When did you first begin public service?
2012 was the start of my first term on (Carmel) City Council.
What initially made you want to run?
I started working in the community in 2005 and I was on the management team that opened up IU Health North (Hospital), and one of my responsibilities there was to develop a strategy centered around the community. It was at that point that I really got to know the people who live here and work here, members of the city government, other business leaders and really kind of fall in love with the community.
What do you do now as a City Council member to stay connected with the community?
First, I send out a newsletter monthly, and my membership right now is about 1,700 people, and I built that one address at a time. Secondly, I think I’ve had about a dozen or more public meetings where I just host a meeting at a school or a golf course or something like that to get feedback. Usually they’re around a specific topic; perhaps we’re putting in a roundabout or we’re putting in a new path, but also every single council meeting we have a public comment period so anyone from the public can talk about anything at that time, so certainly those are valuable as well.
Photo by May Zhang
How do you deal with topics that the public is divided on?
Well first and foremost, I think it’s important to listen a lot. People want to be heard. Ultimately, we may not agree with everybody; especially when there’s two sides, you’re not going to agree with half of them and whatever decision you make is going to divide in some respect. However, it’s important to listen so that people know that you took their opinion into consideration when making your decision. Second of all, I think it’s really really important to get the facts, and the right facts. A lot of times when these issues pop up, they’re very emotional and facts get skewed, so definitely just get the facts. And third, ultimately I need to make the right decision for what I think is the right decision for the community, keeping my residents’ feedback in mind.
What would you consider to be your biggest impact on the community?
I don’t think I can say solely I’m responsible for any one thing; I mean, we work in a panel of seven and we work with all the city department heads, all the city employees, the Mayor. I would probably summarize it to say that my biggest impact has been being a fearless advocate for Northeast Carmel. They know that I’m active, I’m involved, I’m engaged and I’m responsive, and to me, that’s what I’m here for.