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Mayors Launch Initiative To Increase Local Control

Mayors around Indiana say legislators need to trust them more when it comes to how they should handle local issues.

Whiting Mayor Joe Stahura

Photo: Brandon Smith/IPBS

Whiting Mayor Joe Stahura (left) and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg announce the "Trust Local" campaign.

Hoosier mayors are calling on state government and the General Assembly to return more control to local government, giving them the flexibility and resources to address concerns in cities and towns across the state. The Indiana Conference of Mayors’ is calling the push the “Trust Local” campaign.

Whiting Mayor Joe Stahura, president of the state conference of mayors, says there has been a disturbing trend emerging in the last few years. More and more decisions he says belong on the local level are being taken over by the legislature.

“We don’t want them fighting home front battles in the Statehouse,” Stahura says. “Let us handle the local stuff at home.  Zoning issues, water rights, there’s thousands of financial flexibility, those issues we can handle. We don’t need the help.”

The mayoral coalition is pushing three initiatives in the upcoming legislative session: allocating more gas tax revenue to fund road and street improvements, making pseudoephedrine a prescription drug to help curb the state’s methamphetamine problem and giving local governments more power to require banks to maintain foreclosed properties.

Terre Haute mayor Duke Bennett says coalition mayors want to partner with the legislature and be trusted to make more decisions themselves.

“Trust us locally that we really know what’s going on in the trenches, and we’d like to have a voice at the table to get this passed through the legislature in this session,” he says.

Stahura says the bipartisan effort is not meant to pit state and local government against each other.

Brandon Smith, IPBS

Brandon Smith, IPBS has previously worked as a reporter and anchor for KBIA Radio in Columbia, MO, and at WSPY Radio in Plano, IL as a show host, reporter, producer and anchor. Brandon graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Bachelor of Journalism in 2010, with minors in political science and history. He was born and raised in Chicago.

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