Q1: What’s new in New Haven?
There’s really a lot going on. Last year was one of the most phenomenal years we’ve had in a long time, and that has carried over to 2017. We’ve added great new merchants downtown, both in traditional storefront venues as well as 32 pop-up vendors at our Wednesday night farmers’ market events. In fact, these have been so successful that we’re looking to increase them to two nights a week this summer. In addition, we’ve opened a community center and we’re working to make it even better.
There’s also a lot of growth going on behind the scenes. We’re currently sitting on six pending announcements about new and expanding businesses. That’s huge. Last year we also received a million dollar grant from the State of Indiana for road projects and we’re applying for another one this year. We’ve been really busy, and it’s been fun.
Q2: What’s your vision for the city of New Haven?
I want New Haven to be the best community we can possibly be and to tell our story to others. As part of a larger metropolitan area, we have a tendency to be overshadowed. We’re trying to let people know that we are a unique, distinct community. It’s easy to live here. It’s quiet and stable and people look out for each other. And while people have access to all kinds of activities in Fort Wayne, we also have a broad palette of our own events. For example, we offer the biggest and best craft beer festival in the area—Brew Haven. We also have a phenomenal cruise-in car show that attracts nearly 3000 people. Of course, many people around the area use our annual Canal Days festival to mark the start of summer. I want to use these types of opportunities to share what we have here with the rest of the region.
Q3: What are your biggest challenges?
Our challenges are no different than those of other communities: There are always more dreams and wants and desires than there are resources. It’s not just money. Having enough time and people are equally important. I have the best staff ever—not only my department heads, but their staffs, too. Everyone wears more than one hat, and they always seem to make it work. They’re dedicated, smart, and passionate about the community. We need more of them, and more hours in the day!
Q4: You’ve been mayor for 18 years. How did you end up in this position?
I never thought I’d get into politics. I first came to New Haven in November 1979 as an EMT. Subsequently, I became a full-time medic, a police reservist, and eventually a police officer. I was the community’s first DARE [Drug Abuse Resistance Education] officer, and I spent a lot of time working on crime prevention and on GREAT [Gang Resistance and Education Training]. In 1999, a group of citizens asked me to run for mayor, and I honestly thought they were pulling my leg when they called to tell me I had won. I love my job; I’m just a servant at heart.
Q5: What is the best thing about New Haven?
How great it is! We try really, really hard to keep the city clean and safe and take care of the little things. We’re logistically well-placed, and we’re a very good value for the dollar. We’ve got a very business-friendly administration with unfettered access to me and my staff. We’re forward-looking and we invest in people to do the right things for the community. Come and see us—we’re not that far away!