Councilman seeks 2nd term


John Jester

GREENFIELD – An elected official is looking to remain on the city council, just in a slightly different way.

John Jester is running for one of Greenfield City Council’s two at-large seats and is currently in the final year of his first term on the council representing District 2 on the city’s northeast side. The law enforcement leader faces fellow Republican incumbents Dan Riley and Mitch Pendlum, who are running to keep their at-large seats.

Jester said he’s motivated to remain on the council because he comes from a public service family and background. His father was a firefighter and his mother was a nurse and city council member. He started with the Greenfield Police Department in 1989 and served as chief from 2008 to 2016. Jester served as Hancock County coroner from 2000 to 2008 as well.

“It’s my way to give back,” he said. “I like being involved. It’s a chance to kind of steer the city in the future that it’s taken for us. This city’s been great to me. I’ve been able to put my kids through school, raised my family, I’ve had a great career here.”

Currently Jester serves as chief of police for Community Health Network, where he leads 85 police officers and over 100 security officers protecting about 17,000 employees in five hospitals and about 200 offsite locations.

Pursuing an at-large seat rather than re-running for his district would allow him to continue serving while giving him the freedom to move within the city if he so chose.

“We, as a city councilor, even in a district – you vote for everything that comes through the city,” Jester said. “I wanted to be able to run at large to represent all of the citizens of Greenfield, not being locked into a district.”

Republicans Jessica Fisk-Abraham and Amy Kirkpatrick are running for the District 2 seat Jester will leave at the end of the year.

Jester enjoys the budgeting process of serving on the council. He got to view it from a different perspective as chief of police, when he developed and presented financial requests before working under what was approved.

“Now I’m getting to see the other side of that by listening to people’s requests, dealing with the department heads on what they need and what their greatest needs are,” he said.

He recently started representing the council on the Greenfield Plan Commission.

“I really am starting to enjoy that,” he said. “It’s just fascinating to me. For being on the police department as long as I was, you don’t really see how the city really works in different aspects. I could tell you anything about the police department you wanted to know, but now I’m learning the other sides of it. I really enjoy that.”

Jester said he’s proud of being part of the city leadership that brought a new animal control facility and new equipment for the fire department, as well as bringing a new wastewater treatment plant. He said while he understands there was disappointment over increasing wastewater rates to fund the new plant, it’s necessary to accommodate Greenfield’s growth.

“It was not going to survive,” he said of the current plant.

Growth is one of the most significant issues the city faces, he continued, adding that it’s inevitable.

“It’s going to happen,” he said. “I think we need to make sure that we’re managing that growth. I don’t want to shy companies away or residents away from coming here to live, but I want to make sure – for me, personally – that we’re bringing businesses in that complement our city.”

Requests from businesses to officials for tax abatements often accompany considerations of setting up shop in a city. Jester said while he’s not always supportive of tax abatements, he understands why they’re needed, as a company is more likely to go to a place where such breaks are available.

“I think you’ve got to balance those tax abatements with what it’s going to bring into the tax rolls,” he said.

He added businesses can have significant positive effects on a community when their employees shop and live there too.

“I think where we’re lacking is there’s not a lot of stuff to do socially in Greenfield, and I hate that,” Jester said. “We can get people to come out here to live, but they’ll go to Indianapolis, or Anderson, or Carmel, or Fishers to spend their money, and I think there’s stuff there that we need to look at.”

He said he approaches council decisions with his constituents in mind.

“I hope the people have found that I’ve done a good job and have voted with their interests at heart,” he said. “I think any council member, no matter where they’re at, they’re going to make decisions that some people are not going to like, and others are going to like. What I try to do is I don’t necessarily come in and vote for what I like, I try to vote for what is right for the people.”

The primary election is May 2.