Your Voice, Your Vote: Henry Davis, Jr. (D)
As part of our Your Voice, Your Vote coverage, we reached out to the candidates. Each was asked three questions. Read the questions and their responses below.
These responses are from Henry Davis, Jr., Democratic candidate for South Bend Mayor.
In the next 5 years, where should the city be economically, culturally and structurally?
As mayor, my priority will be to make South Bend the safe and prosperous community we all deserve. I'll work tirelessly to grow our city, fight crime, and create a City Hall that you can trust. Five years from now, that should be manifest in the following ways:
- Repopulated and revitalized Chase Tower anchoring a thriving downtown.
- Stable, affordable, and market-based utility rates and property taxes keep South Bend affordable and attract new businesses and families to the city.
- New businesses and families have broadened the tax base, generating new revenue for comprehensive upgrades to schools, parks, roads, infrastructure and other vital public services.
- Decreased unemployment rate, particularly among populations hit hardest by unemployment.
- Through creative public-private partnerships, vacant properties have been creatively restored and repopulated as family homes, community centers, small business incubators, and urban green space.
- Upgraded parks system citywide hosts cultural programming (free music, theater, readings, recreation, workshops) in a wide diversity of neighborhoods.
- Innovative and expansive use of urban green space and urban agriculture across South Bend, including community gardens and green rooftops.
- Public-private partnership to restore Chase Tower includes renovated space for theater, music, and literary events and home to vibrant arts and culture organizations.
- “South Bend Games” encourages fitness, recreation, and outdoor activity.
- Expanded K-12 arts and music education in schools and community centers, including restoration of an award-winning partnership with Indiana University professors and investment in world-class instruction, materials, and instruments.
- Restored trust and transparency at every level of City Hall through initiatives such as participatory and transparent budgeting, a civilian police review board, and inclusive city planning processes.
- Long-term Capital Improvement Plan has been developed with the input of all community stakeholders. Implementation of comprehensive and affordable infrastructure upgrades, neighborhood stabilization, and environmental management strategies has begun.
- Stormwater runoff plan (CSO LTCP) has been reviewed and renegotiated to integrate cost-effective best practices.
- City hiring and promotion practices prioritize building a diverse workforce that keeps South Bend's best and brightest in the community.
- Property values have been adjusted to reflect the real market rate of both commercial and residential properties, keeping tax rates affordable and manageable for all families.
Currently, what is the biggest problem facing the city of South Bend?
The biggest problem facing South Bend is the current administration, which has pursued wrongheaded policy priorities at taxpayer expense. The mayor has borrowed recklessly to finance half-baked projects, outsourced the most crucial decisions about our city's future to outside consultants, and raised taxes and fees on those who can least afford it. Over the past four years, the murder rate has doubled, public transit routes have shuttered, and great landmarks and family homes remain vacant. South Bend families are sinking under the weight of the sky-high property taxes and utility rates levied to plug a hold in the ballooning municipal debt. This is no way to grow a city.
Explain one new initiative you'd implement while in office.
The best way to grow South Bend is to ensure that it is a stable, beautiful, and affordable city for businesses and families. As mayor, I will launch the “South Bend Future” initiative, a transparent and participatory long-term planning process for our city. I will work with all community stakeholders to develop a long-term plan focused on upgrading our infrastructure, planning strategically for growth, and making responsible financial decisions to make South Bend affordable for all families over the long-term. This includes: comprehensive and cost-effective measures to stabilize and revitalize our neighborhoods, a thorough review of the sewer overflow plan to reduce costs through environmental management strategies, and working with county officials to bring property value assessments in line with market values.