3 candidates vie to be New Albany's next mayor

3 candidates vie to be New Albany's next mayor
Jeff Gahan (Source: Todd Hoyer, WAVE 3 News)
Jeff Gahan (Source: Todd Hoyer, WAVE 3 News)
Kevin Zurschmiede (Source: Todd Hoyer, WAVE 3 News)
Kevin Zurschmiede (Source: Todd Hoyer, WAVE 3 News)
Roger Baylor (Source: Todd Hoyer, WAVE 3 News)
Roger Baylor (Source: Todd Hoyer, WAVE 3 News)

NEW ALBANY, IN (WAVE) - On Tuesday New Albany voters will decide who should lead the city. There will be three names to chose from - the incumbent, a real estate developer or a businessman.

Incumbent Mayor Jeff Gahan, a Democrat, says he's not finished yet and is hopeful to be reelected to his second term.

"The last four years, the budget has been balanced," Gahan said. "We've even paid off a lot of debt, so I'm excited about the financial prospects of the city."

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Gahan says in addition his administration has tackled blighted areas of the city by tearing down abandoned homes and adding new community spaces, such as River Run Water Park. According to Gahan his experience sets him apart and he's proud of the team around him.

"I think we are all focused on making New Albany a great place to live and have a lot of support out of city council, varies boards, even the business sector. A lot of people support what we are doing," Gahan said.

City councilman and real estate developer, Kevin Zurschmiede, a Republican, questions some of those decisions, especially when it comes to finances.

"He's increased the budget from $14 million to $26 million over four years, so it is easy to balance the budget when you increase it by over 50%," Zurschmiede said.

Public safety, Zurschmiede says, is number one. He wants a pro-active police force, along with constant and consistent code enforcement. Zurschmiede also wants to maintain streets and sidewalks and do what's best for the entire city.

"I'm very passionate about cleaning up our city and making it a safe and enjoyable place for people to live," Zurschmiede.

Independent and business owner Roger Baylor says his focus in on three things.

"Transparency is open government, infrastructure is these streets and sidewalks that need to work every single day, not every now and then, and empowerment would be economic development that we need to abandon this attract and retain economic development model of throwing subsidies and incentives at other people and we need to concentrate on people we have here," Baylor said.

Baylor says he will also continue to push for two way streets as a way to enhance safety and neighborhood quality of life. Baylor also questions some of Gahan's financial decisions, such as the use of TIF dollars for the new water park.

"I think the current administration believes it has acted in a way for the future, but it in fact has compromised the future by its expenditures," Baylor said.

"TIF is not for those types of projects, it's for infrastructure, to create infrastructure that would incentivize businesses to locate here," Zurschmiede.

Gahan disagrees and says he is using TIF just as it is intended.

"Infrastructure improvements, improving the environment for business and residents and that's what we are doing with it and I'm really proud," Gahan said.

New Albany residents can vote early on Saturday and Monday. Tuesday polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.

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