McCORDSVILLE – John Price may be new to running for public office, but the McCordsville Town Council candidate is a familiar face around the town hall.
He moved to McCordsville 35 years ago, attended his first town council meeting in 1989 and has been attending regularly since about 2009. Price served on the McCordsville Plan Commission from 2016 to 2020. He interacts with town staff somewhat regularly, whether it’s a conversation with the assistant town manager over a noise ordinance or a breakout session with the town’s public works committee to work out a matter between the town and his homeowners association.
“I doubt there’s anybody on the staff of the town that doesn’t know my name,” Price said. “Good or bad, but it works that way. I’ve already been integrated and working with these guys outside of the organizational structure.”
The Republican is looking to represent District 3 on the north side of town. He faces incumbent Larry Longman in the upcoming primary election.
Price said he had been considering a town council run for some time, but that late last year he was particularly motivated to do so because of issues between residents and development plans, as well as his disagreement with how the town council acted toward those plans.
“One of the reasons why I’m running is I want to represent the current citizens in McCordsville, the ones who form the backbone of the town and have been here for the longest time and who are paying taxes, rather than giving priority and total focus on the new development individuals and trying to recruit new residents to come to the town,” he said.
Last year, Indianapolis-based GDI Companies pursued an annexation and rezone of about 160 acres at the northeast corner CR 500N and CR 700W, where the developer pitched plans for four speculative buildings totaling nearly 1.7 million square feet. The site is just south of the Stansbury neighborhood, where residents objected to the proposal. McCordsville Town Council narrowly voted in favor of the annexation in the first of two votes. While GDI withdrew its plans before they could be finalized, Price said he was disappointed more council members didn’t vote to reject the proposal.
“That was really the straw that said, ‘Instead of sitting back here and listening, it’s time to be accountable,’” he said.
Price has concerns about the way the town approaches residential development as well. He noted most of McCordsville’s latest and forthcoming neighborhoods are zoned as planned unit developments. PUDs establish development standards specifically for the proposed development that are negotiated between town officials and the developer.
“Then after that’s kind of decided, that’s when it goes to the planning commission for approval, and that’s the first time the public really hears about it,” Price said. “And I think it needs to be much more transparent.”
He said he is not against development in general.
“But it’s got to be controlled and balanced,” he continued. “And I think at times the town has been leaning way too much toward, ‘Let’s get as big as we can as quick as we can,’ and we all know when something like that occurs there’s a lot of problems that start appearing. And rather than have them become issues like traffic and utilities and things like that, let’s try to address them as we’re going along.”
Price said when he was on the plan commission he valued feedback from residents. He noted residents collectively get the same amount of time as developers to speak on a proposal at plan commission meetings. He added that if many residents want to speak, however, it often ultimately results in them having to cram their feedback in quickly or some being unable to speak at all.
“The rules are set up so that somebody can’t come in and dominate and take over a meeting and so on, and I understand that fully, but a lot of times the visibility to what happens and how it happens to the citizens of the town isn’t really there,” Price said.
The retiree has a doctorate in analytical chemistry and was an assistant professor at the U.S. Naval Academy. After that he spent 30 years in research and development – five with Mine Safety Appliances and 25 with Roche Diagnostics, where he worked as a departmental supervisor, research scientist and project leader.
“I had to balance budgets and timelines and that sort of stuff,” Price said, adding he also evaluated companies for acquisition. “With all that exposure both to the town and what I did as a scientist, I feel that I’m well suited to be a member of the town council.”