Denney launches bid for Lawrence mayor


Lawrence Common Council at-large representative Shawn Denney has a clear motivation for running for mayor of the City of Lawrence.

Denney recently filed to run in the Democratic primary, set for May 2. Fellow Common Council at-large member Deborah Whitfield also has filed to run for mayor as a Democrat.

“For far too long, Lawrence has been looked at as the sleepy northeast suburb of Indianapolis, a drive-thru community as some have called us,” Denney said. “However, Lawrence is its own city within Marion County, with its own history, legacy, people and community. We have an amazing school district as well as a strong sense of community, so the foundation is there for Lawrence to be even better. As mayor, I want to lead others to see what I see in Lawrence — a great city to work, live and play in, a city of opportunity for businesses large and small, a city to be proud of.”

Denney, 50, said he plans to focus on the issues that directly impact the residents of Lawrence, such as new investments in public safety, clean drinking water and infrastructure projects that include street repaving and pothole fixes, sidewalk additions and stormwater drainage improvements, particularly in neighborhoods that experience flooding. 

“There are also big initiatives which have stretched back for decades that still need to be in focus, such as the new trades district, building a thriving downtown on the Fort, safety improvements on Pendleton Pike, and a continued partnership with our MSD Lawrence Township school district,’’ Denney said. “In all instances, I want to always be mindful to bring equity in opportunity and access of city resources to all neighborhoods in the City of Lawrence.”

Prior to being elected to the Common Council in November 2019, Denney served on the school board.

“Both have allowed me to serve Lawrence as an advocate for our families and our community at the most local level,” Denney said. “At times, that advocacy took me downtown to the City County Building or even to the (Indiana) Statehouse,” Denney said. “What I always found when I came home and met with folks, either on their front porch or in community rooms, is that what party we belonged to on the national level did not matter. What was important is a common-sense solution that benefited the whole community. A solution-based, common-sense approach is how I will address issues once I am in the mayor’s office.”

Denney said he is proud of the expansion of pre-K programing and the Early Learning facilities at MSDLT during his tenure on the school board. 

“The care and quality of service the four Early Learning Centers provide the youngest students in Lawrence is just beyond amazing,” Denney said. “I am very proud of all they continue to do to this day. During this time, I also promoted awareness and helped find resources for special needs and autistic students, advocated for the expansion of career- and college-ready programs for our high school students, and at the time advocated for one of the largest pay increases for teachers in the previous seven years.

“On the City of Lawrence Council, I advocated for, and the council passed, a balanced budget the last two years, passed a $15 minimum wage for all city employees and updated the civil rights ordinance so that all employees and contractors share the same equal opportunities.”

Denney and wife, Amber Denney, have three sons. They are active members of North United Methodist Church.