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Terre Haute City Common Council, District 2

Term length: 4 yearsDuties: The legislative body (City Common Council) may pass ordinances, orders, resolutions, and motions for the government of the city, the control of the city’s property and finances, and the appropriation of money. The legislative body may, by ordinance, make loans of money and issue bonds for the purpose of refunding those loans. The loans may be made only for the purpose of procuring money to be used in the exercise of the powers of the city or for the payment of city debts. The legislative body may investigate the departments, officers, and employees of the city; and hire or contract attorneys and legal research assistants. The city legislative body shall, by ordinance, fix the annual compensation of all elected city offices and approve the compensation set by the city executive (the mayor) for each appointive officer, deputy, and other employee of the city. After reviewing the budget report from the fiscal officer, the legislative body shall prepare an ordinance fixing the rate of taxation for the ensuing budget year and an ordinance making appropriations for the estimated department budgets and other city purposes during the ensuing budget year. The legislative body, in the appropriation ordinance, may reduce any estimated item from the figure submitted in the report of the fiscal officer, but it may increase an item only if the executive recommends an increase.Salary: $14,165.84Incumbent: O. Earl Elliott

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  • Candidate picture

    Sarah Elizabeth Dillon

  • Candidate picture

    O. Earl Elliott

  • Diana Winsted-Smith

Biographical Information

What, in your view, is the next necessary step for the city’s finances and why?

Various projects have been proposed related to local economic development (including but not limited to a casino, convention center, downtown planning, riverfront development). Please describe your vision for economic development in Terre Haute, including how any or all of these projects fit into your plan.

What measures, if any, would you propose to increase the quality of life in our community and/or to ensure that quality of life reaches all community members?

What do you see as the order of priorities for new and improved infrastructure in our community, and how do you propose each of those be funded?

What is your philosophy as to subsidizing business and industry, e.g. tax increment districts, tax abatements, public/private partnerships, development bonding, etc.?

Campaign (Public) Email Address
Campaign Phone (812) 263-0441
Twitter @dillon2thcc
Education BS - Computer Science, ISU Class of 1998 HS - Terre Haute South, 1993 Middle School - Woodrow Wilson, 1990 Elementary - Ouabache, 1987
Occupational history and current position info at
Other public or political offices held, and when 2006-2012, 2019-present = GPUS National Committee delegate/alternate, Indiana Green Party 2005-present = coordinator/foundress, Vigo County Green Party
Other past candidacy for public office Independent, Terre Haute City Council, District 2, 2015
Since most residents are feeling overburdened with all these new taxes and fees the city and county have passed over the last 4 years - and wages being stagnant [per the "See You In Terre Haute" Community Plan 2025, ~ $42K for Vigo County and ~ $36K for City of Terre Haute], I feel the next steps would be to attract better-waged jobs [at LEAST $15-20/hr] that are full-time with benefits. Also, to work with state government to see how much sooner local government units can get their reimbursements to us [instead of the council passing tax anticipation loans during the year]
Personally, having seen the Chamber of Commerce/City of Terre Haute/Vigo County/Convention and Visitors Bureau new "See You In Terre Haute" Community Plan 2025 [where the casino, convention center, riverfront development, downtown planning are from]...there's major issues, because we're basically relaying on a tourism economy to attract better paying jobs. Instead, like many of my Green colleagues, my vision is based on what is commonly referred to as the "Green New Deal" (more at and boosting local businesses before we even THINK about outside our community
First, since each neighborhood has their own unique issues, I would work with neighborhood associations around Terre Haute in reorganizing the Terre Haute Neighborhood Partnership [a coalition that was active over a decade ago that went inactive about 7-8 years]. On top of that, other ideas I hope to bring [but not limited to these] are: 1. Community engagement with local non-profits, community groups and other forms of partnerships; 2, Spending more on enhancing residents’ quality of life [higher wage jobs; anti-gentrification efforts; getting rid of “food deserts”, whether mom and pop shores or small community gardens; affordable housing; tenants’ rights; etc.];
Streets and city bus service, plus occupancy and remediation of deteriorating or vacant houses buildings would be my priorities on infrastructure. Ways to fund these: Make those higher priority during city budget period, with emphasis on hiring local and/or union labor as much as possible. If not, contact the IN General Assembly, Congress, or the appropriate state and federal agencies. Also, work with Indiana Landmarks or other groups in finding funding for remediation instead of demolition as much as possible.
Personally, I find that subsidizing business and industry [especially via tax abatements and TIF districts ] is not needed; it's more of a luxury and not as a necessity. Basically, there's better ways to attract businesses, i.e. infrastructure, public safety, are people going to buy products from one's business, transportation, living wages, etc. Instead, I would rather see us advocate for grants and low interest loans for local businesses and cooperatives...or even a local currency, where money is circulated locally. As for public/private partnerships, I would pause on that also, especially seeing what happened the last few years with the FBI paying visits to the VCSC and to the wastewater treatment plant.
Campaign (Public) Email Address
Campaign Phone (812) 249-6331
Education St. Patrick's Grade School, Schulte High School (1972), Indiana State University (B.S. Accounting 1976)
Occupational history and current position Certified Public Accountant, Sackrider and Company (1981 to present); Certified Public Accountant, Ernst and Young (1976 to 1981)
Other public or political offices held, and when District 2 City Councilman (2016 to present)
The next step is to continue to reduce the short-term borrowing using surplus budgets to generate the cash to do so. This will eliminate interest expense. Once the short-term debt is eliminated, we can begin to build cash reserves to acceptable levels.
The Convention Center, Downtown Planning, Turn to the River, and Casino are inter-related projects. Downtown Planning is most critical at this time, as convention attendees will be here soon. We need their experience in Terre Haute to be as great as can be. This will generate repeat convention business, and word-of-mouth advertising by visitors to our community is certainly a form of economic development.

Workforce development and quality issues must be addressed to every extent possible to attract new business and industry.

Successful execution of the above-mentioned projects, which are in their early stages, is one of my goals for economic development for the city.
There is currently a Community Plan being assembled headed by RJL Solutions, the Chamber of Commerce, the Mayor, Steve Holman, and others. I attended one of the focus group sessions and provided input. I also attended a Downtown Planning Focus Group meeting headed by experts from the Indiana Main Street and provided input. I heard much valuable input and look forward to the output from these studies.

I believe including water in quality of life and quality of place improvements is important. Water is soothing, refreshing, and cool; and my grandsons just love water, including the little puddle that forms at the end of our driveway.

Quality of life and quality of place improvements should also reflect the consensus of the community. Community consensus is much more important than the thoughts of an individual City Council member.
Infrastructure improvements are a challenge because they are expensive and require outside sources of revenue, such as state and local grants.

The greatest infrastructure need I see is more road and street paving and related striping and painting. I also have observed that some of the structures in our parks look tired and need refurbished.
Preserving existing jobs and obtaining new jobs is critical for long-term growth. As a Certified Public Accountant, I am very familiar with the effect of abatements and how they work. I am a proponent of abatements, as these taxes are not eliminated. These taxes are merely reduced, and I have always felt the reduced tax revenue was still much greater than the additional cost of providing city services caused by new property upon which taxes were reduced.

I am for public/private partnerships. We need more of them, as more private investment in our city is a positive.

Terre Haute has a number of TIFF districts. The TIFF concept is reasonably solid, as it provides a way to fund infrastructure improvements and additions in the TIFF districts that would be difficult to fund otherwise.
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