— Mayors and town council presidents from 18 central Indiana communities have formed a bipartisan and unified leadership group called Central Indiana’s Regional Council of Elected Officials to collaborate in addressing common issues.
“It’s an idea whose time has come,” said Andy Cook, mayor of Westfield and chairman of the peer group of bipartisan elected officials from the cities and towns that have formed the new coalition. “It is not unusual for communities to collaborate after the announcement of an idea or initiative. What we are doing here is creating a forum where collaboration and cooperation are the very first proactive steps we take instead of deciding to cooperate as the follow-up action.”
Regional Council members include the highest elected officials from communities of more than 10,000 citizens that are located within the Indianapolis metropolitan statistical area. Cities represented include Lebanon, Greenfield, Carmel, Noblesville, Westfield, Franklin, Greenwood, Beech Grove, Indianapolis, Lawrence, Martinsville, and Shelbyville. Towns participating include Fishers, Zionsville, Avon, Brownsburg, Plainfield, and Speedway.
Brownsburg Town Council President Dwayne Sawyer said, “I am pleased to work alongside other community leaders, who are all professionals in their field and bring much to the table. Taking a proactive leadership role to address issues common to our communities sends a message to the people that we are working together, pooling ideas and best practices, to find the real solutions to our mutual concerns. You can expect this council to be active and get things done.”
Cook said participating in the council allows cities and towns to approach state leaders with greater focus and depth.
“Perhaps the best way to describe it is to say we are all willing to formulate and pursue collaborative strategies so we can approach opportunities and solve problems from a position of strength and purpose,” he explained.
The Regional Council of top elected officials creates a forum that can look at common issues, shared opportunities, collective purchasing, and locating funding sources and economic development prospects. Among initiatives the group looks to foster are ones with regional implications that would improve the overall quality of life, job prospects and transportation concerns.
As an example of a common objective, Cook said it is becoming increasingly important to insure there is coordinated ease and convenience of travel as central Indiana communities grow and develop.
“I expect that will be one of our earliest and highest priorities,” he said.
The council is also working with the Indiana division of the national Urban Land Institute (ULI). That group provides leadership in the responsible use of land to create and sustain thriving communities. The Indiana component has more than 150 members working in a variety of land use disciplines.