In 2015, Evansville residents took to the polls in November to decide on who would be mayor of the city for the next four years. Up against competition from Democrat Gail Riecken and Independent Steve Wozniak, incumbent mayor Lloyd Winnecke would win his re-election bid with more than 60 percent of the vote, landing his second term in the top city seat. Evansville City View sat down with the mayor and asked him about plans for his second term, what he loves most about the city, and more.
City View: What are you most excited about in your second term?
Lloyd Winnecke: Looking out into our second term, I look forward to the big, well-publicized projects being completed. Weather permitting, construction on our convention hotel will be done late this year. Across Sixth Street from the hotel will be the new Indiana University Medical School, arguably the most transformative project in our community since the formation of the University of Southern Indiana 50 years ago. It’s slated to open for classes in January of 2018.
Also this year, we anticipate work beginning on a new land-based casino at Tropicana Evansville. This project is important for many reasons, not the least of which is that Tropicana will be the first Indiana casino to take advantage of the new state law allowing land-based casino activity. This will provide Tropicana with an important competitive advantage.
We’ll also see the makeover of North Main Street in our second term. This exciting project represents not only an important investment in the Jacobsville neighborhood, but is a great example of how the City of Evansville partners with its neighborhood associations. When complete, each of these projects will contribute to the vitality of our city.
Our second term also will see great work being done on our Regional Cities Initiative. Greg Wathen, Sabrina Newton, Audrie Burkett, and others with the Economic Development Coalition of Southwest Indiana have done a masterful job of overseeing this effort. The $42 million in state money that is associated with our Regional City recognition will leverage other public and private investment for projects in the City of Evansville as well as in Posey, Gibson, and Warrick counties. The idea is that the dynamic projects in each community will help to transform our region into an even more attractive destination for young people, thus dramatically improving the quality of our workforce.
Equally important in our second term, will be our work to eliminate blight. We have identified 1,800 blighted residential properties in the city. Kelley Coures and Carolyn Rusk in the Department of Metropolitan Development have crafted a bold plan to help our community turn the tide against blight. By partnering with the City Council, we hope to expand the role of the Brownfield Board to make it a larger, more efficient land bank operation. This will be a multi-year effort that will, over time, drastically improve the quality of housing in the city, while at the same time making our neighborhoods safer.
CV: What have you enjoyed most about being mayor?
LW: The thing I enjoy most about being mayor is knowing I have a role in solving problems. Some are large, community-wide issues while others are more neighborhood focused. Sitting down with fellow residents to figure how best to proceed on a given task or issue is immensely rewarding. I also take great pleasure in visiting our schools. Students offer great perspective and ask questions that make me, in one minute, laugh out loud and in the next, force me to search deep for an acceptable answer.
CV: What is the best thing about Evansville?
LW: I believe the best thing about Evansville is its citizens. People have offered to help since before I took office and they haven’t stopped. Residents have a deep love and affection for Evansville, and they want to see it grow. I love it when people offer us new ideas, and it seems as though everyone will serve on a board or committee if asked. It’s reassuring to know that so many people care so deeply about our city.
For more information about the City of Evansville, visit evansvillegov.org.