councilman.
2. As usual, fiscal concerns are always one of these two issues. This is even more of a challenge in the current environment of less funds flowing from the state to municipalities. Our hands have been further tied since our population exceeded 10,000 residents in the 2010 census, which then classified us as a 2nd Class city. Not only did we have to expand our Council to seven members, but more importantly, our local match of funds on many public works projects (roads, sidewalks and pathways) has been increased. Thankfully, past and current City administrations have been able to accomplish many worthwhile projects and programs through multiple grants and other funding sources.
Secondly, public safety concerns and quality of life issues, which go together, must be addressed. Our police and fire departments continue to need upgraded equipment and proper training and supplies, all while addressing the personnel needs of these departments.
3. As mentioned earlier, I continue to serve on the Council and have been most recently involved as one of the three Council members on the 2020 Budget Committee, on which I have served the past several years. We, as a Council, vow that we will be working hard with the Mayor and Clerk-Treasurer at making the payroll and benefits of our employees more competitive in the future. This will be accomplished through an analysis of salaries and benefits of other Indiana communities of similar populations and then determining how to fairly compensate the city employees and finding sources of funding.
Gary Lemon - Democrat
1. I have been a member of the community and worked in Greencastle for more than 40 years. I have been actively involved in many philanthropic organizations and have participated in many community events. I teach a course on how the public sector should work; I sit on a board that manages more than 90 billion dollars; I was an internal auditor at General Electric; Susan and I raised two sons who attended Greencastle schools K – 12. For the past four years, I have served on the Greencastle Common Council. During my time on the council, I have strived to do what is best for the residents of this town. I have always been proud to be a citizen of Greencastle; I think the city is even better today than it was four years ago and I would like to think I was a part of this continued progress.
2. In my opinion, the city’s most pressing need is to encourage the development of new housing. We are in the enviable position of having a very low unemployment rate, but that has led to a problem with availability of housing for those who might want to live and work in the city. Although I do not want to see the city become a real estate developer, I think we should do everything in our power (e.g., provide infrastructure) to provide what resources we can to encourage the development of housing in the city.
I also want to encourage employers to bring more highly skilled jobs to the city. The city should provide resources wherever possible (e.g., tax abatements) so that our current employees can acquire more skills, take on more responsibilities, and earn higher wages.
3. I have continued to be an active member of the community, including serving on the city common council and the redevelopment commission. These activities have given me insight into the city’s strengths as well as the challenges the city faces. I am a member of Rotary and 100 Men who Care and participate in community events. I continue to talk to the residents of the city and try to ascertain what they think are the major issues facing the city. The job of a councilperson is not only to do what is right but to listen to his/her constituents.
Harry Maginity - Republican
1. I bring a broad spectrum of working knowledge and insightful experiences of value to City Council decisions/directions.
As journalist (WTHI, Terre Haute Star, Des Moines Register, KDIN), I was committed to WhoWhatWhenWhyHow reporting--investigating events, researching information, discerning deception, corruption, cronyism: seeking truth.
As commercial writer/creative director (Caldwell-Van Riper/Indianapolis, TechCom, Imagemakers/Cincinnati, my own communications company), I learned about manufacturing, business/workforce development, foundations/charities, retail, tourism, highway construction.
As director of Sonshine Inn ministries and Wheeler Mission volunteer, I gained face-to-face experience with homelessness, addiction, recovery.
As INDOT PIO, experience in roadway/infrastructure construction, ROW acquisition, compliance, etc. deepened.
A Christian and fiscal conservative (and GHS graduate), I have concern for “unintended consequences” and misspent tax dollars. I also believe in the dignity of every human being.
2. A. Taxes, spending and payroll. I ask that spending projects -- including redevelopment board-financed projects -- have widespread public support and sustainability. I contend that TIF money--a valuable tool for development and increasing the tax base--not be regarded as FREE MONEY; extreme caution should be exercised to prevent negative impacts to the general fund--which could result in reduced services or tax/fee increases. Cost-of-living affordability for residents of Greencastle must be a top priority.
Meanwhile, increasing pay for city employees--police, fire, etc.--must be addressed early in the next council session. We cannot afford to lose qualified, experienced public servants to nearby communities who pay higher wages.
B. Road construction: what can we learn from lost time and lost income “inconveniences” of the Indianapolis Road Project in anticipation of future street/road construction -- including rebuilding U.S. 231 through Greencastle by INDOT during the next council term.
3. I have reviewed contract items and time-set dates with revisions regarding the Indianapolis Road Project. The Mayor’s office and City Attorney have been very helpful.
I have looked at water rates in determining the city’s cost for producing water to be higher than rate revenues from the top tier user. We could see rate increases next term; this indiscretion should be corrected at that time.
I have talked with classmates, friends and residents about various issues and have solicited comment. My greatest concern is people are looking past this election because it’s in an “off year.” Know the issues AND vote!
Dave Murray - Democrat
1. I have been passionate about our community for 40 years. That is one of the reasons why 20 years ago we established our family business, the National Center for College Costs, in downtown Greencastle. More recently, for the last four years I have had the privilege of serving as a City Council At-Large representative. During that time we have improved the cleanliness and infrastructure of the city’s downtown; drawn up plans for wayfinding signage to help our ever-increasing number of visitors find their way around Greencastle: and shortly we should have a contract to review for a new community center. I would like to have the opportunity to continue to work on behalf of Greencastle and its residents.
2. The scarcity of housing probably should be my first concern, but let’s talk about two that are more doable, although not easy. 1) Dealing with the effect of property tax caps that has cost the city hundreds of thousands of dollars that otherwise would flow through to city’s General Fund that pays staff salaries, fixes roads and sidewalks, etc. That means we have to locate other sources of funds to do the projects that will keep the city’s significant momentum going. 2) We need to make good on our promise to build a community center to keep our momentum going. It is a complex project with multiple potential partners, but the land has been purchased and we hope to have a contract to review very soon.
3. As a current member of the City Council I feel I’m already prepared to continue working on behalf of the citizens of Greencastle if they want me to do so.
Tyler Wade – Republican
1. Greencastle is a great community full of great people. I grew up here and chose to make my home here after college and graduate school. My fellow council members and I have worked hard to improve the quality of life for all city residents. We’ve seen an expansion in affordable housing, the arrival of new businesses and restaurants, a growth in manufacturing jobs and wages, hired public safety workers, started work on tackling the drug problem, torn down blighted and abandoned properties, cut government inefficiencies, fixed our infrastructure and made Greencastle a more welcoming community. I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished, but I know much more work lies ahead. I am the best choice to represent the citizens of Greencastle because I know what it takes to get the job done and have the energy, passion, and drive to help lead us to meet the challenges of the future.
2. The two most important concerns facing Greencastle today are poverty and jobs. Over the last decade, we’ve seen booms and busts in manufacturing and, as a result, booms and busts in our community.
We’ve weathered storms before because we understood those jobs would return. But this time is different. The work of the future will be increasingly automated and machine driven. This shift has already started, and you see the impact through increases in drug abuse and the suicide rate.
We must work to educate our residents for the jobs of tomorrow and look at diversifying the types of businesses in our community. If elected, I will work with the mayor and Council to appoint a special commission who will focus solely on coming up with innovative ways to educate our workforce and strategically consider ways we can help get people out of poverty.
3. The best thing I can do to prepare myself to continue service on the City Council has been to meet people in our community, learn about their concerns, talk about ideas, read a lot, and work tirelessly at problem solving.
This campaign has been marred by attacks and mudslinging. That needs to stop. We face serious issues that demand hard work, bipartisan support, and an unwavering commitment to making Greencastle the best place it can be. I ask lots of questions, demand answers, and work hard every day to learn more about our city and the problems we face.