Meet the candidates for Westfield City Council – District 1


Two candidates are vying for the District 1 Westfield City Council seat in the May 2

Republican primary election. Jon Dartt, who retired after a 28-year career with Delta Faucet Co., faces a challenge from Mark Keen, a former superintendent of Westfield Washington Schools who previously held the seat from 2016 to 2019.

Current asked both candidates to respond to the following questions.

John Dartt

Name: Jon Dartt

Age: 62

Occupation/brief employment background:

I retired on March 1, 2022 after spending 28 years with Delta Faucet Company, 22 of those years as a Vice President, Sales. I also served 10 years on the executive team leading the company’s strategic direction.

Previous elected positions: No previous positions held

Community affiliations:

President of the Woodshire Homeowners Association 16 years Secretary of the Woodshire Homeowners Association 1 year Member of Westfield Lions Club 4 years Student Impact and WYSI basketball referee 15 years Westfield Chamber of Commerce 1 year

Why are you running for office/re-election?

As a recently retired Indianapolis business executive, I now have the time to invest in a critical role like the city council. Now more than ever, our city needs leaders who have practical and relevant business experience to address the challenges and opportunities in the years ahead. We need less politicians and more business/financial expertise to guide the city through the next 5-10 years of growth. My business background is a perfect fit for city council as I bring experience in strategic planning, negotiation skills with the nation’ s largest builders and developers, managing large budgets and leading a world class team. I have a strong reputation for driving collaboration, teamwork and relationships.

What are some of your priorities if elected and how do you plan on tackling them?

A few of the key priorities I would encourage other council members to support include:

1) Engage all council members to a “listening tour” to establish a strong working relationship with city officials, developers, public safety officials and citizens. This would take place over the first 90 days of being on the council.

2) Update Westfield’s comprehensive plan. The plan was developed in 2007 with few modifications since then. I would establish a task force to tackle several elements of the plan to ensure that the plan is used as our playbook for growth and development. Small teams would be put in place, consisting of residents, council members and city officials to tackle the critical elements of the plan.

3) We should restructure and invest in our economic development team. Westfield is way behind other Hamilton County cities when it comes to bringing new businesses and the right businesses to the city.

What do you think the council’s role should be concerning economic development?

The council should play a major role in Westfield’s economic development. This would be seven additional headcount driving new business! They should be front and center with all developers, builders and state agencies that are working with companies that want to locate to the state and Hamilton County. Council members can be some of the best advocates and supporters for why a business should locate to Westfield.

How can the city incentivize housing and development projects in Westfield?

I don’t believe the city needs to incentivize residential home builders to build neighborhoods. There are currently 9,000 homes on the books to be built over the next 1-4 years which would be enough to add another 25,000+ residents to our city. We should however drive a solid partnership with the builders to encourage the best product and amenities to the homeowners and renters. I would however encourage the city to use the tools it has as its disposal for attracting new business. Tax abatements and TIF districts to name a few. These are the tools other Hamilton County cities are using and we need to use similar tools if Westfield wants to be in the consideration set for attracting new business.

Westfield remains the fastest growing city in Indiana. What do you believe the council’s role should be to attract businesses and families?

The city council should be front and center when it comes to attracting new business and families to our city. The council has the decision-making ability and influence to bring businesses to Westfield. Working with the Chamber of Commerce, Welcome Westfield, Downtown Westfield Association, Hamilton County Tourism and Grand Park, the council should encourage the development of a task force which would develop a “Why Westfield” story to proactively target Indiana and Midwest companies to relocate to Westfield.

What is Westfield doing well?

Our city does many things well. A few that I believe should be highlighted:

  • Most of us think about fire/rescue and police services only when we need it but these organizations are truly the best in Hamilton County and the state, making Westfield one of the safest cities to live in. We need to encourage our city officials to continue investing in these services. Strong public safety is a major draw for why families and businesses choose Westfield.
  • Grand Park is one of the greatest assets our city has. It has brought in millions of dollars in economic development and spending since it opened in 2014. The indoor and outdoor facilities are the best in the Midwest.
  • The Chamber of Commerce, Welcome Westfield and other city organizations have done a great job of bringing families together to celebrate the holidays, our local businesses, restaurants, parks and sports.
  • Westfield High School is a top-rated school in the state and is a top 10 in the Indianapolis area. The city and board of education have done a great job of staying ahead of the population growth and are building new schools to keep the student/teacher ratio at a level to give students the best education experience.

What are some weaknesses and what ideas do you have to tackle them?

  • Downtown Development:

We need a vision for our downtown. I believe a master plan for downtown should be developed that includes housing, retail, restaurants and offices. Make our downtown a destination for Westfield residents and visitors. More important, this vision needs to include an execution plan which sets timelines for completion.

  • Recruiting regional and headquarter businesses to Westfield:

It is well known that 90 percent of the Westfield tax base comes from residential homes. This compares to approximately 50 percent from other Hamilton County cities. Westfield needs to diversify their tax base which would allow more support for schools, the library, and public safety. My recommendations for tackling this issue:

1) Increase the economic development team from 1 person to 3. This would be more consistent with other Hamilton County cities who are catering to the same businesses.

2) Partner with the Indiana Economic Development Corporation which is an expert in connecting new clients with cities. They can guide Westfield in developing a plan that will create a win/win for Westfield and the business.

  • Rezoning land for commercial development:

Most residents want more businesses to relocate to Westfield however, there is not adequate land set aside for the growth the city desires. I would recommend that the city rezone property for light manufacturing, office and technology. Create a “land bank” of purchased property that can be used for future expansion.

COM School Board Keen

Name: Mark F. Keen

Age: Candidate declined to provide

Occupation/brief employment background:

Superintendent of Westfield Washington Schools, 1997-2016

Previous elected positions:

Westfield City Council, District 1; 2016-2019 (did not run for reelection)

Community affiliations: Served on Chamber of Commerce Board; Hamilton County

Alliance; Growing Schools Coalition

Why are you running for office/re-election?

I’m running for office because I want to help change the way the council interacts with the mayor as well as other government officials, for the betterment of the people. Local government is a team sport, and we need to work together to make Westfield better a better place to live, work, and raise a family. Westfield needs to collect the maximum amount it can from the 1% in property taxes that citizens pay. This council has taken action to reduce the amount that Westfield receives and in turn, that reduction is sent to the county for them to spend. We need to implement long-range planning to prepare for the day when we’re no longer rapidly growing.

What are some of your priorities if elected and how do you plan on tackling them?

I am future focused and want the City to implement a strategic plan for the future to ensure that we not only develop further amenities for our people, but also be in a position to maintain what we have already built. It is vital that we have a solid commercial base to ensure that we have the resources to support our essential services and infrastructure without burdening the people of Westfield with high taxes.

What do you think the council’s role should be concerning economic development?

It is the council’s job to work with the greater government of Westfield to be an enabler to future development. It needs to support the expansion of the economic development department to be in parity with other communities our size, at a minimum. The council must do whatever it can to create a great atmosphere for businesses, so that those who are here can expand. An atmosphere that’s friendly to businesses would also allow site selection companies to recommend Westfield as a great place to locate.

How can the city incentivize housing and development projects in Westfield?

There is little need for housing assistance, as the city has 3000+ approved lots. With commercial projects we need to assist in any reasonable way we can to help developers to have space available for companies to move into. My time spent on the county economic committee has taught me that many companies want to move in quickly rather than do everything from the ground up.

Westfield remains the fastest growing city in Indiana. What do you believe the council’s role should be to attract businesses and families?

The council needs to ensure that we take no actions that would harm our schools, which is the driver of most of our growth. We also need to take advantage of the incentives we have to offer to the right kind of business. Right now, we can offer incentives that do not use Westfield’s budgeted dollars.

What is Westfield doing well?

Our city is one of the best places to live, work and raise a family in the entire state of Indiana. Our schools win awards for academic excellence and our community is thriving, but there is always room to improve. We have a wide variety of commercial areas that have good infrastructure and are ready for companies. If the business atmosphere were to be positive, Wheeler Landing and the area around Springmill and 32 are areas where companies could locate.

What are some weaknesses and what ideas do you have to tackle them?

The major weakness is the present council has completely discouraged major businesses from moving to Westfield. Nearly all of the construction projects are projects approved by the previous council. Over the past 18 months, virtually no new commercial projects have been brought before the council. The best way to change this is to improve the relationship between the Mayor, council, and clerk-treasurer. If this is done, companies will come.