GREENFIELD — Mayor Chuck Fewell’s interest in government began more than 25 years ago when he was a state trooper.
Fewell, who is running for re-election, was assigned to the governor’s office back then and spent seven years with former Gov. Otis Bowen, attending all events and meetings Bowen attended.
That experience, Fewell said, is what stimulated his interest in politics and government.
He eventually became the government affairs director for the Heritage Group, Milestone Contractors, U.S. Aggregate and Asphalt Materials. He worked with those companies for 26 years to represent their positions before legislative bodies at the local, state and federal levels.
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A few years ago, the Republican, now 71, decided he’d take those experiences and his love for government and run for mayor of Greenfield in 2016.
But Mayor Dick Pasco’s death in 2013 from illness sped up those plans, and a county Republican caucus chose Fewell to fulfill the remainder of Pasco’s term.
Fewell left his job with Milestone Contractors and started in the position at the beginning of 2014. This is his first campaign for mayor, though he ran for Shelby County Sheriff in 1982.
His experience in public safety, infrastructure and legislative affairs are what have made him a good fit for the job, he said.
“I bring a unique set of qualifications to lead the city by bringing both leadership and governmental experience,” he said.
Fewell has been in office about 15 months and said he feels as if he’s just getting his feet wet. He said he is pursuing a second term so he can continue working toward goals he’s set for the city, which include downtown revitalization and new economic development.
Fewell moved to Greenfield from Shelbyville after meeting his wife, Kristin, about 18 years ago. In Shelbyville he had been a police officer and once ran unsuccessfully for sheriff.
Upon moving to Greenfield, he said he fell in love with the city and dove into a variety of organizations, clubs and committees.
“Greenfield is exciting for me,” he said. “I enjoy the people; that’s our biggest asset.”
The father of four and grandfather of six has served on several boards, including the Hancock County Sheriff’s Merit Board, the Greenfield-Area Chamber of Commerce Board and the Central Indiana Regional Transportation Authority board.
Those experiences allowed Fewell to meet Greenfield’s citizens and learn of the issues that are important to them, he said.
Taking time to talk with citizens about the city is one of Fewell’s best assets, said his campaign treasurer, Tom Haines.
“He actually listens to people’s concerns, which, I think, is very important,” Haines said. “He does spend a lot of time talking to people about issues, and he follows up on those. I think he certainly has the interest of the community at heart.”
Cheryl Bruns, Fewell’s campaign chairwoman, said she met the mayor more than 20 years ago when he was working as a lobbyist at the Statehouse. The two are close friends, which is why she’s choosing to help with his campaign.
“Chuck has great knowledge of lots of things,” Bruns said. “And if you come to him with a problem, he’s not going to turn you away.”
Fewell said he is out in the community almost every Saturday talking with residents about the city and what its leaders can do to improve.
That effort started last year when the Potts Ditch tunnel relocation project began.
He said he wanted to talk with residents about their concerns related to the project. That project is the city accomplishment he’s most proud of.
It is expected to cost $10 million once completed and is the biggest public works project the city of Greenfield has ever undertaken, so keeping it on schedule and on budget is something everyone working on it should take pride in, Fewell said.
His goals, if re-elected, revolve around economic development and enhancing quality of life for local residents.
Fewell said he’s hopeful the city will continue to attract new retail vendors and restaurants, especially in its downtown area.
In recent months, Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen announced plans to open a restaurant in front of Walmart on State Street. Plans for a Jimmy John’s sandwich shop are also in the works.
“We’re trying to get everything we can here,” he said. “That grows our tax base and puts our assessed value higher.”
And attracting those businesses to the downtown area will help revitalize that section of the city, he said.
Fewell is pushing for the downtown revitalization plan to take shape and helped create the Greenfield Coalition, a group whose sole purpose is to find ways to make downtown an area where citizens want to spend time.
The goal is to improve quality of life and to attract young people to move to Greenfield and stay. Working to have amenities like restaurants and retail will continue to allow Greenfield to grow, Fewell said.
“My goal is to leave the city better than it was when I first came into this,” he said.
To do that, he has to work to improve the quality of life and ensure the city provides the best public works and safety it can, he said.
My agenda is for the city to be the best city in Indiana,” he said.
“I appreciate the opportunity to try to serve the citizens again.”
Early voting starts April 7 at the Hancock County Courthouse. Vote centers begin opening across the county beginning April 25. The deadline to cast a ballot early is noon May 4, while polls are open 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. May 5.
This is the first story in a series on the mayoral race. See an upcoming edition of the Daily Reporter for a profile on challenger Judy Swift.