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 the issue?

A: There is no greater challenge facing the City of Madison than that of Substance Abuse.This issue is negatively impacting families, schools, crime, local business, health and social service providers more than any other challenge in a generation.This challenge is not unique to Madison.Most of our nation’s communities are dealing with this as well.

I have spent hours listening to community stakeholders during the last year while preparing to lead our city.These have included:school officials, business leaders, police officers, hospital officials, members of our justice system, and a host of citizens that call Madison home.To a person they identify substance abuse as the most detrimental threat to our community.

I have prepared a Comprehensive Substance Abuse Plan with detailed Jefferson County statistics, local treatment options, and action steps to help stem this scourge locally.While the full 11 page plan can be viewed at www.julieberryformayor.com; the Plan includes assisting local not-for-profits with a Quarter House option to complement our existing Half Way Houses (Ruth Haven and Jefferson House); A strong Common Nuisance Ordinance to effectively deal with real estate used for the illegal drugs; and Raising local Police Salaries to be competitive with surrounding areas. Currently the Madison Police Dept. is down several officers, and salaries must be raised to attract and retain personnel. These salary increases will come from one of three sources (or a combination of the three):possible revenue from the public safety income tax being proposed by the County; budget cuts; or restructuring of existing budget line items. This is specific information – not rhetoric.

Myself, along with many others, have participated in the Healthy Initiatives Program Substance Abuse/Suicide and Mental Health committees.Over 325 people are participating in this effort. Dedicated volunteers have been working diligently to provide recovery options for those suffering from addiction. Over ¼ of the babies born locally are born to addicted mothers, and are therefore addicted themselves at birth. I call that a crisis. I pledge to be personally involved in reclaiming our community from the scourge of substance abuse.

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

A: I would streamline the Historic District Ordinance to make it easier for people seeking to improve their properties to work with the Building Inspector’s Office, and not have to go through a full board hearing.There have been a host of dedicated board members through the years, but there is still misinformation about the ordinance.Paint color, for example, is not an issue the board has jurisdiction over.Common sense streamlining could help keep the ordinance workable.

Some people trying to do the right thing feel intimidated by the process.I’d like to work to change that dynamic.Public hearings have been held during the last year to help with this effort.It is my hope that input will be incorporated into changes the City Council can enact.

Q: If elected, in what order would address the following issues?Order them by which needs to most immediate action to least immediate action.Can you provide a brief plan for how you might address each of your top 3 issues?

A: My first priority is substance abuse. This issue, however, includes suicide, homelessness, and crime.This epidemic does not discriminate between rich and poor families. This epidemic shows no mercy for children of the addicted.Homelessness and suicide are often a result of substance abuse.Mental health and addiction usually go hand in hand. We have approximately 40 homeless people (the figure changes depending upon the season and events,) according to law enforcement and local not for profits. The Jefferson County Suicide rate is twice the rate, percentage wise, of the state of Indiana. And crime is often a tool of those addicted to support their habit. Each of these are taking a horrific toll on our community and must be at the forefront of our efforts to make Madison a better place for all residents.

Job creation and small business assistance are a close second. Both are vitally important to our economic health. A good job can solve a multitude of problems. I will work tirelessly to attract jobs that can draw our local youth back to Madison following college or trade school training. We have lost population in the last few decades and action to change that is needed.

Hilltop enhancement, transportation mobility and downtown parking are also important actionable items.I think we can greatly help those who live downtown by attracting a downtown grocery store within walking distance of most residents. That will be a priority. I have also proposed extending the Michigan Road sidewalk on the hilltop to Autumnwood Drive, and participating in the Clifty Drive enhancement efforts.Public transportation is not ideal in Madison, but is helped with Catch A Ride. More work is needed in all three areas.Downtown parking is available within a short walk of most areas. Angle parking has been proposed on Main Street/St. Rd. 56 to provide additional parking. It remains to be seen if that will be a good or bad idea.

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

A: I believe the Mayor of Madison needs to lead economic development. I was a former Special Projects Director for Madison during a time of economic downturn. We implemented an Urban Enterprise Zone through a state program that offered tax incentives for small businesses that were investing in their companies through increased lines, hiring, or improvements. I will be alert to those types of programs, and also think we can use TIF funding to help with local initiatives.

I will work with existing businesses on a plan to attract needed suppliers.The nearby River Ridge development will also be a source of recruitment opportunity.Shared work space is also a concept attractive to first entrepreneurs, and can be made available locally.I have already had preliminary conversations with companies located at the Purdue Technology Center with an interest in patent production alternatives.Strong broadband capability is also necessary.Madison is poised for this type of development.

I am the only candidate in this Mayoral race with a proven track record of job producing recruitment.I am also the only candidate in this race with a great amount of experience in water, sewer and storm water.Businesses (large and small), as well as residents, depend upon clean, affordable utilities.