Candidate Q&A: West Lafayette City Council District 5
A candidate Q&A with Democratic incumbent Kathy Parker and Republican James Waters, seeking the District 5 seat on the West Lafayette City Council.
Democratic incumbent Kathy Parker and Republican James Waters are seeking a District 5 seat on the West Lafayette City Council in the Nov. 7 election.
Parker is seeking a second term in a district that covers much of the northeast portion of West Lafayette.
Early voting started Tuesday, Oct. 24.
Here, the candidates discuss their approach to the four-year position.
For more: Find bios of each candidate, along with a city council district map and information about where and when to vote at the end of this article.
Why are you running?
Kathy Parker: I’m running for re-election first and foremost because I care about the people that live in my community. I think I’m pretty good at listening to people’s concerns and working collaboratively to solve problems. I’ve come to realize that my favorite leaders always put the concerns of others first, and that’s what I try to do, as well.
James S. Waters: I am running for I feel the council can appreciate my many years of experience in life. Military, union leader, an acting supervisor for the Lafayette Postal Service. As a disabled veteran I can understand the veterans issues and possibly assist in them finding the right help. Also with homeless vets.
How long have you lived in West Lafayette? And how did you land in the city?
Kathy Parker: My husband, oldest daughter and I moved here on my son’s second birthday – 6/14/01. My husband had been promoted to plant manager at the paper mill in Lafayette (that has since shut down). But this is my home now. It’s where I raised my three children, formed my friendships, enjoy a job that I love and have a sense of community.
James S. Waters: My wife and I have lived in West Lafayette for almost three years. I retired from the Lafayette Post Office then being my wife was from Orange County, California, we thought we would go where there is no snow and some of her family still is. We found we missed the grandkids way too much, so after my run for Congress did not finish the way we hoped we chose to get back to our family we missed.
Name two of your top priorities for the district. And how will you handle them?
Kathy Parker: My two biggest priorities for the city are rectifying the housing crisis and continuing the city’s direction in environmental sustainability. I’ve learned a lot about housing issues from my time on the APC and attendance at Board of Works meetings, and I’m up to date on the city’s environmental policies thanks to the Go Greener Commission. I’ll continue attending those meetings, and contributing ideas to promote a greener West Lafayette.
James S. Waters: A challenge for this district is simple, better transportation due to the addition of new roads and housing makes it an issue. The other is the distance the public parks are to those with small children. There are some very nice parks but a challenge to some to get to them.
What do you see as the biggest challenge for the district? And how do you proposed to solve or deal with it?
Kathy Parker: Right now I see a lack of affordable (and available!) housing as the biggest challenge for the district (not to mention the proposed LEAP Project that we don’t really have any power to control short of telling the state how we feel about that). As for housing, I support policies that will increase housing options for permanent residents. I support the city’s study to identify available housing stock, both rental and owner occupied. I support policies that will return houses to permanent residents.
James S. Waters: The top two issues. No. 1. I would address are housing vs. Airbnb housing situation. As I have been walking housing areas I have had a number of West Lafayette residents voice a concern about houses used for Airbnb. That I feel is a proper topic to address. No. 2. Housing in general. This is a growing city and the issue of what is really needed vs. what is being done is a question. More affordable housing for those younger families to have a decent home to start with. Then the issue of the wonderful Purdue students that wish for a nice comfortable place to call home around here while they complete their education. Two issues in one that need a strong member to help find a solid solution.
How well do you think the city has handled issues of available and affordable housing? What is the most pressing issue related to housing and how would you address it?
Kathy Parker: Well, I think I just touched on that. Other states have stricter regulations regarding transient housing, and I think we need to consider how we could implement greater restrictions. The lack of available housing and drop in school enrollment is possibly related. We have just shy of 60 transient houses in the city limits, exacerbating a clear problem where families can’t access housing to either rent or purchase within the city limits. It’s a problem that needs addressing.
James S. Waters: See the answer above.
What, if anything, should the city do about the Indiana Economic Development Corp.’s plans to build a water pipeline from Tippecanoe County to feed developments in Boone County and in communities along the 35-mile route?
Kathy Parker: This is an issue that has united people across the political spectrum in universal opposition. City Council just passed a resolution calling for a halt to the plan. I’m not sure if it will work since we don’t have any power with the IEDC, but it would be good to keep in touch with the folks who live near the wells to see how the new wells and pipelines are impacting them and their water. The Go Greener Commission could possibly undertake a project to study this proposal and predict a time when we would run out of water. At any rate, it’s important to support our state elected leaders as they try to mitigate the harm that is on the horizon assuming these plans go through.
James S. Waters: On the issue of the plan to build a water pipeline and send the water to another county. To start, I am firmly against it. I feel my reasoning is just and solid. I went to a meeting that was held on this topic and walked away very unhappy. No. 1. The numbers were presented were by the same company, not any independent. No. 2. They start by saying they would only pump about 2 million gallons a day, yet there is no limit. For extra sales they could pump millions more for as long as they wish. No limits were written in. No. 3. A few of the adjoining property owners did report issues already with their water during the test runs of the water while it was being pumped for the test. No. 4. When asked how would they get all that water delivered to the county whom is buying it, their reply was that was not part of their study. So whose land will they try to cut across, maybe using eminent domain? No. 5. When other companies that could have picked West Lafayette to start a new plant they could hear about all the water being pumped out of here and maybe show a sign of concern. Will there be enough for our plant? Our company? That could mean West Lafayette would lose the chance for more jobs and possible increase in tax dollars for the community.
Rate the city’s relationship with Purdue. What, if anything, should be or could be done to improve it?
Kathy Parker: I would give the rating a very good. My feeling is that the new administration at Purdue is engaging with city staff and making efforts to address some of the problems that continuous record numbers of students presents for the city. I do get the impression that they are understanding their role a little bit better.
James S. Waters: I feel the city of West Lafayette and Purdue continue to work well together. There are so many that work at Purdue. Purdue has done many things for the city. Sure there are a few bumps in the road to say but overall I feel this is a great working relationship.
West Lafayette will have a new mayor for the first time in 16 years? What changes, if any, would you like to see in the city’s focus?
Kathy Parker: I’ve been very impressed with the recent plans to study available housing and child care needs within the city. I would still like to see a hospital come to West Lafayette, and a grocery store closer to Purdue.
James S. Waters: As for a new mayor, the only wish I would have is that the new mayor would have a great relationship with the voters. To listen to their wants and needs and stray away from any one group’s position. After all the mayor is supposed to represent all the city, not just a special interest group. That would be the best possible mayor any city could ever hope for.
Name two specific things that separate you from your opponents and why they matter.
Kathy Parker: I have been actively engaged with the city of West Lafayette for many years. I serve on the Parks Board, Area Plan Commission, Go Greener Commission and Human Relations Commission, always learning more about where the city and county have been and where they are heading. It has been my honor to serve the citizens of West Lafayette for the last four years, and I hope to continue in that role.
James S. Waters: Instead of saying what differences there are between my opponent and me I simply ask you see that my 66 years of life has given me the ability to listen to those I am to represent and work for. I will work for their issues and not for a special interest. I served my country and did so with a dedicated heart. I will serve West Lafayette with that same dedication. Voters have already given me issues to look at, and I will start with those as soon as I get elected to serve them.
Age: 55 (the speed limit in some places)
Occupation: Director of advising and Career Development at LARA
Education: BA History (Roanoke College, 1990)
Past elected positions, if any: Elected to council in 2019
Community boards or other community service: Former West Lafayette Police Merit Board member and Redevelopment Commission member. Current Area Plan Commission Board member. Also sit on Go Greener Commission, Parks Board and Human Relations Commission
Immediate family: Husband of 31 years, three grown children, two dogs. Will gain a son-in-law next year
Your campaign site online: https://kathyparkerforwest.wixsite.com/my-site-1
James S. Waters
Education: Logansport Senior High School
Occupation: U.S. Marines 1975 thru June of 1977. Disabled veteran. Retired, U.S. Postal Service
Previous election office, if any: Never ran for anything in Indiana before. I did run for Congress in California during the four years we lived out in Orange County, California. I did not win but it was an eye-opening experience. We really missed our grandchildren and returned to Indiana in December 2020.
Community boards or other community service: I guess when it comes to Ccmmunity boards or service I can only offer up my volunteer work at church.
Immediate family: To start is my dear wife, Sandi. We do a lot together and enjoy our family and church. We have three adult sons and three adult daughters. We so enjoy our 11 grandchildren.
Your campaign site online: Facebook page, James Waters for West Lafayette Councilman District 5
ABOUT THE NOV. 7 MUNICIPAL ELECTION
WHERE TO VOTE AHEAD OF NOV. 7: Early voting started Tuesday, Oct. 24. Here are the times and locations. Voters should bring a valid ID.
8 a.m.-4:30 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 24,-Friday, Oct. 27: Tippecanoe County Office Building, 20 N. Third St., Lafayette.
8 a.m.-noon, Saturday, Oct. 28: Clarks Hill Christian Church, 9510 Pearl St., Clarks Hill.
8 a.m.-4:30 p.m., Monday, Oct. 30-Friday, Nov. 3: Tippecanoe County Office Building, 20 N. Third St., Lafayette
Noon-6 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 2-Friday, Nov. 3: West Lafayette City Hall, 222 N. Chauncey Ave.; Tippecanoe County Fairgrounds, 1406 Teal Road, Lafayette; First Church of the Nazarene, 3801 Union St., Lafayette.
9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 4: West Lafayette City Hall, 222 N. Chauncey Ave.; Tippecanoe County Office Building, 20 N. Third St., Lafayette; First Church of the Nazarene, 3801 Union St., Lafayette.
8 a.m.-noon Monday, Nov. 6: Tippecanoe County Office Building, 20 N. Third St., Lafayette.
ELECTION DAY POLLING PLACES: Polls will be open 6 a.m-6 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 7. Registered voters in Tippecanoe County may use any vote center.
West Lafayette Wellness Center, 1101 Kalberer Road
Faith West Community Center, 1920 Northwestern Ave.
West Lafayette City Hall, 222 N. Chauncey Ave.
Evangelical Covenant Church, 3600 S. Ninth St., Lafayette
Tippecanoe County Fairgrounds, 1406 Teal Road, Lafayette
Northend Community Center, 2000 Elmwood Ave., Lafayette
Christ United Methodist Church, 3610 S. 18th St., Lafayette
First Church of the Nazarene, 3801 Union St., Lafayette
Gathering Point Church, 7201 Wesleyan Drive, Dayton
ON THE NOV. 7 BALLOT: Get a full list of candidates here.
CHECK YOUR VOTER REGISTRATION STATUS AND THE CANDIDATES ON YOUR SPECIFIC BALLOT: Go to the Secretary of State’s portal at www.indianavoters.com.
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