Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen, and thank you all for being here today, and for inviting us to join you. To the Rotary Club of Evansville, I thank you for this wonderful event and the opportunity to speak with some of the most active and influential members of our city, our businesses, and our community.
As you look around town, you will see that Evansville… is changing. And I applaud Lloyd Winnecke for bringing a new appearance to Evansville. Under Lloyd Winnecke, new buildings are going up. Old buildings are being restored. A new face has been brought to the downtown area, to Haynie’s Corner, and to the Arts District. A new penguin exhibit is coming to Mesker Zoo. And a new Aquatic Center is coming to Garvin Park.
Evansville has essentially been getting a facelift. Our wrinkles are being tucked away, and our features are being highlighted. Our gray hair has been dyed to a darker brown, and our bifocals… to contacts. We have spent hundreds of millions of dollars to change the outward appearance of our city… but we have to understand that when a man or woman gets a facelift… it may change their appearance, but it doesn’t change who they are on the inside.
The initial steps have been taken to make our city look better from the outside. For that, again, I applaud Lloyd Winnecke for investing in the downtown area. …But now it’s time to help our community feel better on the inside by investing… in them.
Sure, we can buy and build all the buildings we want, but if we don’t have the money left over to pay them off and to maintain them, the overall condition on the inside of our community will eventually pull those beautiful facial features into the frown lines and crows feet of yesterday.
Touting cosmetic accomplishments and stating surface-level successes will hold the line of our conversations and keep a smile on our collective face, but beauty is not found in appearance only, but it’s what is on the inside that determines… our true beauty.
So, just like the pioneers of this great country, we must not look only to the appearance of things but get to the heart of matters, to objectively recognize the problems, and bring forth much-needed solutions.
Solution-Oriented Pioneers is what we need in Evansville, to bring the positive changes we all desire. If we focus on the appearance of this city only… without recognizing our internal flaws, we will overlook the course and direction of our future, and we will have invested in a fleeting cause.
Let’s look at the problems for a moment, and recognize our need for change.
– Nearly 25% of our population lives in poverty. That’s 27,260 people. There is a need for change.
– While some will brag that chronic homelessness is on the decline, overall homelessness in Evansville has actually increased by 12% in the last year alone. Chronic-homeless-numbers do not matter to the more than 50 recently homeless individuals who are suffering through their newly-found situations. There is a need for change.
– 97% …that’s 97% of the cities in Indiana… is considered safer than Evansville in violent crime and property crime. There is a need for change.
– In the past several years, Evansville has been named the Meth Capital of the U.S., the Suicide Capital of America, the most depressed city, and the Most Miserable city in the country. There is a need for change.
– Heroine activity, drug overdose deaths, stabbings, and shootings have filled our local news in recent days. There is a need for change.
– A $20 million dollar hotel which stands at half the height which was promised us, remains at only a 47% occupancy rate. A Medical School which was projected to bring 2,000 students to Evansville has fallen drastically short. The vacancy rate of buildings in Evansville is through the roof but we continue to invest in more. There is a need for change.
– When the projections are high, but the results… are low, eventually it will be the taxpayers that have to pay the piper. There is a need for change.
– $4 million dollars in First Responder Medical bills remain unpaid. And the morale of our First Responders has plummeted over their Health Insurance and the lack of backing in our city. There is a need for change.
While the cosmetic appearance of Evansville is becoming more and more beautiful every day… if we continue to highlight that beauty and ignore the problems at the core, Evansville will continue in the way that it has if we don’t recognize that need for change.
If we ignore the problems, we will continue to fix what is not broken. We will take on unnecessary projects, we will spend money unnecessarily, and we will sacrifice our desired results.
Additionally, the overall condition of a city cannot be transformed if we only transform one part of the city. Residents and business owners feel neglected in parts of town that are not downtown. I will support and bring change to the West Side, the East Side, the North Side… and especially the South Side. And I will do it by working with developers, by working with organizations, and by working with the community.
Evansville’s focus has been cosmetic. My focus as mayor will be to bring the positive results we need to the very core of our city, to fill the empty buildings with value and character for the purpose of building our economy. To cause what’s inside to reflect the beauty of the outside.
I will work with organizations to find the best ways to bring in attractions that actually attract, which would also increase and better our economy. Simultaneously, I will focus on working with local businesses for the best options available to grow our city and to expand its population. I will only invest in capital improvement projects that actually improve capital. And I will bring conservative projections with high results.
As mayor, I will focus my efforts on bringing those results for the citizens of Evansville. I will cut unnecessary overspending. I will bring about full and absolute government transparency and accountability. And I will bring a fresh outlook to running a balanced budget with a focus on the bottom line.
I will be committed to keeping taxes low. I will work with developers to bring about more affordable housing. I will work with local businesses and business owners to help them succeed in this city. I also will work to attract potential residents to our community to bring forth a population growth that we haven’t seen in over 50 years.
Ultimately, I will return the eyes and the heart of this city from the high-dollar projects… back… to the most valuable assets we have… our people.
Mayoral Candidate for the City Of Evansville
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