Candidates face off in town hall forum

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Zionsville residents were eager to learn more about their options in the upcoming municipal election. Zionsville Town Hall was filled Oct. 22 during a forum for Zionsville Town Council candidates, hosted by the Zionsville Chamber of Commerce.

Each candidate had the opportunity to answer one question about what their top three priorities would be if elected.

“Three things I will focus on if elected are protecting unique character of Zionsville, increasing transparency and using financial knowledge to maximize tax dollars,” said Bret Brewer, a Democratic at-large candidate

Brad Burk, a Republican at-large candidate, said he hoped to diversify and expand the tax base, establish better transportation infrastructure and focus on public safety.

“The root causes of some concern of folks who live in Zionsville is how well we are proactively managing growth and how well are we preserving the best of Zionsville and Zionsville’s past with an eye to future,” he said.

Alex Choi, a Republican at-large candidate, said his three priorities were responsible development, communication and transparency and mental health issues, such as the opioid problem.

“What I have found out in leading … is I’m not the smartest person in the room, and I don’t have all the solutions, so reaching out to the (experts) in the community is going to be a big part of this,” he said.

Kristine Towns, a Democratic at-large candidate, said she hopes to establish better communication, host meet and greets and discuss concerns in person with constituents.

“My first priority for the town council is I would like to establish a more consistent line of communication with people,” she said.

Julie Johns-Cole, a Democratic candidate for District 2, said her top priorities were economic development, re-evaluating the strategic plan and parking.

“One of reasons I decided to get involved was it’s difficult for me to sit on the sidelines. I’m definitely a doer and a builder,” she said.

Jason Plunkett is currently an at-large councilor who is a Republican running for District 2. He identified public safety, responsible growth and continued transparency as his priorities.

“Public safety is first in my mind, no questions. Without a safe place for the people of Zionsville to play, live and work, there’s really nothing else,” he said. “We must be safe and we must protect our children.”

District 4 Republican candidate Joe Culp said his three-tiered approach was economic development, infrastructure and a master plan.

“I don’t have to live here my entire life to know that we can work together as a community,” he said. “And, at the end of the day, operations executives know how to execute and get those plans in place.”

Andrea Simmons, a Democratic candidate for District 4, identified transparency, honoring zoning rules and filling Creekside Corporate Park as some of her top priorities.

“Every town office, board, commission and council must involve residents throughout the concept, bidding, budgeting and design process,” she said. “Agendas for meetings must be published with sufficient notice, and meeting minutes must be detailed and published as soon as possible.”

Craig Melton, a Republican District 3 candidate, said he wanted a safer West Oak Street, to focus on funding public safety,  and to cultivate relationships with county representatives.

“As a District 3 representative, it’s unique. It’s very rural, and many services are provided by the county,” he said. “I plan to continue to cultivate and maintain relationships with county representatives and surrounding municipalities, i.e. Whitestown.”

Tim Ottinger, a Democratic District 3 candidate, identified Creekside Corporate Park, economic development and traffic congestion as his top issues.

“Let’s get the deal done,” he said regarding Creekside. “What are you doing out there to find people to come into that development and bring a tax base and employees to spend money in our town?”


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