Term length: 4 yearsDuties: Enforce the ordinances of the city and the statutes of the state.Ensure efficient government of the city.Sign all bonds, deeds, and contracts of the city and all licenses issued by the city.Provide any information regarding city affairs that the city council requests.Recommend, in writing, to the city council actions that they consider proper.Call special meetings of the city council when necessary.Approve or veto ordinances, orders, and resolutions of the city council.Provide a statement of the finances and general condition of the city to the city legislative body (city council) at least once a year.Fill vacancies in city offices. Appoint the head of each department, and a city controller, a city civil engineer, a corporation council, a chief of the fire department, a chief of the police department and other officers, employees, boards and commissions required by statute.Subject to approval of the city council, fix the compensation of each appointive officer, deputy, and other employee of the city.Supervise subordinate officers.At least once a month, meet with the officers in charge of city departments.Meet with the department heads and the fiscal officer to review and revise their various estimates of department heads of the money required to run their departments. Salary: $91,759.82Incumbent: Duke Bennett
Bachelor of Science, Civil Engineering, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology;
Terre Haute North Vigo High School;
Woodrow Wilson Junior High School;
Lost Creek Elementary School
Occupational history and current position
Owner, Tractor Tools Direct, Inc., 2013 to present;
Chief Operating Officer, Sisters of Providence, 2011-2013;
Owner, Goodwin Design Concepts LLC, 2008 to present;
City Engineer, Terre Haute, 1999-2003, 2004-2007
Other public or political offices held, and when
President, Thralls Station Regional Sewer District, 2011-2013; President, Terre Haute Board of Sanitary Commissioners, 2000-2003, 2004-2007; Area Plan Commission, 1999-2003, 2004-2007
Other past candidacy for public office
We need leadership that provides a long-term vision and a path for achieving it. We have community plans but haven’t enacted them. My leadership style is to set goals, provide direction, and empower all to reach them. It means being supportive. It means putting tax dollars where they achieve goals. It means collaborating with all community leaders. Leadership finds better paths. It does not give in to old habits.
Leaders need to look beyond the next election. City priorities must not be set through “management by crisis” but by steady execution of a plan. Alongside our community, I will lead the effort to set priorities, looking ahead 5, 10, 20 years - priorities that bring energy and excitement.
The buck stops at the mayor’s desk. You expect your mayor to enact community plans and be a good steward of taxpayer money. You expect your mayor to act without excuses. I expect you to hold me accountable. I am eager to put my leadership skills to work for you. Action, not words.
In 2018 alone, the city paid one person as a financial consultant over $200,000 to help keep the city’s books. And yet, it has been well over a year since the city council has had current financial data. As of April 4, 2019, the 2018 financials are still not available. This is unacceptable and must end immediately. We can’t solve the city’s financial troubles until we have a complete and up-to-date picture of revenues and expenditures.
Once these costly and clearly ineffective services are ended, we can properly staff and train a controller’s department, straighten out the books and provide timely financial data to the city council so it can make informed decisions. At the same time, we can provide that same information to the general public, so that taxpayers have the ability to see how their money is being spent.
A mayor’s job is to create a place where businesses will want to locate and can thrive. Studies show that successful mid-sized communities need to provide quality of life to do that. We must invest in ourselves. I will fund and support cleaning up our city, improving roads and sidewalks, providing amenities like Riverscape, parks, and trails, supporting local arts and culture, and providing incentives for small businesses and startups.
The mayor should also meet regularly with major employers to learn how to support their success. We often take our existing employers for granted. Let’s work with them to ensure Terre Haute remains their chosen business location. Let’s help them convince corporate offices that our city is the best place for their next expansion.
I want our children to become our next business owners and leaders in Terre Haute. Let’s provide what will encourage them to stay here. This can be done without adding new taxes and fees. We must re-prioritize and re-allocate.
Economic development and quality of life are intricately linked. We will not have one without the other. Businesses locate where there is good quality of life for their employees. In the last ten years we have seen a decline in city government’s quality of life efforts. Parks funding has dropped by 20%. No new trails or bike lanes have been developed, despite a plan that says they should be. Sidewalks and streets are crumbling. There is no coherent plan to reduce litter and abandoned properties. No assistance has been provided by the city to Riverscape, a crucial quality of life initiative. Arts and culture funding lacks support. The Human Relations Department has one employee, which is inadequate to support the marginalized of our community.
I will support and provide adequate funding for these efforts.
These quality of life measures will enhance the lives of every resident, help retain our young people, and attract new residents and businesses.
With 430 miles of streets and 330 miles of sidewalks, we should spend about $4 million per year to maintain them. In recent years, the city has spent less than half that. Proper funding for streets and sidewalks will be a top priority.
Grant money is available for major projects like overpasses, trails, and road improvements. We must have the discipline to set aside matching money in advance. We must also have projects that are designed and “shovel-ready” to compete for this money.
Funding for infrastructure can be increased by reducing costs in other areas, not by new taxes or fees. We must: End exorbitant fees to attorneys and accountants for work city staff should do. Freeze non-essential new hires. Allow retirements to reduce staffing until we can determine what is needed and how technology can support staffing needs. Find savings through consolidation with overlapping county functions. End short-term borrowing, which cost the city over $300,000 in interest in 2017 alone.
Tax abatements should be granted only when the increased assessed value grows the local economy without competing with other local business. An abatement for the addition of new technology that adds employees and helps a company compete globally is good. An abatement for new construction that will compete with other businesses in our community is unfair.
Tax Increment Financing (TIF) districts serve a purpose. They fund development of planned infrastructure in a growing area. Using them that way helps ensure development is orderly and functional for the public. Too often they’ve been used for questionable purposes or borrowed to cash flow the city’s general fund. I oppose such abuses of TIF funds.
We must support business creation. We can do this through financial support of business incubators, microloans and grants for new startups, providing physical space for new business for prototyping and concept testing. These incentives must require that they stay here once established.