MARION COUNTY, Ind. — With multiple hotly contested mayoral races happening across central Indiana, one is making history.
Democrat Deb Whitfield will become the first Black mayor in Marion County history. She beat Deputy Mayor and former Lawrence Police Chief Dave Hofmann to become the next mayor of Lawrence.
Whitfield said it herself, she is not a politician. Whitfield is a respiratory therapist by trade and has spent more than 40 years in healthcare. More recently, she’s taken on a new role.
“At community health network I was there first Diversity Equity and Inclusion Director,” Whitfield said.
Whitefield said that posiiton has given her the leadership skills to be Lawrence’s next mayor. She plans to focus on several areas.
”Making sure that our public safety has the resources and tools that they need,” Whitfield said. “I talk about uniting the neighborhood, that’s very important to me. I want everyone to feel that they belong in Lawrence. They live, they work, they play here.”
As the first Black mayor in both Lawrence and Marion County, Whitfield knows she bears a heavy responsibility.
”To show Black and Brown children, if you have a goal, if you have a plan, you can achieve,” she said. “If you see it, you believe it, you can achieve it.”
Whitfield said she looked up to other Black mayors during her campaign and is also following in her father’s footsteps. He was the first Black constable in their Connecticut hometown.
Whitfield has lived in Lawrence since 1995, though. She said her neighbors and friends have become her new family here.
”Lawrence became our home,” Whitfield said. “Our neighbors and our school became our family.”
Whitfield said Lawrence already has plenty of momentum, and she’s looking to build on it.
”I want to be that salesperson,” Whitfield said. “I want to build upon what we have, I want to be able to talk and sell Lawrence.”
Indiana Democratic Party Chairman Mike Schmuhl said Whitfield ran an inclusive campaign focused on the future of Lawrence.
Whitfield will succeed Republican Mayor Steve Collier, who opted not to run for a third term.
With 96% of Marion County’s vote centers reporting, Whitfield had about 53% of the vote.
“This has been an awesome opportunity,” Whitfield said. “I receive it humbly. I give thanks to God and every one of you out there.”
Following her win, the Indiana Democratic Party released a statement:
“In this election, Lawrence voted for Deb Whitfield and a brighter future for families and workers across the city.”Indiana Democratic Party