The two men vying for the position of Lawrence mayor have one commonality: they are both passionate about the northeast Indianapolis suburb. But, that’s where it ends as both candidates have very different ideas of how to move the City of Lawrence forward.
For Republican Mayor Paul Ricketts, it’s been a battle of rumors and public perception.
The former Lawrence Township Assessor defeated Democrat Deborah Cantwell in 2007.
Since then, Ricketts’ health has become a big question on the minds of many Lawrence residents.
“In spite of the rumors of my demise,” he says. “I don’t have cancer.”
Ricketts does admit to battling a foot ulcer and is continuing his recovery from open-heart surgery back in March.
“I just want to continue to move Lawrence forward,” Ricketts says.
Democrat Dean Jessup doesn’t think Lawrence has moved very far in the four years since Ricketts took office. Jessup owns Civil Investigative Services and says he and his wife chose Lawrence as their home more than 25 years ago because it “wasn’t Indy.”
“I think we can be so much more,” he says. “We’ve been waiting for something great to happen.”
On economic development, the pair each have a unique perspective on how Lawrence can expand on what it already has.
Ricketts is touting recent announcements on job creation, including a new Indiana National Guard Armory and a new complex on the Fort Harrison campus.
At the same time, Ricketts is battling criticism over the recent announcement of the Indiana Soccer Association’s plan to move its headquarters from Lawrence to Westfield.
Jessup, on the other hand, says Lawrence can make in-roads by embracing the arts as a means of enticing business. “We’ve developed a brand that is not as pleasant as we’d like it. We’re perceived as the folks that just fight all the time.”
Jessup compares Lawrence to Aurora, Colorado, a suburb of Denver.
He says that town started bringing in more arts and culture as a means of survival.
“My fear is unchanged that we will be swallowed by Indianapolis,” he says.
Another concern both men share is public safety. Both want to put more officers on the street, but Jessup is eyeing a change in leadership at the top of the Lawrence Police Department.
“We need our own narcotics unit,” Jessup says. “We can work better with the Indianapolis Metro Police Department’s Drug Task Force that way.”
Ricketts says, if re-elected, he will “simply work harder to get more officers on the streets.” Ricketts says both Richmond and Columbus are smaller cities than Lawrence, but have more officers.
In a sort-of twist, Jessup got the endorsement of the man who challenged Ricketts in the May primary.
John Solenberg gave the nod to Jessup back in July, touting Jessup’s track record serving on the Lawrence Fire Merit Commission and the Lawrence Community Development Commission.