by David Tharp, Chairman
The field is set for the fall election here in Kokomo, and there are stark differences between the candidates for Mayor.
Martha Lake won the Republican nomination, and though I congratulate her, voters should be under no illusion that she waged anything but a negative campaign. She has consistently run down our city and attacked Kokomo’s good name. A mid-size city like ours must attract outside investment and new residents. How can Lake rationally expect to do this if she continues to be so adamantly negative about Kokomo? I am proud to live in Kokomo, why isn’t she?
Her negativeness doesn’t stop there. Martha Lake and her Party are already running one of the nastiest, negative local campaigns we have seen here in Kokomo. They are running wild with anonymous accusations about Mayor Goodnight and conspiracy theories that require extra thick tin-foil hats. Martha Lake’s Party’s facebook page is even posting personal, nasty, anonymous, profanity laden attacks against Mayor Goodnight and his family. These are not random commenters or followers: these are official posts from Lake’s Party. That’s not leadership. That is bullying.
Lake and the Republican Party’s constant attacks and juvenile name calling actually start to make sense when you think about: They have nothing else to say. Instead of offering specific plans or ideas for our city, they offer attacks and vague, fear-based statements. During Lake’s few public appearances, she tends to begin her answers with “Well I’ve heard..” or “I’m not sure if it’s true but someone told me…” No specifics. No plan. No reason beyond personal grudges for running for Mayor.
It’s just another example of the old guard of Republican County Government with old ideas and old grudges. We must demand more from candidates and from campaigns. Our city is moving in the right direction, we cannot let angry, bitter candidates tear it apart.
Voters deserve specificity, details, and for candidates to articulate a positive direction for their community. Lake has provided none. And while Martha continues to say that Mayor Goodnight has been such a bad Mayor, she hasn't yet pointed to 3 or 4 other Mayors or other Cities of similar size that should would try to emulate. It’s a simple question: if she thinks we are doing such a terrible job, then what community should Kokomo look to as a model?
She hasn’t answered that question for a very simple reason: Cities around Indiana look to Kokomo and to Mayor Goodnight as a model for how to successfully run local government, invest in the future, and attract residents. The Indiana Conference of Mayors is even hosting a conference in Kokomo in a few weeks for that reason. Kokomo consistently has a lower unemployment rate than Howard County and the State of Indiana. We are the only county in our area that is gaining population. In fact, we are the only county that is defying a predefined population loss and is instead gaining residents. Major crime is down 24% since Mayor Goodnight took office. Private investment is at record levels with nearly $2.5 Billion invested since 2009. Dozens of new businesses have opened up. New jobs are breathing life into formerly shuttered manufacturing facilities like the sanitary pottery. There is a new business, new amenity, or new development announced nearly every week.
There is a sense of vibrancy, energy, and excitement in Kokomo. That does not happen by accident. It is the direct result of Mayor Goodnight’s and the City Council's leadership and vision. It is the result of their devotion to working together for common goals. It is the result of Greg Goodnight’s love for the City of Kokomo. A love that is unfortunately not shared by his opponent.
Martha said it best during her announcement. She said that she is running because it is the “best time for me.” We don’t need a mayor who decided to run because it is a good time for them. We need, and deserve, a Mayor who works hard every single day to grow our city. Thankfully, we already have one that fits that description.