(WEHT) – On Tuesday, Brad Byrd sat down with Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winnecke and City Councilman Ben Trockman to talk about the new term in politics.
BB: Welcome to In-Depth. Robert F. Kennedy once said, ”politics is an honorable adventure.” That was more than 50 years ago and some people today might scoff at that notion considering what’s playing out in Washington. Regarding whatever aisle you are on.
So how are things right here at home? Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winnecke is now in his third term. He is among a very few mayors who have reached that plateau. But the Republican mayor is facing a city council that is solidly controlled by Democrats. And it’s a new council with a new dynamic. Joining me tonight is Mayor Winnecke and a newcomer to politics Democrat Ben Trockman
Okay, I’m going to start with you, your story is fascinating, let the adventure begin. During your remarks, I believe it was at your swearing-in. Taking the oath. You said you like to listen. Tell me about that.
BT: It’s been quite the endeavor I’ll say, Brad. As you mentioned being a newcomer in politics. I’ve been, quite honestly. I’ll open up quite softly for the mayor here. It’s easy to get excited too about what’s happening in Evansville and southwestern Indiana. Listening to Brad to me is going around listening to department heads. Listening to the mayor’s vision. Listening to constituents, too what they are excited about in the community. It has been a lot of fun for me. Politics is new its part of the game but government and leadership is what’s it all about for me. Trying to find ways to piggyback on exciting things in this community.
BB: Mayor you’ve had several projects especially in that first term that came reality but the politics then were pretty hostile. This is an all-new council. Virtually an all-new council. How do you see this council? Especially in your third term with the challenges ahead.
MW: First I would begin with a polite push back on your set up. I don’t look at it as facing the council that …. democrats. These are nine men and women who have helped been elected to lead the city. I have every confidence that we could work so cooperatively with him. The veterans know him well. The newcomers we’ve gotten to know. Ben and I have known each other and been friends for many years. So I don’t look at it as adversarial. I look at it as a partnership in government to help Evansville and all of south Indiana grow.
BB: But you would say things have changed?
MW: Certainly, things changed. I think the council in the second term was much more constructive I’d say. But regardless of what the or sort the dynamics of the first term we were able to get a lot of things accomplished. In that first term was where we got finding approval for the Stone Family Center for Health Sciences. The funding approval for the convention hotel. We set a lot of things in motion in that first term and we did because we were able to navigate the challenges of a difficult council because we had a lot of community collaboration. People helped us get things through that council. And to the council’s benefit, they overcame a lot of disdain and they eventually put their individual opinion aside or the greater good.
BB: You have a vision but is there something specifically you would like to see while you are serving on the third floor.
BT: One interesting, I’ll piggyback a question of yours. I’ll piggyback on yours something that the mayor said is…I have for the past few years at my career at Old National learned what it means to be collaborative. To bring business to the private sector and the business sector together to accomplish projects. When you think about Republican versus Democratic or when you think about private versus public. Its been interesting to me as a young professional how you to try to get things done on a community level you overcome those things. To work with the mayor whether you’re a Democratic or a Republican or whether you’re new or been around for a while its all about collaboration and doing things together. Sure we disagree on things and I’m sure that we will at some time but the collaborative effort is what brings us up to date.
BB: Continuing this massive underground project affecting water and sewer usage in the city. Roberts Park, I just can’t quite grab that yet, do you think that’s going to be possible?
MW: Yeah. I think it will. What we’ve tried to do make an investment as strategic as possible. We haven’t filled as much we would pursue with Roberts park in the most immediate time frame possible. The financial resources have not been accessible. We still have a plan its till out plan to keep that. An active green space. We love the idea of connected green space from Morgan Avenue to the north to Lincoln Avenue to the south. Think about from McDonald’s golf course through the State hospital. We have no design but to keep that active green space.
BB: What would you say to each other, let’s talk to each other for a minute. were running out of time but you as a Democrat and I know its politics and it’s a different dynamic but pressure on you Ben. Tough decisions that proposal that Mayor Winnecke put on the table.
BT: The interesting thought is I am representing the first ward that is heavily Republican and ran a Republican ward and I answer to all the folks in the first wards and throughout the community. I think we will have a very collaborative, not challenging but thoughtful relationship. I look forward to the challenge of figuring out what’s best for our community and having that debate.
BB: Smooth sailing finally for you mayor?
MW: We had some not so smooth times in the first term but it wasn’t all that way. if you know me for more than two minutes imma glass half full kinda guy. A relationship with council it’s like a relationship with community development partners, economic development partners, or non-profit organizations or the faith community all with whom we work. It’s more relationships. I have no reason to doubt. We don’t like dysfunction at the national level but we’ve grown to anticipate that I don’t think people expect that at the local level. I’m really confident that we’ll have a really constructive collaborative relationship.
BB: Mayor Winnecke thanks for joining us. Councilman Trockman thank you for joining us tonight. Well be talking to you, we can get together like this. Say a year from now see how things are playing out. We appreciate you being here tonight.
BT: Thanks, man.
BB: Alright. You’re Eyewitness News at nine and we’ll be right back.
(This story was originally published on January 22, 2020)