GREENFIELD – Dan Riley’s Greenfield City Council candidacy comes amid an election in which at least three of the body’s seven seats, as well as the mayor’s office, will be filled by newcomers.
“I really had to think about whether or not I had to run a third time,” said Riley, who serves as the council’s president. “But with the mayor changing, and we’re going to have several changes on council, I thought it might be a good idea to have some experience, some gray hair there.”
He’s running against fellow Republicans John Jester and Mitch Pendlum for two of the council’s at-large seats in the upcoming primary election.
Riley said he continues to be driven by issues that initially motivated him to run for council – ensuring good public safety, infrastructure and quality growth.
He is retired from a career in technology and finance, the longest duration of which he spent with the Lilly Endowment.
Riley has lived in the community for 44 years and said he’s seen plenty of changes.
“I’d like to see us continue pretty much on the path that we’re on, because we’re not on a bad path,” he said.
He noted there are people that don’t want growth, and even some communities that make it their public policy to not encourage it, something he stressed is ill advised.
“Geographically there’s no way we’re going to avoid growth, so the best thing we can do is make it quality growth and try to attract quality people,” Riley said. “And that’s what I want to do. I want to see that continue.”
Riley added he wants to see Greenfield continue to have a diversified economy so that if one business pulls out, it doesn’t take the whole city down with it.
He said he is grateful to have served on the Greenfield Redevelopment Commission when Elanco Animal Health broke ground on its headquarters in Progress Park on the city’s north side about 13 years ago.
“That was a good day,” he said. “It was a bad day when we found out they were leaving.”
Elanco announced in late 2020 that it was building a new headquarters in Indianapolis.
Riley added that had pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly and Company pulled its presence out of Greenfield when he arrived 44 years ago, the community would have died. But the diversification the local economy has gone through has left it far stronger to withstand blows like Elanco’s departure, he continued.
“It’s a blip, and we’ll fill those buildings up again,” Riley said.
He is proud of being part of a city administration that got Greenfield selected into the state’s Stellar Communities Program, which unlocked millions of dollars of funding opportunities resulting in the new Depot Street Park, downtown business facade renovations and other improvements.
“It’s worked out better than I ever thought it would,” he said.
Maintaining streets as well as systems for water, wastewater and stormwater can be challenging in an old community, Riley said.
“It’s a juggling act,” he said. “They’re not glory things like Stellar, but you’ve got to keep the balls up in the air and keep them moving. … But we’re a creature of the state. They determine how we get our funding, and we can only do so much.”
Public safety is important as well, he continued.
“If you don’t believe that, ask anybody that doesn’t want to go to downtown Indianapolis anymore,” he said. “So we’ve got to keep our fire and our police department funded and manned. That’s important. We’re growing, so we have to make sure that we’re in good positions to service all those areas that we’re growing into. Those things have to be considered.”
That includes parks and other quality-of-life aspects as well, he said.
“I’m amazed that when we’re talking with people that are thinking about locating businesses here – manufacturing businesses – we can talk about taxes and things like that that you think they’re going to be interested in,” Riley said. “When I talk to them about robotics at the school system, or that we’ve got trails where their employees can ride their bike to within 50 feet of where they’re going to work – that’s really what wakes them up. And those are the things that people sometimes criticize us for for spending money on those kinds of things, but those are the things that are important – quality of life issues.”
In the past eight years, Riley served on city Budget and Economic Development committees in addition to several local nonprofit organizations. As part of his term as council president, he worked closely with Mayor Chuck Fewell on projects like a new animal control facility, the remodeling of Greenfield Fire Territory Station 2, a new wastewater treatment plant and helping to bring BeijingWest Industries and Yamaha Precision Propellers plants to Greenfield.
Riley has also served on boards for the Riley Old Society, Greenfield Main Street, Riley Festival, Hancock Economic Development Council, and as a finance committee member of the Greenfield-Central School Foundation. In 2021, he was elected to the Board of Directors of the Indiana Masonic Home Foundation where he serves on the investment committee.
Riley previously served on the Greenfield-Central School Board for 12 years, serving as president for four terms. He served on the Greenfield Park Board as well.
Riley is a Presbyterian, Mason and Kiwanian. He is active in church work teaching Sunday school and providing pulpit supply. He is a life member of the Hancock County Historical Society.