IN Focus: New mayors, councilors sworn in across state of Indiana

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KOKOMO, Ind. — It’s a new year with new faces around Kokomo’s city hall.

The new mayor, police, and fire chief have all been sworn in and they all have big plans for the city.

Mayor Tyler Moore says Kokomo is continuing to thrive, and he wants to hit the ground running.

“The biggest issues have been public safety and the staffing levels of both the police and fire,” Mayor Tyler Moore said.

“The most difficult aspect of that is having to make sure we have enough patrol officers on the street to answer everyone’s call for service when needed on all 3 shifts 24 hours a day 7 days a week,” Kokomo Police Chief Doug Stout said.

Kokomo’s new Police Chief Doug Stout started with the department 20 years ago and he has served as a captain of the uniform patrol division. He says in the past there have been a lot of cuts and the department has tried to adjust.

“We, of course, have had an increase in certain amounts of crimes over the years and other times it goes back down,” Chief Stout said.

Stout wants to focus on recruiting more officers and so does the new fire chief.

“More often than not we are short staffed on our fires… so our goal now is how to get back to that standard,” Kokomo Fire Chief Chris Frazier said.

It won’t be an easy task.

“Currently in Indiana there is a very active recruitment of firefighters and police officers among the communities are growing. Especially in Hamilton County and the Indianapolis area, so we are now competing with those areas for the same people looking to come into this profession,” Chief Frazier said.

Mayor Moore is also continuing efforts to expand.

The city currently has plans in place for a new convention center and parking garage downtown.

Across Indiana, fifty new mayors were sworn into office last week.

Republicans won a record 70 mayoral races last November, while Democrats made some in-roads in suburban areas like Zionsville typically dominated by Republicans.

Zionsville’s new mayor, Emily Styron, was also sworn into office on Wednesday, while Indianapolis saw its youngest-ever council take office for the new year.

Of all the members who were sworn in, eight of them are under the age of 38. In fact, this youth movement now means one third of the council are millennials.

“Which means as a city we recognize that young leaders have a powerful voice,” said councilor Blake Johnson.

Veteran council members say this change will bring new life to the group, while the younger council members say it’s their opportunity to change the course of Indy for the next 40 years, not just the next four.

“This young, exciting group of councilors joining us will help us move the needle, help us think outside the box,” said council majority leader Maggie Lewis.

“We are the next step of leadership. We are the next generation coming up,” said council minority leader Brian Mowery.

When Mowery and Johnson first joined the council, they were the youngest members at the time. Now they are helping to lead this new charge.

“It’s so fulfilling to see so many young people getting involved,” Mowery said.

This influx begs the question, what do millennials think? What do they care about?

“I don’t think we are monolithic, but I do know it’s environmental sustainability, it’s equity of opportunity and outcomes, it’s social justice,” Johnson said.

The younger influx comes from both sides of the aisle. Mowery saying 60% of the Republicans on the council are now 30 or under.

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