As part of the Chamber’s commitment to educating our membership, our Advocacy Committee compiled a list of questions for both candidates in Terre Haute’s Democratic Mayoral Primary race. These questions are a little different than those typically asked at other community forums, as they focus specifically on issues that impact the business community. Thank you to the candidates, Pat Goodwin and Brandon Sakbun for taking the time to respond to our questions. Links to their responses can be found below. The Chamber will be hosting an in-person debate for Mayoral candidates in the fall.
Please don’t forget to vote on May 2nd. Early voting is now available in Vigo County, more information can be found at www.everyvotevigocounty.com.
My name is Brandon Sakbun. I am a graduate of the Kelley School of Business and a former Army Ranger. My background in finance, public sector budgeting, policy work, strategic management, and leadership make me an ideal candidate for Mayor of Terre Haute. Teamwork is the lifeblood of successful government. The position of Mayor is similar to a point guard on the basketball court, a floor general. Passing the rock and working with other players to get the ball through the hoop. I look forward to further discussions on how I can partner with your organization and continue to build off the Chamber of Commerce’s successes.
What do you consider Terre Haute’s most underutilized asset to be?
While some might be quick to say the River, the most underutilized talent in Terre Haute is its human capital. We have a large retired community, multiple universities, a population of 57K, and a growing list of job opportunities. A campaign focused on leveraging our human capital to fill current employment needs would help grow the tax base, increase the median income, and create community engagement.
What are your thoughts on the See You in Terre Haute Community Plan? As Mayor, how would you continue this community planning effort?
The purpose of the plan and metrics for success are phenomenal. Halting the population decline and reversing the downward trend for per capita income should be our top priority for strategic growth. One concern is that this plan focuses on a 5-year time horizon. I would prefer a 20-year comprehensive strategic plan with an annual review and overall update every 5 years. I enjoyed the annual review of the plan this past winter. But personally, as a young professional, am concerned with the talent and retention section. Remote work continues to grow and remote work facilities have been shown to benefit Class Two cities. Indiana Code 2012, Title 36 Article 4 states that in cities with a population size of 35,000 to 599,999 are defined as class two cities. Job diversification and opportunities for college internships that lead to employment would both benefit our younger workforce. I would like to attack this problem not just as Mayor but even now as a community advocate. While people aged 18-25 make up 15% of the population, retention will help our city in the short and long term.
Great improvements have been made to Downtown Terre Haute in recent years. How would you continue to support this work? What further developments would you support?
Public-private partnerships are key to the successful development of municipalities. In the downtown area, I’d like to support the development of a remote telework facility, a college street feel on Wabash, and local stores for basic needs like small grocery stores and a pharmacy. Surrounding neighborhoods should have easy walkable and bikeable access to downtown.
What do you see as the community’s needs in terms of housing? And what is your plan to accomplish this goal, including potential funding sources?
There are two cities to model a blight housing and home renovation plan; South Bend and Sullivan. Funding sources include HUD’s Community Development Block Grant program, the Neighborhood Stabilization Program, and the state’s Blight Elimination Program. We can create a “Vacant to Value Matching Repair Grant program”, which offers owners of vacant and abandoned properties a $10,000 grant if they match at least 20 percent of the grant, address all code violations, and agree to live in the house for at least 3 years. We need to target underprivileged neighborhoods and the middle class. This will help restore the lifeblood of our city’s local economy.
What is your infrastructure improvement plan? And how will you pay for it?
The focus on infrastructure should be “How do we get the biggest bang for our buck?” Two for one or three-for-one projects utilizing matching grants can be used to fund short-term infrastructure projects. Senator Young and other Republicans joined President Joe Biden in signing the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill in 2021. Competing for these funds will be a priority, while my administration looks to utilize incoming tax revenue to systematically invest in our infrastructure for the long-term success of Terre Haute.
What value do you place on developing relationships with entities like the Chamber, as well as County and State officials? How would you envision a working
I place immense value in developing working professional relationships with organizations like yours as well as county and state officials. As I have stated numerous times on the campaign trail, teamwork is a necessity for our elected officials. Political partisan divide must be left at the door and genuine conversations to continue moving Terre Haute forward will happen with my administration. I have contacted officials at all levels of government and private sector leaders to show my clear commitment to working as a team for the people of Terre Haute. My experiences negotiating with multiple government agencies, other nations, and every military branch make me the ideal candidate when it comes to teamwork.