GREENFIELD — As candidates on the ballot met with voters and anxiously awaited results on Election Day, those candidates who went unchallenged in this year’s municipal election looked ahead to Jan. 1.
Throughout the county, uncontested races means those candidates will take office in 2016 without being chosen by voters; and they’re already planning for the years ahead.
In Greenfield, Mayor Chuck Fewell and soon-to-be clerk-treasurer Lori Elmore won their seats earlier this year when they prevailed in the primary election (Fewell over challenger Judy Swift; Elmore was uncontested). For Greenfield City Council, six of the seven seats were uncontested, and three candidates will start their first terms this January.
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Here’s a look at what the city’s future leaders hope to accomplish in the next four years.
Fewell will serve his first full term starting in 2016 after besting Swift in the Republican primary in May. He had no Democrat or independent challenger this fall.
In 2013, he was selected by a Republican caucus to fulfill the remainder of the term of Mayor Dick Pasco, who died in late December 2013 of illness.
As he approaches his two-year anniversary in office and prepares to start the next four, Fewell said he’s looking forward to moving the city forward. Despite new laws that limit city’s and town’s annexation powers, Greenfield will continue to grow, he said. As that happens, he said, he’ll focus on improving city infrastructure, including roads and sewers.
As the city grows, so should its offering for residents, Fewell said, adding he plans to encourage city leaders to pursue building more trails and improving local parks.
“We want connectivity to be a big part of our growth,” he said.
Another goal is to continue pushing downtown revitalization. City officials are working to finalize the comprehensive plan, which serves as a blueprint for city growth; and much emphasis has been placed on continued efforts to revitalize the heart of the city with more retail and restaurants, a festival area and trails, Fewell said.
Construction on the North Street alley to spruce it up for community gatherings is expected to begin next spring.
“We want amenities downtown that will attract people to come downtown,” Fewell said.
The city is making a lot of progress, he said, citing the construction project that widened Franklin Street and the city’s efforts to reroute watershed Potts Ditch, a project nearing completion.
“I am really excited,” he said. “I think the first two years have gone extremely fast, and I think we’ve accomplished a great deal. … We’re not going to let up.”
Elmore, a first-time elected official, will take office Jan. 1 and will replace longtime Clerk-Treasurer Larry Breese.
For about 18 months, Elmore has been serving under Breese as deputy clerk-treasurer. Since early this year, she’s been taking on more responsibility under his tutelage to prepare for her new job.
Elmore, the daughter of former Mayor Pat Elmore, who also served as clerk-treasurer, doesn’t see herself as a politician. Instead, she sees herself as someone with a lot of bosses — the residents she serves.
The clerk-treasurer is charged with a variety of tasks related to the city’s finances and record-keeping. The standards for the position are set by the Indiana State Board of Accounts. To that end, there’s not much Elmore can change.
Instead, she’s focused on upholding the foundation set by her predecessors, Breese and her mother.
“I want to maintain the momentum and integrity that Larry has set as a standard for this job,” Elmore said. “I have two sets of very big shoes to fill.”
She expects the transition should be easy because she’s had the luxury of spending nearly a year preparing to take over the office — plus, she had a great teacher, she said.
“I think it’s going to be exciting to be the one making the decisions,” she said. “His counsel has been excellent.”
When city council members take their seats for the first meeting of 2016, there will be many new faces.
As current council members Swift, Jason Horning and Greg Carwein step away from their offices, Jeff Lowder, Dan Riley and Joe Skvarenina are gearing up for their first terms. They’ll join incumbents Mitch Pendlum, Gary McDaniel, Kerry Grass and John Patton.
The soon-to-be council members are looking forward to starting their positions and say they’re looking to move downtown revitalization forward, encourage building of more sidewalks and trails and prioritize public safety initiatives.
Riley said he doesn’t have many expectations for his first term, except to spend the time learning all he can and moving projects already underway forward.
Skvarenina is concerned about the community’s growth, and he said he wants to be part of conversations about planned growth that includes more amenities for residents.
As Patton, Pendlum and McDaniel return to the council, they say they hope to be helpful in leading the community’s future development so it includes more businesses, sidewalks and upscale amenities.
Patton said he’s eager to work with the new council members.
“We’re at a crossroads,” he said. “I think it’s absolutely essential to have new leaders to think about the future.”
McDaniel and Lowder could not be reached for comment.