Jeff w/Muncie BisonWhen I decided to run for City Council in the 2nd District, it was out of a desire to serve my community. I’ve been working in and for the community for more than a decade; working for several non-profit organizations, serving on committees aimed at improving our community, helping plan large-scale community events, volunteering my time to help further the mission of other non-profit organizations in Muncie, and supporting others doing the same. I’ve committed myself to the betterment of my hometown and to be a part of the solution to problems we face as a City. I do this for one reason…I love Muncie!

Muncie is more fortunate than most cities of its size in Indiana. We have a world class University and Hospital, a number of philanthropic foundations who support top-notch non-profit organizations serving tens of thousands of people, and a large group of people giving their time to make the community the best it can be. There’s a spirit of partnership among all of them to work together to achieve this goal, for all of us!

I believe our city’s government has stood in the way of much of this progress, and at times been counter to it. Make no mistake; I know the city has been and is a part of many of these partnerships to make our community better, but the lack of trust citizens have in local government has led to suspicion of motives and proven to be a roadblock to projects which should receive overwhelming support from our entire community. A lack of transparency, lack of accountability, a lack of ethical leadership, and a lack of communication between elected officials and the citizens of Muncie has created the mistrust which stand in the way of real progress. 

I decided to run for City Council, in large part, because I recognize this problem and want to be a part of the solution. The number one priority of the next administration and City Council should be to start the long process of rebuilding the trust that’s been lost. This can be done in many ways including, but not limited to, complete transparency, a concerted effort to communicate with constituents on solutions and an invitation to those citizens to be a part of the conversation, accessibility of public servants to hear the concerns of their constituents, and detailed explanations of why certain decisions are made.

Most importantly, we need to set aside political differences and come together to act in the best interest of those we represent. The Republican and Democrat labels shouldn’t matter in decision making and we should work together to find solutions to issues facing Muncie. If elected, I will work with each member of council and whoever our next Mayor will be to move Muncie forward! As John F. Kennedy said, “Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer.”. If elected, this will be my goal. I humbly ask for your support. 

My Position on Issues

All meeting dates and times should be posted on the city’s website, along with videos and minutes from each meeting in an easily accessible database. It’s important to be transparent, and to allow citizens (if they are unable to make meetings, but are interested to know what’s going on) to be as informed as they choose to be.

It’s vitally important for elected officials to be connected to their constituents. If elected; I will hold monthly meetings, ahead of scheduled City Council Meetings, to go over the upcoming agenda and to discuss any concerns people may have over issues in the community. I will be accessible, by email, to my constituents, and will reply in a timely manner to discuss any topic and to help in any way I can. 

I will also create an email database, to those who opt-in, to send out updates on what’s happening in your City Government and to ask for feedback on important issues.

It’s easy for political candidates to say that they believe in accountability and oppose corruption – we’ve all heard it for decades – but what we never hear are specifics about what they actually intend to do about any of it, and then those sentiments evaporate once they get elected into office. I believe we have to change that.

If elected, one of my first actions will be to work with my fellow council members to adopt an official Code of Ethics for the City of Muncie, and establish an Ethics Commission to enforce that code.

Under this plan, a commission consisting of members from both the council and administration, as well as non-political appointees from Ball State University and our legal community, will review any reported ethics violations and present its findings to the City Council for remedy.

Many communities already have successful examples of these programs in place, so this is not a wheel that has to be invented. My team is currently researching other communities’ approaches and drafting a proposal that best fits Muncie’s needs. When completed, we will make it available on my website for review and collaboration.

I also want to challenge all other current candidates, both Republican and Democrat, to pledge their support to this initiative.

We, as a community, need to be more careful about spending. We need to ensure projects have long-term thinking/plans, to make sure those projects are maintained (Medians, Cornerstone Park, other) and not a waste of money/resources. We need to be more selective of bond measures to weigh the impact on the overall community. We need to make sure Council is receiving a budget which is accurate and true, and department heads throughout city government are spending wisely and living within their means.

We need to encourage and assist locally owned businesses to open and incentivize existing businesses to grow. Offering tax abatements and other incentives to national chains that compete with locally owned businesses should be more restrictive and more carefully considered.

We need to look at the local building codes (state vs local) and work with local businesses to make it easier to comply. It shouldn’t matter who the person opening, or expanding a business, is. We need to be fair, and to encourage local citizens to open businesses. We need to do what we can, as a community, to help them be successful.

Every $100 spent at a local business returns $68 to the local economy vs the same $100 at a corporate chain which only yields $43.  Local retailers spend more than twice as much buying goods and services from other local businesses. They bank locally, hire local accountants, attorneys, designers, contractors, and other professionals; advertise in local media, and source inventory from local firms.

Numerous studies have shown that healthy economic development requires community investment in quality-of-life and quality-of-place. That is the only way that we will attract new and retain existing talent. As a city council member, I will focus on two key aspects of this:

First, we need to invest in new resources that improve quality living in Muncie. That means public green spaces, expanded bike lanes, connecting neighborhoods to existing trails, and supporting neighborhood association initiatives.

Second, we need to make sure that our existing resources are maintained and replaced when necessary. For example, when our schools are consolidated, leaving vacancies in our neighborhoods, they need to be replaced with assets that appropriately fill those voids.