I was excited to hear that students from Westfield High School where organizing a debate between Current Mayor Andy Cook and Challenger Jeff Harpe, as well as the what seems like 82 City Councilors up for election. Unfortunately, it was terribly attended and besides family and the regular 6 that seem to go to everything, there were less then a dozen citizens.
Birch Dalton and Matthew Tully did great jobs keeping things moving and made sure that each candidate kept on time and was able to have a fair shot at promoting themselves. You can tell that Birch has spent a lot of time working with these students and it was pretty cool to watch them involved and showing an interest. I could not have been further from engaged at that age and things would be so much more different if students found the value in early participation in local politics.
So to start with the Mayor candidates, I am still boggled at why Jeff Harpe wants to be Mayor and why Mayor Cook is such an obvious target by the opposition. Jeff Harpe continues to talk about being a Public Servant but being employed by the Fire Department does not make you a Public Servant, it makes you a Public Employee. Public Servants volunteer without recognition and work hard to make things better. They do not take a charge against their own community through lawsuits and false accusations in my eyes. I also see little ability in Harpe to sit at a table with a Tech Company or a Sports Franchise swaying them to bring their company and employees to Westfield Indiana. Every time he starts to talk, he gets less and less credible and I don’t think he is a dumb Man. He is a smart caring dad that has a vested interest in Westfield but he has gone about this all wrong and he has allowed a small number of angry business people prop him up and be the fall guy for what is quickly becoming a failed campaign. The last guy that did that basically disappeared locally and has little credibility in the community. Mayor Cook cleans up at these debates as he has spent the obvious time submerged in the growth of Westfield and personally supporting so many great causes. I don’t agree with everything Mayor Cook has to say and the way he has done things, but I sure as heck like the results. Our downtown is busy and the restaurants are making money. Several years back a restaurant could not keep its doors open and because of Grand Park they are seeing growth and future expansion. That did not come from sitting and letting private development to make things happen.
As for the Councilors, its a complete snooze fest from a contest point of few. We have been lucky to have a council that was as committed in the last few years as this one. They had some pretty hard decisions to make and that comes with controversy, but they made them and they owned them. The Men opposing the Council are just mad that they are pulling the strings. hashtag angryron seems to be catching on and I am not sure personality has ever had such an importance as with that guy. He HATES everything that has happened in the last few years in Westfield and its sad to watch. Baudry seems to be a decent guy with a want for Westfield to grow responsibly but he doesn’t seem to have a plan or the effort to do the handwork that comes along with City Council. McKinney is the biggest disappointment to date as I want nothing more then a younger professional to participate at the Council level. McKinney seems to think he is doing something no one else has done before but in fact he is just spinning bad information and spewing arrogance along the way. I would have loved for a professional our age to connect with the Young Professionals of Westfield or one of our local networking events to garner support but his motive seems different then just a better city. As a young professional I don’t relate to many of the councilors but I want their great work. Our generation has some great ideas and hustle but the last thing we need is a McKinney representing us politically.
Overall the debates are lame and a waste of time and that might explain the pitiful participation. But in the near future Westfield is going to be giving a gift of revenue from Hospitality visits and a top growing suburb to Indianapolis and we had better be ready. Bringing in new blood with only a vendetta in mind and no real plan or experience could be detrimental. We need a confident leadership with the support of the overall community that has the professional experience to run a city like Westfield. I would also hope that more then ever, the younger voters jump in and pick a candidate to support that represents something they care about. Westfield is not the Bestfield because of uninvolved residence and table talk. Its the Bestfield because of community involvement and leadership that can continue to grow on our amazing assets and location for many generations to come.