An Ear to the Ground

The return of Traveling City Hall is only one of the new mayor’s early priorities

Editor’s note: This story was updated Jan. 5 with additional city appointments and news about the Traveling City Hall program.

Stephanie Terry has much on her mind as she begins duties as Evansville’s 35th mayor, but she says she’ll continue to listen to city residents during her first 100 days in office, and beyond.

Restoring the mayor’s office Traveling City Hall program is one plank in the “First 100 Days Roadmap” that Terry presented in her office on Jan. 3, two days after her historic inauguration as the city’s first woman mayor and first Black mayor.

United Neighborhoods of Evansville is partnering with Terry to hold her administration’s  first Traveling City Hall at 5:30 p.m. Feb. 22 at in the C.K. Newsome Community Center. Terry and city department heads will be on hand at the traveling city hall programs.

“One thing we learned during the campaign is that people wanted an opportunity to sit down and have conversations and share their ideas (and) their concerns, but also their dreams for our future,” Terry says. “We want to continue ensuring that happens and (telling residents) that we’re readily available, here to serve them, and want them to be a part of our forward progress.”

Terry has named some of her senior staff members, such as Deputy Mayor Lindsay Locasto, who stood at Terry’s side during Wednesday’s press conference.

Some others were announced on Friday morning. Those include Department of Metropolitan Development Executive Director Kolbi Jackson, who formerly worked in DMD for 10 years; and Evansville Water and Sewer Utility Executive Director Vic Kelson, who was Utilities Director for Bloomington, Indiana, from 2016-2023.

Terry also announced the appointement of Building Commissioner Johnny McAlister, who has worked as a residential inspector for Evansville-Vanderburgh County the last 11 years; and Central Dispatch Director Carrie James, who joined the agency in 1993 and has been deputy director the last four years.

Other appointments still to come include city attorney, police chief, and fire chief.

Besides hearing from the public and finishing out her administrative team, Terry says she plans meetings with Vanderburgh County government officials, local state legislators, U.S. Rep. Larry Bucshon, and U.S. Sens. Mike Braun and Todd Young during her first 100 days.

Terry’s efforts to involve more citizens in government include creating the Mayor’s Interfaith Council to engage faith leaders in addressing city issues and goals, the Mayor’s Education Roundtable to elevate the importance of grade-level reading, and the Mayor’s Youth Advisory Committee.

Another early objective of her administration is assembling what she calls the Mayor’s Blue Ribbon Committee “to review licensing, code, zoning, and permitting practices to modernize and streamline the process for real estate development and small business creation,” according to literature distributed by the mayor’s office.

She also promises an independently done review of Evansville’s current fiscal status, conducted by a still-unnamed entity.

“They’ll make recommendations, and we’ll move forward accordingly,” she says.

Terry’s agenda will take her to Indianapolis, Indiana, along with her predecessor as mayor — incoming Evansville Regional Economic Partnership CEO Lloyd Winnecke — and others in an E-REP delegation.

Together with the incoming police chief, Terry says she will establish “the first phase of the Safe Evansville Plan that will take a broad holistic approach to addressing crime in the city.”

The new mayor says her approach to crime prevention will be “multifaceted.”

“Once we’ve identified and made a permanent police chief, we will begin to formulate that plan, looking at what we’ve done, what’s worked, what’s not worked, and how we can broaden our approach to addressing this issue,” Terry says. “For me, it’s always been important that we look at some of the root causes of crime change. So, we talk about removing blight in our community, housing, poverty … all those things play a factor.”

There is no mention in Terry’s “First 100 Days Roadmap” of Downtown Evansville’s long-stalled Fifth and Main housing and retail redevelopment project, where the 18-story former Old National Bank tower was imploded more than two years ago.

Asked about that prominent empty block, Terry told reporters, “I think we’re very close to making those plans and having the investors and developers all on the same page. And so hopefully an announcement will be coming soon on that.”

Terry says she’ll spend substantial time during her first 100 days in office building relationships with people and entities that are key to helping her move Evansville forward.

“Evansville is the third-largest city in this state, and there’s no reason why we shouldn’t receive some of the benefits of that from our state and and federal leaders,” she says.

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Jodi Keen
Jodi Keen
Jodi Keen is the managing editor of Evansville Living and Evansville Business magazines.

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