Lawrence council elects new leaders, looks to 2016


By Sam Elliott


The Lawrence Common Council — with six new members — met for its first 2016 meeting Jan. 4, electing a new president and vice president, approving a new council attorney and hearing from new mayor Steve Collier as everyone looked forward to a new year in Lawrence.

Joe Williams, a Democrat representing District 4, will serve as the new council president. Williams was nominated by Sherron Freeman (D-District 3) and was elected by a 5-3 vote over former president Tom Shevlot (R-District 5), nominated by Bob Jones (R-At-large).

Williams has been a Lawrence resident for 18 years and retired from the city’s police department in 2008. He is also a retired master sergeant after more than 27 years of U.S. Army service.


“I want to give thanks to God our heavenly father for this opportunity to serve the people in the City of Lawrence and to my peers who have confidence and trust in me to lead the council,” Williams said.

Lisa Chavis (D-At-large) will serve as vice president of the council. She was nominated by Elizabeth Wheeler (D-District 6) and elected by a 5-3 vote over Shevlot, nominated by Jones.

Jonathan Hughes, a partner at Bose McKinney & Evans, will be the new council attorney. Hughes has previously worked with the Town of Mooresville, City of Fort Wayne and Madison County Council, among other experience. He was nominated for his new role by councilor Tyrell Giles (D-District 1) and approved by a 6-2 vote.

Collier addressed the council for the first time as mayor and welcomed the new councilors to their roles.

“I can remember very clearly about four years ago taking my first seat on the council and probably not realizing at the time until about that very evening what an awesome responsibility that we have here,” Collier said. “I’ve always believed and will believe until the day I die that the most effective form of government, that which touches us every day, is municipal government.”

The mayor spoke on a number of issues he wants his administration and the city to at least begin addressing as soon into his term as possible, including a new no-kill animal shelter in Lawrence, a contractual deal with Indianapolis for storm water projects, a plan to better utilize and revitalize the Sterrett Center, a new ladder and engine for the fire department and better plans for handling ordinance violations to bring revenue into the public safety department.