2-term councilman seeks re-election



GREENFIELD – An elected official who has served for over seven years is running to keep experience on Greenfield City Council as it prepares to have several new members and a new mayor.

Republican incumbent Jeff Lowder is looking to continue representing District 4 on the west side of the city. Michael Howard is challenging him in the upcoming primary election.

“We’re losing a lot of council members and there’s a lot of new ones coming on,” Lowder said.

Kerry Grass will leave his city council seat at the end of the year, as he is running for mayor. John Jester will leave his district seat because he is pursuing an at-large position. Like Mayor Chuck Fewell, Councilman George Plisinski is also not seeking re-election.

“I considered not running,” Lowder said. “We’re getting a new mayor, a lot of new council members, and I think the experience of being on the council would be advantageous for the city and the new people coming in – help get them settled in and ready to go.”

Lowder said several city accomplishments come to mind when looking back on his two terms on the council, including the new animal management building, remodeling the fire station on New Road and the new wastewater treatment plant that is underway.

“Greenfield’s grown a lot,” Lowder said. “We have new businesses coming in. There’s been a lot of activity in Greenfield in the time that I’ve been on the council.”

His family’s ties to the area date back to 1835. He is retired from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, where he oversaw 120 lakes in northern Indiana and evaluated their dams for rehabilitation and replacement.

Lowder said he has seen many changes throughout his time in Greenfield, including I-70 coming through. He described change as inevitable.

“You can be part of overseeing that change and helping that change, or just letting it go,” he said. “And I’ve kind of chosen to be a part of the growth of what’s going in.”

Lowder pointed to Progress Park on the city’s north side, which in recent years has drawn a BeijingWest Industries car parts plant and plans for a speculative warehouse spanning nearly 840,000 square feet.

The business park hasn’t been without its setbacks, however, including Elanco Animal Health’s planned departure as well as workforce and supply struggles at BWI.

Lowder also referred to the Yamaha Precision Propellers plant that recently started operating on the city’s north side that has plans to double in size. He noted Photon Automation as well, the Greenfield-based advanced manufacturer that moved into a bigger building on New Road. The city is incentivizing both businesses with tax breaks.

Lowder and his colleagues on city council approved a measure earlier this year committing nearly $225,000 over the next five years for outdoor events, including the continuation of a concert series at the new Depot Street Park downtown. More than 8,500 people attended the four free Saturday night concerts that were part of the series’ inaugural run last year.

“Depot Street Park’s been one of the great successes of the city that I see,” Lowder said. “They had a heck of a turnout last year. I think it’s only going to get bigger and better because more people heard about it. Then we’ll be able to draw bigger things.”

The benefits of the park – and all of Greenfield’s amenities – extend far beyond the city, Lowder continued.

“There’s a lot of ways that that park can be utilized for the benefit of not only the citizens of Greenfield, but also the citizens of Hancock County,” he said. “Because the Hancock County people – they come in, they buy at Walmart, they shop at the different shops, so I feel that they’re part of what we’re doing here also, and to build a better lifestyle for the whole county.”

He added people visiting the city are also likely to eat at its restaurants – a sector that has surged locally recently with the openings of Chick-fil-A, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Panera BreadJersey Mike’s Subs and Panda Express, as well as announcements for Olive Garden and McAlister’s Deli.

Lowder described Greenfield’s growth as responsible.

“I think we try to do the right thing for the city and its citizens,” he said. “We just don’t grow for the growth reasons. We try to look at how it’s going to affect the city. All types of growth have repercussions.”

Leadership is about making decisions that are good for the city as a whole as opposed to an individual, Lowder said.

“Everything has an adverse effect to somebody,” he said. “You have to be able to look at the whole and say, ‘Is this beneficial to the city of Greenfield?’”