It’s no surprise. Scott Willis will be the next mayor of Westfield.
Representing District 1 on the Westfield City Council for the past three years, Willis garnered enough support to win the Republican nomination in the May 2 primary, defeating Kristen Burkman and fellow city council member Jake Gilbert. With no challenger coming forward by the July filing deadline, Willis is set to become only the second mayor in Westfield’s history.
On Jan. 1, Willis will succeed Republican Andy Cook, Westfield’s first and only mayor who has served four terms since his election in 2008. He declined to run for a fifth term.
Willis has been a resident of Westfield for 18 years. However, his connection to the city goes back much further than that.
Willis grew up outside of Kokomo. His grandfather was the surveyor in Howard County. With Howard being the more populated of the two counties at the time, and Hamilton County not having its own surveyor, Willis’ grandfather often surveyed both counties. Willis worked with his grandfather in the summers and remembers helping him survey areas like the Sandpiper Lakes development.
Willis graduated from Taylor High School about 5 miles southeast of Kokomo. As a member of the football, basketball and track teams, he remembers playing Westfield High School, which was the smaller of the two schools back then.
Once a Marine
“My family was passionate about serving,” Willis said.
His father and multiple members of his family served in the U.S. Marine Corps. His biological grandfather, William Arnett, Jr., served in the Army Air Corps and was killed in action in the Pacific during World War II. His siblings are all police officers and teachers.
With that heritage, it’s no surprise that when the United States launched Operation Desert Storm in 1991, Willis felt the urge to visit the local Marine recruiter. By the time he graduated from Purdue University and completed Officer Candidate School, Desert Storm had ended. But for Willis, the decision had been made, and he remained committed. That commitment would last for 30 years, during which he served for four years on active duty before joining the USMC Reserves. He was mobilized to active duty in 2005 to go to Iraq, where he served for seven months.
During those 30 years of service to his country, Willis also started and ran two successful companies. One, Arnett Management Solutions, he sold in 2020.
Spirit of Service
Willis learned from his grandfather at an early age that there is always an opportunity to make a difference.
His entry into community service in Westfield began through coaching his kids in a wide range of sports. Through the years, Willis served on a variety of boards and committees, including the Westfield Washington Public Library, the Westfield YMCA, the Westfield GOP Club and Student Impact. He co-chaired the political action committee for the 2016 school referendum, which passed with a record margin of victory in the state of Indiana. He has also been involved in numerous veteran organizations.
“Politics was the last thing I was thinking about,” Willis said. “But the doors just kind of opened.”
In 2020, Willis ran unopposed and was elected to the Westfield City Council.
“I absolutely love leading and making an impact on my country and community,” Willis said.
A 10-Year Plan
“My wife and I chose Westfield back in 2004 because it was a small town,” Willis said. “It obviously has grown and changed beyond what we envisioned happening. What I have come to understand over the last years of living in Hamilton County is that change is going to come. We’re not going to stop it. I take the approach of, ‘Let’s lean into it and be strategic, so that we can look back in 20 or 30 years and be proud of what we’ve built.’”
One of the most important issues to Willis is infrastructure.
“I’m already working on a thoughtful, 10-year plan for the city,” Willis said. “I think it’s really important to provide transparency but also to show citizens that we have a plan and a way to pay for it.”
Other important goals for Willis include the revitalization of the downtown area, growing and diversifying the city’s tax base and prioritizing public safety.
Willis wants to see Westfield as “a place where you can live, work and play,” but he stresses that he doesn’t want it to be an exact copy of neighboring cities.
“There are aspects of Carmel that I would be thrilled if we could emulate in Westfield,” Willis said. “But I want Westfield to be unique. We’re going to look at the best of Carmel and of Noblesville, but we want to build something uniquely Westfield moving forward.”
Scott at a Glance
Children: Sophia, 20, Brenna, 18, Graden, 15
Alma Mater: Purdue University
Degree: Civil Engineering with a minor in hydraulics and environmental engineering
Favorite Founding Father: George Washington