Terre Haute’s mayoral candidates face off in debate on the ISU campus.
On Oct. 15, the candidates running for mayor all participated in another debate.
This time, the community was asking the questions.
People of Terre Haute, old and young, traveling students and natives, gathered to hear how each of the canidates running would best benefit them.
The debate consisted of three candidates: Karrum Nassar for the Democratic party, Pat Goodwin as an independent, and Mayor Duke Bennett running again for the Republican party.
The first part of the debate was concerned with why each of them decided to run for mayor.
Duke Bennett said, “It’s all about moving the community forward in a positive way we’ve been doing that for several years now and we’ve done a variety of things that put us in a much better position than we have been in the past. We’ve had more momentum now than we have in many many years.”
The Independent, Pat Goodwin had replied, “Terre Haute has all the ingredients for greatness. We’ve got a great location for economic development, four institutions for higher learning, we've got a great waterfront, we have a lot of things going for us. We have tremendous potential and I want to see us reach that potential.”
Finally, the Democratic candidate, Karrum Nassar, answered, “I have two children that are going to attend Indiana State university that when they graduate, they feel like they won't’ have any opportunities here. I'm sure that there are other people that attend the university that feel the same way. We can’t keep kicking the can down the road and blaming problems on other people. I think we just need to have a different approach.”
They were then asked to explain the importance of Indiana State University and how they see the city government and ISU working together. Goodwin focused on the economic value of ISU to Terre Haute.
“ISU is one of our biggest employers and could potentially be our biggest economic drivers. Every year we have thousands of students coming out of ISU with degrees and we’d like to see more of them stay here, so we need to be concentrating on more ideas that can help make that happen,” Goodwin said, “I think about the things that can make it easier for students to enjoy their time while they're here. Nassar decided to answer with a different perspective on how to help ISU students within the Terre Haute environment. He said, “I think what is important is to create an opportunity for students once they graduate to be able to stay here if they do desire to do so. We need to make it so it's inviting to anyone of all ages, of all races and all opportunities.”
Mayor Bennett focused on the economic development of Terre Haute and how that would have an impact on students staying here after graduation.
“It’s such a huge economic engine for our community. It’s a large employer for when students come to town, the money they spend has a huge impact from an economic development perspective,” Bennett said, “We just gotta continue to get opportunities for those who may want to stay here and a lot of that has to do with the paying kind of jobs.
A ISU student later asked them about how they plan to help ISU Students with receiving internships within Terre Haute, as they are lacking within the community.
Goodwin spoke on what he would do to help ISU students be successful. “You’ve got smart people at the schools who need summer work, it's a fantastic value for the Terre Haute government. I definitely will be encouraging my department heads to build budgets around the idea of hiring summer interns and trying to see what we can do to help city government by bringing in all this knowledge from the colleges and universities in Terre Haute”, said Goodwin. Nassar mentions the benefits of a matching liaison within the community to help students identify opportunities within the community after graduation. “I think we’re missing a big opportunity by not taking advantage of our local talent here at the universities. With regards to possibly helping out the private sector, I think we should have a community liaison that helps with matching people here we need to make sure they understand that there's opportunities for them here, but we can't do that unless we have a matching program to do so,” said Nassar. Mayor Bennett spoke on the challenges of supplying internships for students looking for internships within the Terre Haute area. “Some of our departments I can’t bring interns in because of union contracts and their very specific about bringing in free labor and so some of these contracts have been in place for 30 years, it’s just something we have to deal with. I've personally had interns in my office through Saint Mary’s, ISU, and Ivy Tech since I've been mayor, so it just depends if we have enough projects,” said Bennett.