Candidate Q&A: West Lafayette City Council District 6
A candidate Q&A with Republican incumbent Jeff Brown and Democrat Stacey Baitinger Burr, seeking the District 6 seat on the West Lafayette City Council.
Republican incumbent Jeff Brown and Democrat Stacey Baitinger Burr are seeking the District 6 seat on the West Lafayette City Council in the Nov. 7 election.
Brown was appointed to the seat since the 2019 municipal election, after the death of council member Norris Wang. District 6 includes much of the western edges 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?
Jeff Brown: I'm committed to our community. I want to ensure that it continues to grow in a way that benefits its residents. My experience in leadership roles has given me valuable skills I believe will make a positive impact on our future. I serve on City Council, on boards, have worked closely with Purdue University and participate in community organizations, all of which have given me insights into the needs and potential of our community. I believe in responsible growth, collaboration, safety and accessibility. Serving and listening to residents’ concerns are my way of giving back and working to keep West Lafayette safe, vibrant and inclusive for all residents.
Stacey Baitinger Burr: I have deep roots and understanding of this community. I believe I can contribute skills and experience in business and technology to help the city navigate growth, change, constraints and livability.
How long have you lived in West Lafayette? And how did you land in the city?
Jeff Brown: I've proudly called West Lafayette home since 1990, starting as a renter for three years before becoming a homeowner in Blackbird Farms. My initial attraction to this area was its thriving medical community, and I was also captivated by the exceptional offerings of Purdue University, renowned for its academic excellence. West Lafayette is characterized by its inclusive and diverse community, offering a high quality of life and a safe place to raise a family. It fosters a strong sense of togetherness and provides a wide range of cultural, recreational and outdoor activities to enjoy.
Stacey Baitinger Burr: I grew up in West Lafayette, then moved East for work after graduating from Purdue. We moved back to West Lafayette 23 years ago to raise our family, be close to extended family and to work from West Lafayette.
Name two of your top priorities for the district. And how will you handle them?
Jeff Brown: Safety and Accessibility: Road safety is paramount, and I'm dedicated to improving it through thoughtful regulation of scooter traffic, widening certain roads, enhancing our multi-use trails, and prioritizing bicycle and pedestrian safety. I’ll continue to engage as a city councilor by advocating for appropriate ordinance adoption and enhanced enforcement while ensuring that the necessary funding is allocated to make our roads and pathways safer.
Thoughtful Growth: Managing growth is essential. We need to strike a balance between healthy growth and preserving the unique character that defines our community. I’ll work diligently to make informed decisions that allow us to progress while safeguarding the qualities that make West Lafayette special. This means ensuring that any development benefits all our residents and aligns with our community's values and vision.
Stacey Baitinger Burr: District 6 has over 400 acres of land still to be developed. The quality and mix of future developments on that open land are a priority to the residents. In addition to attracting clean industry that will put jobs and roots in West Lafayette, we also want to round out the live-work-play amenities that make a community thrive – specifically, attracting a grocery store to the southwest side of campus, sidewalks and bike paths, and neighborhood playgrounds would be well received. District 6 residents also share that they are keen to see commercial air service resume at the Purdue airport
What do you see as the biggest challenge for the district? And how do you proposed to solve or deal with it?
Jeff Brown: The biggest challenge in West Lafayette, as I see it, is managing growth while preserving our community's unique character. Our city is thriving, and we want it to continue to do so, but we must ensure that growth is sustainable and thoughtful. To address this challenge, I propose a comprehensive approach:
1. Community Engagement: Involving residents in decision-making.
2. Smart Development: Responsible and well-planned growth.
3. Balanced Zoning: Regulations that preserve neighborhoods and safeguard landmarks.
4. Collaboration with Purdue: Leveraging resources while managing impact.
By fostering this comprehensive approach, we can address challenges and ensure our city remains a vibrant and inclusive place to live.
Stacey Baitinger Burr: Since water and affordable housing are covered below, I’ll comment on other important topics.
For students their top issues are rental prices, parking, transportation, food access and environmental sustainability. Being a Purdue grad and the parent of Purdue grads, I feel strongly that students will have the best experience when they can live affordably and close to the campus to fully enjoy that very special and unique time in their lives.
For longer term residents it's the pace of development and how the city is paying for all of the growth, concerns about traffic and also environmental sustainability.
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?
Jeff Brown: Assessing how well West Lafayette has handled issues of available and affordable housing depends on individual perspectives. However, one pressing issue is the availability of affordable housing for all income groups. To address this, we can employ various strategies. These include collaborating with developers and nonprofits to create affordable housing, implementing inclusionary zoning policies in new developments, and reviewing land use regulations to encourage mixed-income housing. Strengthening tenant protections and data-driven decision-making are vital components to ensure our policies align with community needs and track progress effectively, fostering a more inclusive living environment for all residents with varying incomes.
Stacey Baitinger Burr: The city is being aggressive to increase the housing capacity shortage; it can take years for new development to catch up to the expanding student enrollment and people relocating to our community. There is not a short-term fix. We need to look at solutions that collaborate with Purdue and the entire Greater Lafayette/Tippecanoe County leaders to forecast growth, because West Lafayette may not be in a position to address the supply shortage by itself.
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?
Jeff Brown: I endorsed and voted in favor of the resolution against the pipeline, as adopted by the West Lafayette City Council in its meeting on Oct. 2, 2023. Further study and collaboration with stakeholders are essential, and state-level legislation may be required to ensure appropriate impact consideration. Key factors to consider are the environmental effects, infrastructure capacity, long-term consequences and increased community input. Our decision should prioritize the welfare of all Tippecanoe County residents.
Stacey Baitinger Burr: This hot button conversation illustrates that all stakeholders need to be in the conversation and do the homework about sustaining the long-term security of plentiful water access. We should:
Insist on project transparency, involve experts, and unbiased data collection to understand the ability to support unknown future water demands.
Require IEDC to assure that potential industries also invest to minimize their impact on the water supply and power grid. The LEAP district conversation is currently focused on water, but the Indiana power grid may also have challenges in supporting demand.
Work with state elected officials to put water rights legislation in place during the next session to assure local involvement, extraction capacity guardrails and shared resource policy.
If water extraction happens, a financial benefit should come back to this area to reflect our contribution to economic development in other parts of the state.
Rate the city’s relationship with Purdue. What, if anything, should be or could be done to improve it?
Jeff Brown: The relationship between Purdue University and the city of West Lafayette is characterized by a close and collaborative partnership. It is multifaceted, with both entities working together to create a thriving, inclusive and mutually beneficial environment. It’s imperative we continue this partnership, as it involves ongoing discussions and negotiations to address the evolving needs of the city and the university, especially to ensure resident and student safety.
Stacey Baitinger Burr: Being a university town is what brings so much character and opportunity to West Lafayette. Because of the deep reliance between West Lafayette and Purdue, the relationship needs to be strong and always improving. Collaborative long term planning and sharing mutual objectives and goals will make the relationship and outcomes even stronger.
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?
Jeff Brown: To ensure a smooth transition and align with the new administration's goals, City Council should focus on the following with the mayor:
Policy Review: Review and adjust all policies to align with West Lafayette’s vision.
Budget and Finance: Review the approved 2024 budget and the 2023 finance report with the mayor.
Infrastructure and Development: Address infrastructure and zoning in line with the mayor's vision.
Community Services: Ensure essential services align with priorities.
Collaboration: Foster communication between the City Council and the mayor's office.
Long-Term Planning: Focus on the city's future growth and prosperity.
Stacey Baitinger Burr: We could benefit from new areas of focus, including:
Long range financial planning to become “budget-ready” when the Tax Increment Financing zones expire in 2039.
Becoming a magnet for the vital talent workforce of our future. This includes attracting great people as public safety officers, mental health providers, health care professionals, child care workers and school bus drivers.
Development and infrastructure improvements to handle future growth are going strong. More attention on “livability” would be a good complement. This includes exploring new opportunities to enrich the culture via social vibrancy, family and student activities, retail amenities, and supporting a healthy and green lifestyle.
Name two specific things that separate you from your opponents and why they matter.
Jeff Brown: I’m proud to have received the endorsement of Mayor John Dennis, a testament to my strong qualifications as a candidate. As the incumbent, I bring experience and a proven track record of effective leadership on the City Council.
What sets me apart from my opponent is my extensive background in administration, leadership and community service, complemented by years of medical practice both in hospitals and outpatient settings. In addition to providing care to patients and their families, I’ve dedicated myself to teaching and mentoring, enriching my understanding of community needs and fostering collaboration.
My combination of experience, leadership and dedication makes me the better candidate, as it equips me with a deep understanding of our community and the ability to drive positive change effectively.
Stacey Baitinger Burr: I have a strong business leadership and technology background that can bring new, relevant problem-solving skills to the city council. I am an active, creative entrepreneur and international business person that knows how to dig into issues, collaborate with diverse stakeholders and find ways to move forward with practical and affordable solutions so we can get things done. As a deeply rooted “local” with strong, active ties to Purdue, I’d like to serve my home town to nurture a vibrant culture and be a welcoming place to live.
Occupation: Retired physician
Education: BA, Biology, Indiana University, 1976; M.D., Indiana University, 1980
Past elected positions, if any: Elected by caucus as West Lafayette City Councilman, District 6 in 2021
Community boards or other community service: Currently serving as Secretary, Board of Directors, Blackbird Farms Homeowners Association and on the Board of Directors, North Central Health Services; Board of Directors Greater Lafayette Chamber of Commerce, 1999-2002.
Immediate family: Daughter, Isabella, 15 years old
Your campaign site online: For more information, contact me at ElectJeffBrownWL6@gmail.com
Stacey Baitinger Burr
Occupation: I work from West Lafayette commercializing technology in health tech, sports tech and wearables. I am involved in national, state and local start-up communities helping incubate business innovation.
Education: Klondike, Harrison Hight School, Purdue B.S. Engineering, MBA Daniels School of Business
Past elected positions, if any: none
Community boards or other community service: West Lafayette Traffic Commission, Rally cross-sector innovation conference committee, Purdue Daniels School of Business Dean’s advisory board, SheScales Board helping female founders scale their business. WEAR conference co-chair.
Immediate family: I have children, siblings, nieces who live in Greater Lafayette as students and business people.
Your campaign site online: www.staceyburr4WL.com
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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