GREENFIELD — As Election Day nears, the race for the District 5 Greenfield City Council race is heating up.
Republican Kerry Grass is seeking a third term representing Greenfield’s south side. His opponent, independent Donna Steele, is running for office for the first time. Both are making their rounds through the district, meeting with residents to seek their support as they prepare to vote in coming weeks.
Grass, a lifelong Hancock County resident, moved to Greenfield about 15 years ago. He’s served on city council for eight years. Steele and her husband, Kurt Vetters, bought a house in Greenfield two years ago.
Steele said being new to the community is one of her best assets. She would bring fresh ideas and a new perspective to the position, she said.
The candidates share some priorities — working to revitalize downtown Greenfield and attracting new businesses to the city — while having goals of their own.
Both say they’re eager to move downtown revitalization efforts forward. In 2013, the city unveiled a downtown revitalization plan that aims to enhance the heart of the city by attracting more retail options and restaurants while preserving the area’s historic flavor. Since then, city leaders and community members have worked to enhance the area by forming plans to develop a new trail, make sidewalks safer and provide more space for the community to gather.
If re-elected, Grass said, he plans to continue to support the effort by helping to identify ways to fund it and encourage projects that increase downtown’s growth and vitality. It’s an important effort that will help keep Greenfield unique, he said.
“I have visited other cities where they haven’t maintained their downtown area, and it’s sad,” he said. “When you lose your downtown area, your city loses its heart.”
Steele said she volunteers countless hours to those efforts as a board member of Greenfield Main Street and a member of the Greenfield Coalition, two organizations striving to improve downtown. She’s eager to help attract new businesses and improve quality of life for residents by helping make the downtown revitalization plan a reality by establishing city funding for the effort.
Her goals for the district include encouraging stricter zoning regulations for agriculture and industry, improving road conditions and building a park near her district.
She’d also like to help find solutions for the traffic near the intersection of U.S. 40 and State Road 9 in downtown Greenfield, which some say might hinder downtown revitalization.
She’d like to see Greenfield market itself better and said that should start with city leaders.
“I really truly just want to see Greenfield be all it can be,” she said.
Since moving to the city in 2013, she’s found plenty of ways to get involved, saying she volunteers an average of 20 to 30 hours each week.
Greenfield resident Mary Legan said people shouldn’t overlook Steele because she’s not a lifelong Greenfield resident. Having new ideas and views will make the city stronger, Legan said.
“She has a fresh view, which is helpful in that many of us are entrenched, and it’s good to have an outside view,” Legan said of Steele. “I don’t want to call her an outsider though; she’s a citizen. She loves Greenfield.”
Grass, an Indianapolis firefighter, said his priorities for the city include increasing employment opportunities for residents by attracting more businesses and maintaining balanced budgets. He’s the council president and budget chairman and said he’s proud of the city’s budget process and what the council has been able to accomplish in the last few years.
Finding funding to beef up public safety is an accomplishment he’s most proud of, he said. For 2015, leaders were able to budget funding to hire three new firefighter/paramedics that were sorely needed to enable Greenfield’s fire department to adequately serve residents. The budget for next year includes funding to hire two new police officers, which will enable the police department to dedicate an officer focused on keeping drug use at bay, he said.
Grass’ dedication to public safety is what makes him the best candidate for the position, said former state Sen. Beverly Gard. As council president and budget chairman, his efforts to hire more police and firefighters is helping keep residents safe, she said.
Both Steele and Grass say they’re ready to serve District 5. If elected on Nov. 3, they’ll be available to residents and eager to tackle the issues important to them, they say.
“I’ve always wanted to be a neighbor helping a neighbor here in District 5,” Grass said. “I want to work to represent the people of District 5.”
Steele says she’s honest, direct and hardworking. She said she’s running for office because she believes she can make a difference in her district and in Greenfield.
“Sometimes you just have to step up to the plate,” she said.
Incumbent Kerry Grass
Political experience: Eight-year city council member
Family: Wife, Beth Ann; three children
Challenger Donna Steele
Occupation: Retired high school media specialist and librarian
Political experience: None
Family: Husband, Kurt; three stepchildren; three grandchildren
Residents may vote early starting Saturday at the Hancock County Courthouse, 9 E. Main St., Greenfield, and McCordsville Town Hall, 6280 W. County Road 800N.
Residents may vote at either location from 8:30 a.m. to noon Saturday and Oct. 31; 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Oct. 30 and 8:30 a.m. to noon Nov. 2.
Residents also may vote at Fortville Community Center, 400 Church St., from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Oct. 30 and from 8:30 a.m. to noon Oct. 31.
In Greenfield, only residents living in District 5 on the city’s south side will be able to vote in this year’s municipal election between incumbent Republican Kerry Grass and independent Donna Steele.