Candidates talk district, citywide priorities at chamber forum

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In preparation for the May 7 primary election, the Noblesville Chamber of Commerce continued its efforts to educate the public on candidates’ views at its April 24 luncheon.

Speaking to the business community, most candidates in the Noblesville municipal election took part in the event that drew approximately 125 people to Purgatory Golf Club.

At the top of the event, mayoral candidates Mike Corbett, Chris Jensen and Julia Church Kozicki each were given time to speak. Candidate Vince Baker was not in attendance. However, much of the time was given to those seeking a seat on the Noblesville Common Council. After self-introductions, candidates were asked only two questions: What is the first priority you have for your district, and what is the next priority you have for the whole of Noblesville?

Here’s how each candidate responded:

District 1

Terry Busby (R): “My No. 1 priority would be funding community services. I’ve always been an advocate of fire and police. The other thing would be to check on the tax rates and funding liabilities of the community. For the total community of Noblesville, it would be to check on (economic development) resolutions to companies coming to Noblesville. Like, when a company says they’re going to employ 25 people, who checks on that? Who checks on whether they’re really doing what they say?”

Mike Davis (R): In District 1, I would make sure that people are taken care of. There are (always) concerns of safety – police, fire and roads – but that rolls into all of Noblesville. So, being able to handle that, getting people where they want to go, supporting the infrastructure we have, making sure the roads can handle everything that is needed, and making sure people are connected through trails.

Mark Hall (R): “(There is) $274 million dollars in debt and lease obligation. That translates to $4,500 for every man, woman and child of the 62,000 people in Noblesville. (District 1 constituents) want to make sure they’re putting someone in place to mind the store, a fiscally conservative, responsible person who will say yes when yes needs to be said and no when it doesn’t.”

District 2

Pete Schwartz (R): “Traffic is a big issue in my district. If you’ve ever driven on (Ind.) 38 heading west out of town in the evening, you know what I’m talking about. For the most part, people are generally happy. I’d like to get some more trails, get traffic taken care of, and I’m a big (proponent) of public safety (initiatives) as a former reserve police officer and volunteer firefighter, but the biggest concern, I think, is development. There are a lot of empty fields in my district, so I’d like to see some development there.”

Mark Skipper (R): “People are very unhappy with (Ind.) 32 and 38. Almost on a daily basis while I’m at work, I see emergency vehicles going up and down (Ind.) 32, and I’m fearful something bad will happen, injury or worse. I think (Ind.) 32 is a big issue and that’s what needs addressed in District 2. On the city side, I’m a small business owner and we talk about shopping small one time a year. I think shopping small businesses should be a (regular) focus. Small businesses should be given a lot more in terms of communication and marketing.”

District 3

Brenda Cook (R): “For District 3, my main goal is that affordable, single-family housing needs to be maintained and encouraged. Within our district, we have the highest number of single-family homes under about $158,000. We need to preserve those homes. We need to help citizens stay in them if they can. Infrastructure is a huge issue. We have brick streets and brick sidewalks. We need to keep those and maintain those.”

Aaron Smith (R): “The biggest issue that I think faces District 3 is (the former) Firestone (plant). It’s not a problem, it’s an opportunity. Most of the residents I’ve talked to want to be a part of the conversation. With the city as a whole, I definitely think that (Ind.) 37, as we are partnering with other cities in the region to build that up, it’s important that we communicate what that’s going to mean for traffic, not only in the short term but also in the long term.”

Rick Taylor (R): “In District 3, (improved) infrastructure is a must. We’ve worked on it in the last eight years but we haven’t done enough, and we can do better in Old Town. With Firestone, I agree with Aaron (Smith), that’s an eyesore, and it’s been an eyesore. We’re working on that, but it’s a slow process. As far as the rest of the city is concerned, infrastructure has got to be No. 1. We’ve got to be able to move traffic. If we want people to visit our downtown and keep it vibrant, we have to do something about traffic. In 2018, the city put out a 10-point capital improvement plan, and moving forward, I would like to get that completed.”

District 5

Jason Myers (D): “For District 5, what I hear when I go to people’s houses, some of the biggest issues are lower income housing. A lot of people are really concerned about being priced out of their home. We need to make sure we’re protecting those lower income houses and keeping our tax rates low. As far as the whole city goes, what I hear over and over and over again is, ‘We don’t want to be Fishers or Carmel.’ Noblesville is expanding and has to expand. There are people moving here like crazy, but we can expand responsibly. What if we put rules into place that would require any new businesses built downtown to match façades and architecture of what we already have? What if we limited the building heights so we were able to keep that small downtown feel? What if we were able to support our small businesses the same way we’ve been supporting our large corporations with huge tax abatements? (These things could) be huge in protecting the charm and value that we love so much about Noblesville.

*Editor’s note: Fellow Democratic District 5 candidate Gary Bartunek was not in attendance.

At-Large

Ayer (R): “I think the No. 1 thing we need to accomplish is solving the east/west traffic problem. Pleasant Street, by far, is my No. 1  priority. It’s a very promising project.”

Peterson (R): “East/west connectivity and anything roads-related is the No. 1 priority. This is a great place to live. People are going to continue to come here, whether it’s organically, through economic development or proactively. We need to stay out in front of that with smart, sustainable growth and infrastructure with east/west connectivity. Shortly behind that is north/south connectivity and also then connecting the trails. We have almost 100 miles of trails, and we need to get those connected so we can get from here to there and even bypass the cars.”

Shanehsaz (R): Economic development is my top priority. If you don’t have money, you cannot do any of the work that has been proposed. As I have met with many residents and business owners, I have (made) a list of items that are on everybody’s list (of concerns), and in order to do those, we have to be able to increase our tax base, make money so that we can invest money in infrastructure

*Editor’s note: Republican at-large candidate Mark Boice was not in attendance due to a prior out-of-town work commitment. His father, Bill Boice, stood in his place to talk about his son but did not answer questions.


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