Seymour mayor to seek third term

Seymour Mayor Craig Luedeman has announced he will seek re-election in 2015 with plans to focus on making the city a better place to live.

The official filing period for the May primary runs from Jan. 7 to noon Feb. 6. So far, no one else has come forward publicly as a mayoral candidate, said Jeanette Hackman, Jackson County Democratic Party chairwoman, and Melissa Zabel Acton, Republican Party chairwoman.

“We’re still in the talking stage to see if anyone is interested,” Hackman said.

During his seven years in office, the 38-year-old Republican said his priorities have been economic development and attracting high-paying jobs to Seymour. But that work has delayed quality-of-place issues and initiatives he wants the chance to address.

“We’ve got some unfinished projects that I want to get completed,” he said. “There’s a lot of momentum in the city right now, and I want to make sure we get (the projects) done, so we can continue to grow the way we are growing.”

One of those projects is revitalizing the downtown, which he has worked on some with the help of Seymour Main Street and the Greater Seymour Chamber of Commerce.

“I still think we are on the cusp of getting a lot done,” he said. “We are working night and day and are really close to making some big

announcements for the downtown.”

Luedeman said the addition of new businesses, including Bullwinkle’s family restaurant, Java Joint coffee shop, Chillicen ice cream shop and Bite the Bullet gun shop, and the new pocket park have sparked greater interest and activity downtown.

Another restaurant, Smalltown Italian, is scheduled to open on Second Street after the first of the year.

“It’s those kind of shops we need,” he said. “We don’t need the big box stores. So many people say they want a Target, but our population isn’t big enough to support a Target. We have to find a way to get other niche businesses in town.”

Although the city can find ways to help improve downtown, ultimately it’s up to the business and property owners to invest the time and money into making their buildings look good, he said.

Besides the downtown, he said there are sewer work and road maintenance projects he wants to complete, such as the sewer expansion on the city’s southeast side and the widening and reinforcing of West Second Street. He’d also like to get the ball rolling on a southside expansion of Burkart Boulevard that would connect to Freeman Field Industrial Park, he said.

“We can’t bite it off all at once,” he said. “We have to prioritize.”

He said creating walking and bike paths and adding to and improving the city’s parks also are high on his list of goals if re-elected.

“We’ve got a new trails program that we are pushing now, and a lot of things are being discussed on what we can do to make our parks better,” he said. “You’re going to see a lot more quality of place initiatives.”

Luedeman said he feels his greatest accomplishments while serving as mayor have been strengthening the local economy and bringing people and groups together to “make things happen in the community.”

“Going into the recession as mayor and being able to respond to that with the jobs we have, we made economic development a focus; and we are prospering now because of that,” he said.

The city has landed industrial companies, including Trellis Earth and Pet Supplies Plus, and has seen growth of existing factories, including Cummins, Aisin, Seymour Tubing, O&K Steel, Valeo Lighting Systems and Kremers Urban Pharmaceuticals.

But those expansions and new businesses have led to growing pains that Seymour will continue to see during the next four years, Luedeman added.

“Because of all the new jobs, we are going to need more housing and other amenities including retail,” he said. “So that will have to be a big push.”

He said he is excited to see Seymour’s continued focus on education and expanding offerings from early-childhood to postsecondary and workforce training.

“We’re starting to see the fruits of our labor and are building on the future,” he said.

Luedeman said he doesn’t expect to run unopposed and knows some people don’t want to see him re-elected.

“As mayor you’re going to make people mad no matter what you do or don’t do,” he said. “I’m going to run on my record, and I feel like we’ve done a good job of pushing Seymour forward; and we’re going to continue doing that.”

Craig Luedeman

Who: Craig Luedeman

Party: Republican

Office: Mayor of Seymour

Age: 38

Hometown: Born and raised in Seymour

Political record: Served a full term as Jackson Township assessor, elected mayor in November 2007. He was the first Republican to be elected mayor since 1976. Was re-elected to his second term in November 2011.

Education: Graduate of Immanuel Lutheran School and Seymour High School. Attended Marian College and earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration. He also attended H&R Block Tax School, Indiana Real Estate School, and Level I and II Indiana Assessor/Appraiser Training.

Community involvement: Active member of Immanuel Lutheran Church, serving as a member of the Board of Elders, and has been a Seymour Chamber member, United Way government representative and a member of Indiana Assessors Association. He is a 2006 graduate of Leadership Jackson County.

Family: Wife, Spring; daughter, Katie.

Author photo
January Rutherford is a reporter for The (Seymour) Tribune. She can be reached at jrutherford@tribtown.com or 812-523-7069.