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Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Ready on Day One

As she prepares to lead Evansville, Stephanie Terry has learned alongside peers

Editor’s note: This story has been updated with news of Mayor-Elect Stephanie Terry’s administration appointments.

As she prepares for her history-making inauguration as Evansville’s 37th mayor, Stephanie Terry had an opportunity to learn from and share ideas with colleagues from across the U.S.

Terry was one of 29 newly elected mayors from 21 states to take part in the City Leadership Initiative’s Program for New Mayors: First 100 Days, presented by the Bloomberg Center for Cities and Harvard University.

She says the two-day seminar in Cambridge, Massachusetts, provided inspiring words, as well as “some excellent tools and resources for us.” Participation in the seminar didn’t end there — Terry, as well as staff in her office, will have ongoing virtual learning opportunities.

Terry, a Democrat who is set to become Evansville’s first woman mayor as well as the city’s first Black mayor, says one key takeaway from the in-person part of the program is that mayors across the country are facing many of the same challenges, to varying degrees.

She says she also was reminded “how valuable and how important it is to build a strong team and to be intentional about that. Everybody handles (personnel selections) differently, and sometimes politics gets in the way of the process. But we want to be thoughtful about who we put in positions.”

Terry is working on filling key roles in her administration, and as her swearing-in nears, she has already announced some of those decisions.

Lindsay Locasto will be Terry’s deputy mayor. The Newburgh, Indiana, native most recently has held leadership positions in Henderson, Kentucky, as Chamber of Commerce president and executive director of the Downtown Henderson Partnership. She’s also a co-founder of 7 Sisters, a group of women who each lost a sibling to opioid-related causes. Evansville Living interviewed Locasto in October 2023 before she ran the TCS New York City Marathon in her brother’s memory.

Robert Gunther, hired as Evansville city controller, has been the City of Henderson’s finance director since 2004. He’s also a former finance director for West Memphis, Arkansas, and field auditor for the Arkansas Division of Legislative Audit.

Joe Atkinson, who’s spent the last 16 years in various roles at the University of Evansville, is Terry’s director of communications. Atkinson was UE’s director of News Services and director of Digital Media, and most recently served as an assistant professor of communication. He’s also a documentary filmmaker. Evansville Living profiled Atkinson in 2016 about “From the Ashes,” his film telling the stories of the 1977 UE basketball season leading up to the team’s fatal plane crash that December and its aftermath.

Terry’s executive assistant will be Amanda Joest, who has 11 years of experience as an executive assistant and a total of 19 years in various positions across the public and private sectors.

Photo provided by Stephanie Terry for Evansville Mayor. Paul Green, Vivian Holiday, Missy Mosby, Laura Brown Windhorst, Zac Heronemus, then-Mayor Elect Stephanie Terry, Angela Koehler Lindsey, and Mary Allen attend AIM Indiana training for newly elected officials in December 2023.

Terry says several holdovers from outgoing 12-year Republican Mayor Lloyd Winnecke’s administration will remain, such as Department of Parks and Recreation Executive Director Danielle Crook, Department of Transportation Executive Director Todd Robertson, and Emergency Management Agency Director Cliff Weaver.

Other appointments won’t be made until after Terry’s swearing-in at noon on New Year’s Day at her alma mater, Benjamin Bosse High School.

She says current occupants of various city government positions were given opportunities to reapply for those jobs, and some officials could remain who have served under Winnecke.

Terry says some early focus of her administration will involve issues she discussed at Harvard with other incoming mayors. Public safety is one — Terry says she heard from Tampa, Florida, Mayor Jane Castor on that subject. Before being elected mayor of Tampa, Castor was a police officer and Tampa’s first woman police chief.

Other priorities, Terry says, are to address the structure of city government and seek greater efficiencies. She says she wants to quickly fulfill a campaign pledge to ask a blue-ribbon panel to review city rules that impact neighborhood development, business development, and housing.

“We want to look at current codes and cut some of the red tape that is hindering progress in those areas,” Terry says.

When You Go

The swearing-in of new Mayor Stephanie Terry at noon Jan. 1 at Benjamin Bosse High School, 1300 Washington Ave., is open to the public.

Other city officials will also be sworn into their four-year terms, including City Clerk Laura Windhorst and City Council members Ben Trockman (1st Ward), Missy Mosby (2nd Ward), Zac Heronemus (3rd Ward), Alex Burton (4th Ward), Angela Koehler Lindsey (5th Ward), Jim Brinkmeyer (6th Ward), and Mary Allen, Paul Green, and Courtney Johnson (At-Large).

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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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