Westfield Mayor race

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Andy Cook and Jeff Harpe: Who they are and where they stand

Cook

Cook

ANDY COOK

Age: 63

Family: Wife, Barbara, three kids and 9-10 grandchildren, depending on who has a foster child at the time.

Birthplace: Bloomington

Occupation: Mayor

Favorite local restaurant: Rail Epicurian

Favorite movie growing up: “The Graduate”

Favorite part of living in Westfield: It becoming a true family destination

Experience/qualifications to be mayor: Nine years of listening, setting a vision from that listening and implementing that vision; all with financial integrity utilizing my private sector and government experience.

Random Questions

What is your favorite pizza topping? Ground beef

What was your first car? 1949 Willy’s Overland Jeepster

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? Doctor

Background

What were you like as a child? Ornery

What were your parents like and what lesson did they teach you that has stuck with you the most? My parents taught me the basic virtues of life: motivation, honesty, integrity, self confidence and optimism.

What is your favorite childhood memory? Canoe trips with my dad.

What was your first job? Paperboy: Lansing State Journal, East Lansing Route EL 73

Political questions

What was your first experience with politics/campaigning? Being a member of the last town council of Westfield

Why are you running for mayor? I am driven to complete the vision we heard nine years ago the people of Westfield desired.

What is Westfield’s best asset and why? Without question the citizen-driven Westfield Youth Assistance Program that is literally saving children’s lives and now is being duplicated throughout Hamilton County and beyond.

If you could change one thing about the city what would it be and why? Absolutely nothing.

What is your vision of the city in 10 years? Having arrived at answering the question as to the ultimate size of this city as desired by its citizenry.

Managing the city budget is an important role as mayor, what is your experience with finances? Managing a municipal budget has become extremely complex and demands detailed experience and judgment. Tax caps, the recession, responsible use of TIF financing all demand experience. Few cities in Indiana face the gift of grow we do in Westfield. Understanding this uniquely complex challenge cannot be easily accomplished.

Harpe

Harpe

JEFF HARPE

Age: 45

Family: Wife Lisa, Three sons; Brayton 16, Bryce 13, and Mason 13.

Birthplace: Born in Washington DC, raised in Ludington, Michigan.

Occupation: Firefighter/EMT for the past 12 years.

Favorite local restaurant: Super Bowl Pho in downtown Westfield.

Favorite movie growing up: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.

Favorite part of living in Westfield: Socializing with the longtime residents of Westfield at White House donuts.

Experience/qualifications to be mayor: I am an assertive leader and willing to work with others as I’m determined to bring positive solutions while considering the “big picture” and the many facets of growth in our City.  My experience through the Military and the Fire Department have taught me leadership skills and discipline that are applicable to managing city government.  I have experience with budgets with my personal rental business and an understanding of municipal budgets through the fire department.  I will have no conflicts of interest and I will not play favorites. The interests of the City and its residents will motivate and determine my actions. My life has been spent in service from the military and beyond, and I would now like to serve the residents of our City.

Random questions 

What is your favorite pizza topping? Pepperoni.

What was your first car? Plymouth Horizon.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? To be a professional bicycle racer.

Background 

What were you like as a child? I was a determined child and would set goals and accomplish them.

What were your parents like and what lesson did they teach you that has stuck with you the most? They believed in God, family, hard work, and eating evening meals together.

What is your favorite childhood memory? On weekends as a family we would go to my grandparents’ house for a meal.

What was your first job? Working on my grandparent’s orchard.

Political questions 

What was your first experience with politics/campaigning? When I became a firefighter 23 years ago. I have worked for many different politicians through the years and have helped on multiple campaigns.

Why are you running for mayor? I love my community and I am greatly concerned with how Westfield City officials are conducting business with taxpayer money. I don’t believe that it is the Mayor’s responsibility to play economic developer with taxpayer money. That should be left to the professionals in the private sector. Westfield is the smallest, but one of the fastest growing cities in the state. We are at a crossroads and I believe that the next four years are going to define our community. I would like Westfield’s residents to be known for their big hearts and small town values, and not for their big city debt.

What is Westfield’s best asset and why? The best asset is the people of Westfield as they ultimately define Westfield. The rich history and strong values established here years ago by the Quaker founders, their involvement in the Underground Railroad, and the courage they have shown in the past created a community that has continued to attract good people and business. Our community is recognized as a great place to raise families with all Westfield has to offer. I look forward to working with the people, drawing on their input and involving them in all aspects of City government to continue to define our City as a unique community. The people came together and created a Comprehensive Plan describing their community and I want to respect that vision and work to make it happen.

If you could change one thing about the city what would it be and why? To lower City debt and taxes. I believe the taxpayers are entitled to a fiscally responsible government. I will ask for a detailed audit of the City’s finances including known and unknown liabilities. I will review expenditures in each fund, including TIF funds.  I will work to negotiate the best options and rates for the City bonds that will be refinanced in the next 3 years. I will work with the Council and departments to reorganize and restructure city-funded projects to make them the most cost-effective projects without sacrificing quality. I will not support new taxes on our residents.

What is your vision of the city in 10 years? I envision that Westfield is a fiscally viable City and has meshed its growth well with its history.  I envision that the City’s growth has enhanced existing neighborhoods, provided homes for people of all economic levels, kept our schools strong, provided recreational opportunities, included churches and faith facilities, and attracted business and industry. I see that our City has developed into a community with jobs and futures for our kids with next-level educational institutions and good paying jobs. I see a safe place for all to grow and retire. I see a City government open and responsive to the people. I see development by a multitude of developers on a level playing field. I see a community rich in amenities and history that attracts and welcomes visitors. I envision a community working together with it’s elected officials to continue to grow and thrive.

Managing the city budget is an important role as mayor, what is your experience with finances? I am familiar with municipal budgets working for a fire department. I have an understanding of tax rates. I have been in the real estate rental business for 12 years and believe in responsible budgets. I have never filed for bankruptcy personally or in business. I know to consult and hire qualified financial advisors for advice, review, and certification. I’ve been studying bonds, city financial reports, contracts, purchase agreements, budgets, lease and management agreements, proposed projects and developments. I’ve been reviewing the documents available on the Department of Local Government and Finance state site regarding revenues, expenditures, cash, investments, and funds. I’ve reviewed the State Board of Accounts audits to understand we should change from a cash basis of accounting so that we can better manage the City’s financial business. I also believe we should offer the residents a full and complete copy of our budget annually and submit monthly budget performance and investment reports to the full Council and residents. Those changes will make the City finances transparent to the City and make our government accountable to the people.

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