Q: What do you think is the biggest challenge the City of Madison is facing? Why? What would you propose the city do to address this issue?

A: I think most people will say that one of the biggest community challenges is substance abuse because of the impact it has on so many things ranging from crime, jail overcrowding, loss of production, and impact on future generations.However, substance abuse is just the symptom not the root cause.Why?If we step back and take a more comprehensive and honest look at this issue, we can see that public policy has failed in so many ways and cultivated the scenario we have now. And as often is the case, once public policy does react, the problem is either different and/or much larger.It is easier to be reactive to a problem.Being proactive requires a long-term view, strategic planning, and sacrifices. Small rural communities like Madison are resource constrained in many ways.The biggest challenge Madison has is to grow its population, i.e. household formation.Madison’s population has been stagnating to declining for decades.Madison needs to grow for a number of reasons including (1) meeting demands of our skilled and professional workforce; (2) expand our tax base so that our local government has more resources to fulfill its obligations; (3) add more consumers who will buy local goods and services, purchase durable goods like appliances and automobiles and homes, and (4) create economic opportunity with better paying jobs. The way we accomplish household formation is to scrap the old way to approaching economic development. The strength I bring to the community is having been involved in structuring and negotiating over $5 billion of investments nationwide.With that national perspective and my business background, along with my hometown roots, I will make sure that Madison receives a much stronger return on its investment when it is using city resources such as TIF bonds, tax abatements, grants, loans or special economic designations to attract, retain or expand small and large businesses in our community.We also need to do several more things such as (1) take advantage of our regional location and the significant economic drivers that are taking place around our borders such as River Ridge in Jeffersonville and the future new Ohio River Port in Lawrenceburg; (2) partner more collaboratively with Jefferson County leaders; (3) work extremely closely with the State of Indiana to market Madison and attract capital investment, and (4) expand our investment in improving Madison’s quality of life with high impact investments in our parks, the riverfront, heritage trail, hilltop, and school systems.Madison is ideally located within short commuting distances to grow our population with higher paying jobs. As Madison’s Mayor, my economic development policy will be focused not just on the businesses but to create economic opportunity and a higher standard of living for our residents.I am a firm believer that if we create economic opportunity and make the right front-end investment, we will grow our population, attract capital, and start eradicating our substance abuse issues.

Q: If there was any city policy that you could change on your own at this moment, which would it be and why?

A: There are policies and there are ordinances.As it relates to policies, I would change how economic development is approached. The traditional practice of incentivizing creation of low paying jobs must change. The creation of jobs is important, and I favor making sure the incentives are aligned and what that means is, we reward high impact behavior. Job creators who invest in our community and bring in higher skilled and professional jobs qualify for higher levels of incentives. We need to be innovative and think outside traditional manufacturing as our primary job creator and incorporate more jobs from healthcare, technology, and education. We also need to focus on our trades programs and make sure we are cultivating them appropriately. One other area of high priority is re-aligning the mission of the Historic District Board of Review process and make sure it works well for all our community so that we can continue to attract preservation investment.

Q: If you are elected, in what order would you address the following issues? Order them by which needs to most immediate action to least immediate action. Transportation/mobility, substance abuse, suicide, homelessness, crime, job creation, small business assistance, downtown parking, hilltop enhancement.

A: As a city government, we must address multiple issues simultaneously so while I have listed these categories as requested, there isn’t one sequential approach.An effective city government is one that capitalizes on all the resources in its community to collaborate on multiple public policy initiatives simultaneously.As Madison’s Mayor and with my experience leading initiatives both locally and nationally, I am prepared to tackle all these issues effectively.I will use data to guide our actions so that we can achieve targeted and measurable results.

• Crime/Blight/Public Nuisances, Economic Opportunity/Capital Investment (Job creation/Hilltop Enhancement/Small Business Assistance), Quality of Life Issues (Substance Abuse/Suicide Prevention/Homelessness), Transportation/Mobility, Downtown Parking

Q: Can you provide a brief plan for how you might address each of your top 3 issues?

A: Crime/Blight/Public Nuisances – My platform places this at the top of the list because I want Madison to be the safest community to live, raise a family, work, own a business and to visit.Last year the Madison police responded to over 11,000 calls and made almost 800 arrests.Much of the activity dealt involved our substance abuse problem whether it be theft, domestic and child abuse matters, or crimes against other persons. A high priority for me is to strengthen law enforcement resources with training, staffing, and presence.We will use data to guide enforcement efforts.I have committed to establishing a competitive pay structure for MPD to recruit, train, and retain talented officers and to increase base pay by up to 10%.That’s the first step I will make in ensuring MPD has the correct resources so that it can do its critical job of protecting our community effectively and safely.We will also expand the collaboration with county and state drug task forces to assertively combat substance abuse issues.I also feel community engagement is extremely important and will encourage the creation and support of multiple neighborhood crime watches.An effective crime abatement strategy centers around community involvement and I have no doubt that we will improve public safety.As it relates to blight and public nuisances, I have led the dialogue in the campaign and in the past year in my role as chair of the city’s zoning board that blight isn’t right.It is possible to balance our preservation priorities with public safety in mind and enforce the ordinances we have in place more effectively. Blight creates disinvestment, attracts criminal activity, and dangerous playgrounds for our children. Working collaboratively again with the broader community downtown and on the hilltop, there is no reason that blight and unsafe structures can exist without a plan in place.As it relates to public nuisances, we will do two things, create incentives for property owners, landlords and investors so that they can effectively maintain their properties. Blight and nuisances have terrible consequences for our neighborhoods but approaching it effectively we can improve neighborhoods, reduce crime, increase home ownership and turn something negative into an economic driver.However, there is an accountability aspect to this issue as well.My public policy will enforce what exits, enhance what we can, and create minimum property maintenance standards.

Economic Opportunity/Capital Investment (Job creation/Hilltop Enhancement/Small Business Assistance)

In my opinion and as a product of a low-income family, education and economic opportunity go hand in hand in raising someone out of poverty and creating a positive path in life.Attracting capital and driving investment is what I have done in my career and I have seen this approach have tremendous benefit to hundreds of communities across the country.Raising the standard of living is very important and to accomplish that I will make sure our economic development policies are aligned effectively.I will create an Office of Economic Development that reports directly to the Mayor’s office and really emphasize the city planner and building department roles.I will work with our talented groups on the Madison Redevelopment Commission and Economic Development Commissions to be proactive in expanding development, attracting capital, and creating economic opportunity.My goal will be to align economic development with economic opportunity.We will deploy public funds in a manner that attracts and leverages private capital investment both downtown and all the hilltop.I will create more target redevelopment and economic opportunity zones and incentivize the right types of job creation.I will also focus on our regional identity and capitalize on what is going on around the city of Madison, not just within our borders.My team will create a comprehensive economic development plan for the hilltop to improve identity, connectivity, and commercial development.I will also prioritize the expansion of our cultural arts environment and develop the riverfront as the high priority natural asset that is its.Madison’s riverfront is a powerful economic driver and when combined with our fantastic arts scene, look out for an awesome outcome.

Quality of Life Issues (Substance Abuse/Suicide Prevention/Homelessness

There is no one silver bullet to resolving our community’s substance abuse and mental health issues.However, as I state in the very beginning, we need to be less reactive and more proactive and intentional in our approaches.What does that mean?The four prongs to a path forward include education, prevention, treatment and enforcement.We need to start investing in our children again as they are our future.We have fantastic youth organizations, however, their level of funding from the city and county has hardly changed in the past three decades.Education and prevention will take a long time to show results, but it is a priority. I bring long-term statewide relationships to the office of Mayor and will capitalize on them to affect change.Our State Rep Randy Frye recently sponsored HB 1065 that will address jail overcrowding and form a statewide task force to study the root cause of our overcrowding issue.One of Madison’s part-time residents State Senator Jack Sandlin was a co-sponsor of that bill too.I have stated multiple times over the past five months that my job as Mayor will be to eliminate barriers.That includes working with our Sheriff Dave Thomas to support JCAP (Jail Chemical Addiction Programs) in the jail.This will be one of the most important aspects of stopping recidivism.The last prong is enforcement and I will work with our local law enforcement agencies, court systems, prosecutor’s office and community corrections leaders to deal with this problem effectively so that our community is safe and the offenders who want to get assistance have treatment options.

I am on the Healthy Community Initiatives Substance Abuse teams where we are collaborating with various community leaders, healthcare providers and other stakeholders to find solutions to both substance abuse and suicide.While Madison does not have a residential treatment facility, if we create transportation options for our community, as well as, take advantage of statewide investment and referral options like Indiana 211, we can help facilitate recovery.I was also very active in working in a bipartisan manner with a city council team to address our pain management ordinances so that effective medically assisted treatment options could come to our city.This was also a priority for State Senator Erin Houchin who sponsored SB141 which for the first-time provides comprehensive state regulatory oversight of such facilities and which will now give our community more options, again focusing on eliminating barriers is my priority.I have also been working with the Indiana Department of Mental Health and Addiction to identify solutions to address both our substance abuse and mental health needs.We need to expand the treatment network and work with our social service community who are championing this cause every day.As it relates to homelessness, the best approach is to collaborate with our faith-based community and non-profits to (a) perform a census to determine the magnitude and (b) use that data to create best practices to help those in need.

Q: How would you incentivize and assist small businesses and first entrepreneurs in Madison?

A: Small business is the backbone of every rural community.Unfortunately, most cities only incentivize industrial development. We need to expand our package of incentives for small business too by offering things such as better loan programs to incubate small business and assist with the tremendous up-front costs in opening a business. The tools the city has include TIF loans, grants, tax abatements, microloans, and special economic designations. I will also work with the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs (OCRA) and the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) to establish grants and tax credit incentives for new business development. My plan will be to use the same tools large industry has access to but package it for the small business scale. Our future is to grow businesses here in our community organically, so they are they become the future economic driver I have been emphasizing. Another important aspect of growing our small business community is streamlining processes such as historic district board of review, building department, zoning, fire safety, health department, city financing, and etcetera. The can be daunting but by creating an Office of Economic Development, we place the right emphasis on business development and economic opportunity.