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Ask The Mayor: Kokomo's Greg Goodnight On Economy, Douglas School

Kokomo Mayor Greg Goodnight

Kokomo Mayor Greg Goodnight at French Lick Tuesday during the annual AIM conference. (Joe Hren, WFIU/WTIU News)

Ivy Tech Kokomo and IU Kokomo are growing, the city is looking into acquiring the former Douglas School for city use, and more on the skirmish with the republican mayoral candidate.

On this week’s installment of Ask The Mayor, Kokomo Mayor Greg Goodnight addresses these issues and more. Listen to the full conversation with Indiana Newsdesk anchor Joe Hren by clicking on the play button above, or read some of the questions and answers below. A portion of this segment airs 6:45 and 8:45 a.m. Wednesday on WFIU.

This conversation has been edited for clarity and conciseness.

Hren: Tell us a little bit about the annual AIM conference you're at here at French Lick and your role?

Goodnight: I serve on the executive board as a former president, so this will be my last AIM conference, but I'm still involved in our state organization and that's Accelerating Indiana Municipalities.

Hren: This is an area that has really changed over the years. How did they make it work and become a destination here?

Goodnight: They've done it here, obviously having a casino helps. But they made good use of the investment. West Baden, even Paoli is a nice cute, quaint city within Orange County, Orleans - so they have a nice group of small cities here. They are clean, vibrant... so having four smaller communities here, Orange County does a good job of making use of their limited tax dollars.

Hren: What's the theme or what are you hearing at the conference this year?

Goodnight: This year there's been a lot of talk, they already know there's going to be a huge turnover in mayors this year. A record number have chosen not to run, myself being one of them. So they're looking at a minimum of 44 percent new mayors, and that's if every incumbent wins and the likelyhood of that happening is probably rare, so you can have 50 percent or more new mayors. 

Hren: We usually talk about new construction and developments going in here, but the city is also doing preservation.

Goodnight: Yes, first with the 1875 house on Cortland Avenue, we are extending the Cloverleaf Trail. Along that area, there was a dilapidated home and we decided you just can't replace those, so we put a new roof on that and put the bid out for a brick tuck pointing. We don't have a use for it, we'll probably bid it out for sale and let somebody come in and finish the interior and have a historic building on the west side. 

Douglas School is the former African-American school on the near east-side. It probably last had classes in the 1960's and since then has had private ownership, had some nonprofit's, I think we're going to get it through the last commissioner's sale and we'll have possession of it in the next weeks. We're going to secure the building, clean it up. I think there's some opportunities to make it valuable Thankfully, some of the historic features are still intact on the inside.

I think we're looking at making it somehow community asset. There are some people that showed some interest, but first thing is we have to preserve it.

Hren: I have to ask about the skirmish that's in the papers with the republican mayoral candidate Tyler Moore and your disagreement with police and fire official hours worked and you had no problem firing back even though you are not running for reelection.

Goodnight: And they were wrong. We can all misspeak, I've been forgiving of that because people have been forgiving to me. What bothered me was part of their press release, there was an intentional misrepresentation of the facts and that's different. We have the data, he showed no data. We have payroll records. These all have to go through the State Board of Accounts. 

If you just want to hire your friends and family as police officers and firefighters and play the political patronage, you can do that, but don't misrepresent our current staffing numbers to validate your decisions.

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