Having spent nearly 20 years in public service, as mayor of Noblesville for eight years and three terms on the Common Council, I have seen the good, the bad and the ugly. In September 2018, I walked away from my post as a Common Council At-Large elected position with no official communication to the citizens of Noblesville or explanation for my actions. Now, it gives me no pleasure to speak. I have always put the citizens first and have always represented them aggressively and sincerely. The practice of including the citizens, in the discussion concerning the issues that affect them, has become lost in the fog of self-service. My observation then and now is the current seated council holds little regard for the citizen’s opinions or the community in which they serve. It was the lack of open process that gave me the courage to say enough is enough.
If you think any of the following city business approved the last 3 1/2 years, by the current council and presented by the administration, represented excellence in government, then stop here. If you think the city government was not inclusive or thoughtful in their work, continue to read and remember how your dollars were spent with little regard for you, the tax payer.
It was the ordinance, at the first meeting in January of the new council voting 6 to 3 to pass the cost of trash pickup back to the citizens. The council consisted of several newly elected members in 2016 that were not concerned with the impact of such a decision and did what they were told by the administration. They also knew the next election was four years away and people would forget “so get the deed done early in the term” was the strategy. I was stunned and spoke against such an action noting the resulting unfair costs to citizens. The same council members making decisions in 2016 and sitting in the seats today are the same council (members) running for reelection this May 7. The good news is several council seats are being challenged, as is the mayor position, by concerned and informed citizens.
Do you remember?
Remember, it was the attempt to sell off the historic Old Town Seminary Park for development presented in a closed session between the city administration, council members and the park board.
It was the takeover by the city’s elected officials of a 50-year not-for-profit, the Indiana Transportation Museum housed at Forest Park, again without a fair exchange with citizens. Even more unfair was process and demands made by the city to the volunteers, many Noblesville residents, who were forced to move and sell their collection of historic train cars that can never be replaced including the priceless Flagler Car. The personal train car of Henry Flagler was worth millions. The city forced the car to be sold, for fraction of its value, to an out-of-town buyer. The taking of the rails for a trail that is still in discussion was also a hidden agenda for development rather than the historic train experience adding to the draw for tourism and economic growth through tourism and the quality of life issues for our citizens.
It’s the “downtown plan” costing nearly $100,000 that will turn the downtown into a circus instead of preserving what was passed down by people who did better planning in 1823 than today. The same council members who accepted the plan will, if reelected, be charged with implementation. Little thoughtful time has been given to the most important element of the community, our historic downtown. Everyone talks about it, but in fact, nothing has been done in 100 years to restore and enhance the center of the community.
That brings up the new development planned for downtown, the Levinson Building that will tower over the downtown and be like every other “box” built today with millions of tax payer dollars going into the developer/city partnership, all approved by the council. The new downtown housing structure passed council with glowing remarks even though a rendering was never presented until the last discussion.
It is the council passing abatements for new business with only one new employee promised. What are they doing? If the Pleasant Street corridor or bypass goes as now planned, “will it be pleasant” or just another project with no special design or enhancing features to improve a 200-year forgotten neighborhood of Noblesville. The goal is to move traffic at any cost.
Stop the rubber-stamping and vote for something new
A new mayor and a new council is before you, the citizens of Noblesville, this May 7 Primary Election. Candidates representing city districts and the city as a whole will be selected by each political party for mayor and the nine members of council. Then, in November, the selection will be made from the winners in May representing their party affiliation. In Noblesville, the May election is important as the field is reduced to one in each category. May is last chance for real change that will affect the community for the next four years.
The May 7 election consists of three Mayoral candidates including a seated council member with strong ties to the development community, an experienced school board member with 12 years elected experience who also an attorney, and the third candidate is a business owner with years of community service and a concern for the giveaway of taxpayers’dollars, inclusion of the citizens, the historic value and all quality of life issues.
This election could give the community a new direction, a new inclusion for every citizen and a better future, if the voters take responsibility. It is the year the voters can bring something new to Noblesville and be a part of the future. With a new mayor and at least five new members of the council (five votes is majority), the tax-and-spend era of developer handout deals can end. The doors of city hall can swing open to let in fresh air and welcome the community to the new discussion of how our town will grow and thrive. New energy, new dedication to the citizens and their vision is possible.
First, I encourage the voters to vote. The polls are open now at the (Hamilton County Government and Judicial Center on the west side of the downtown square). The voter can vote at their neighborhood polling place on May 7 also.
Second, if you believe that government can work for the people and can make good decisions, then look toward the new candidates. They bring business experience, passion, preservation, arts and quality growth, including all the good things that make great communities. Candidates who care about the citizens more than the developers are on the ballot.
Making good decisions is not easy. Always it means stepping out and stepping up and not just going along. Rushing to the next “shiny object” is one example of how government usually works and has been the order of business for years in city hall.
It is time to vote for the best, brightest, most dedicated public servants on the ballot and let the politics of government and those who promote it go find another job.
Thank you for reading and considering the outcome of this important election.
Mary Sue Rowland
Mayor, City of Noblesville 1988-1996 and three-term elected council representative