GREENFIELD — Chuck Fewell and Judy Swift share many of the same goals and visions for the city of Greenfield.
That became something of a joke Tuesday night at the Hancock County Public Library in a debate between the two, who are seeking the Republican nomination for mayor.
When asked what sets him apart from his opponent, incumbent Chuck Fewell quipped, “I’m a male, and she’s a female.”
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He went on to tout his leadership skills and experience in local and state government, while Swift lauded her longtime commitment to the community.
Fewell, who was chosen by a county Republican caucus to fill the remainder of late Mayor Dick Pasco’s term after he died in 2013, had worked in government for more than 25 years as a government affairs director.
That experience and his time as an Indiana State Police trooper provided him with strong leadership skills he can use to serve the city, he said.
“I’m going to tell you, we have different ideas of leadership. … I’ve been regimented all my life,” he said. “That’s probably an amazing difference.”
Swift, who is assistant vice president and a business development officer for Greenfield Banking Co., has lived and worked in Greenfield for 46 years and has been involved in many committees and organizations. That longstanding commitment to bettering her community is what makes her stand out, she said.
“I feel a closeness to the city of Greenfield that I think really sets me apart,” Swift said. “What I found with Chuck is he is very well known throughout the state, and I am very well known throughout Greenfield.”
The debate’s topics included downtown revitalization, economic development and quality of life issues. Local Rotarian Wayne Addison, who is also the county’s chief probation officer, served as moderator.
Improving the city’s historic downtown is a priority for both candidates, who said they’ll search for grants and funding to make the city’s revitalization plan a reality.
Swift said the city is eligible for the Office of Community and Rural Affairs Stellar Communities grant, which helps fund comprehensive community development projects in the state’s smaller communities.
That’s one grant she’d pursue, while simultaneously working alongside businesses, residents and community stakeholders to achieve the city’s goal.
Swift called for improvements to the city’s parks, adding she’d like to see a splash pool downtown to attract young families.
“Downtown revitalization has always been a love of mine,” she said. “The core of Greenfield is downtown.”
Fewell echoed those sentiments, saying it’s vital for the city to maintain its small-town feel.
“Rebuilding a downtown area is very important to me,” he said. “We want you to go to Indianapolis; we want you to go eat; we want you to have a good time — we want you to come home.”
He discussed the city’s progress in hiring an associate planner to work alongside city planner Joanie Fitzwater and said city officials are looking at grants and means of funding that won’t affect the city’s tax base.
The candidates also discussed how they’d work to maintain the city’s relationship with longstanding businesses while pursuing new business to increase economic development.
The city will continue to attract new businesses because of its proximity to Indianapolis, Fewell said. The city then has to work to retain those agreements.
“I have already toured five or six of those businesses to let them know that they’re important to the city of Greenfield,” Fewell said.
It’s easy to make businesses feel appreciated by just having conversations, Swift added.
“Sometimes, I feel they feel a little out of it because we’re so busy going after the new ones, but the older ones are already established, and their employees are probably living here or living close,” Swift said.
City officials have to look for ways to improve quality of life by maintaining the existing city’s parks and trails while pursuing new retail and restaurant options, Swift and Fewell said.
Swift said that if elected she’d pursue a splash park and new gathering places for downtown.
“Quality of life is a huge, huge issue,” she said. “Citizens love when their city grows. … People love to gather, chat, talk and feel welcome.”
In order to attract new business and young people, Greenfield has to provide amenities for them, Fewell said.
Connecting trails throughout the city, moving retail downtown and exploring options to provide more downtown housing are all goals city officials are considering to improve quality of life, he said.
“The quality-of-life issues are ever-present on everybody’s mind, and it’s on ours,” he said.
The debate closed with Swift telling audience members she wants to know their visions for the city. If elected, her door would always be open, she said.
“I care a great deal about Greenfield,” she said. “I’m going to continue, no matter what, to work for Greenfield, to be an advocate for Greenfield and to always have your best interest at heart.”
Fewell said leading the city requires forward and proactive thinking, and he said he believes he’s the right person for the job.
“I stand before you tonight with proven political experience with both Greenfield and with the state, and I stand before you with a vision it takes to be an effective leader,” he said. “I am confident that, given the opportunity, I would continue to represent each and everyone of you to the best of my ability.”
The community room at the library was full with residents eager to learn more about the candidates they’re preparing to support.
Audience member Edgar Moore said he thought the debate went well and it gave him a chance to learn more about Swift and Fewell.
“It was very educational, very understandable,” he said.
Joanie Pasco, the late mayor’s widow, appreciated that both candidates were respectful in their answers and treated one another fairly.
“I want to know where all the conflict is,” she said. “Things are just calm between these two. There’s no friction.”
Fewell and Swift treated each other with a respect and politeness that’s often missing from politics, which was refreshing, Addison said.
Tuesday night’s event gave citizens the chance to learn more about the candidates, though they are similar in their goals, he added.
“I thought it went very well,” he said. “We have two exceptionally nice people, and they show that to each other.”
“I’m going to continue, no matter what, to work for Greenfield, to be an advocate for Greenfield and to always have your best interest at heart.”
Judy Swift, candidate for Republican nomination for Greenfield mayor
“I stand before you with a vision it takes to be an effective leader.”
Mayor Chuck Fewell