Discover more from Based in Lafayette, Indiana
WL City Council member David Sanders jumps into state Senate race
Plus ... Trader Joe’s, anyone? Lafayette, West Lafayette look at new way to attract ‘oft requested retailers’
Today’s free edition of the Based in Lafayette reporting project is sponsored by Purdue University’s Presidential Lecture Series, featuring President Mitch Daniels’ Feb. 1 conversation with Kenneth R. Feinberg, who oversaw the historic 9/11 victim compensation fund. For more details, scroll to the end of today’s edition.
The Republican primary in May will be crowded in the newly drawn Indiana Senate District 23.
On Tuesday, David Sanders, a Purdue biology professor and West Lafayette City Council member, guaranteed there will a campaign heading into the November general election, too.
Sanders, a Democrat who has run for an Indiana Senate seat before, filed for the District 23 seat during a stop at the Indiana Statehouse.
Sanders said he was running “because I believe rural areas need access to jobs, broadband, proper health care and decent roads.” He also said he’d champion local control, rather than mandates from General Assembly.
“And I believe that Tippecanoe County should be represented by someone who it can respect,” Sanders said. “I’m not saying anything about the other candidates. It’s just what this area deserves.”
Sanders, re-elected to an at-large seat on the West Lafayette City Council in 2019, said he hadn’t planned to run for Indiana Senate until redistricting shifted the design of districts in Tippecanoe County and pushed West Lafayette out of District 22 – state Sen. Ron Alting’s Lafayette-centered seat – and into a sprawling District 23.
Senate District 23 covers all or parts of Tippecanoe, Vermillion, Parke, Fountain, Warren and Montgomery counties. It will essentially be an open seat, after state Sen. Phil Boots, a Crawfordsville Republican, was drawn out of the district and has since announced he plans to retire at the end of this term.
Two Republicans have filed to run in District 23, and two other say they plan to file before the noon Feb. 4 deadline for major party candidates to get on the primary ballot.
Paula Copenhaver, Fountain County clerk and a Covington resident, was the first in the race, announcing her intentions in October.
Spencer Deery, part of Purdue President Mitch Daniels’ staff and a West Lafayette resident, was next.
Christian Beaver, a West Lafayette resident who is part of Beaver Construction Management, followed.
Bill Webster, Parke County Republican Party chairman, was fourth.
Sanders is the first Democrat to file or announce in the race. Before winning city council seat in 2015 and again in 2019, Sanders lost to Alting in Senate District 22 in 2002. He lost three campaigns for U.S. House 4th District, twice to former Rep. Steve Buyer and most recently to former Rep. Todd Rokita. (In 2010, Sanders received 26% of the vote in a district that included counties in the new state Senate District 23.)
“I think the district is winnable,” Sanders said.
Sanders also has hands full with a city ordinance he proposed that would ban unlicensed therapists from practicing conversion therapy with minors – a move that is drawing huge blowback and letter writing campaigns from conservative religious leaders and has faced a promised veto by West Lafayette Mayor John Dennis, who says the ordinance would unenforceable. That proposal is expected to be on the city council’s agenda Feb. 7.
MORE FILINGS: Here’s what the Tippecanoe County Elections Office reported by the end of the day Tuesday for candidate filings that will appear on ballots in the county:
TRADER JOE’S, ETC., ANYONE?
When an economic development contract came up Tuesday morning about a firm that could help West Lafayette and Lafayette with data to sort through redevelopment projects that “attract the oft requested retailers,” Jeff Love, a West Lafayette board of works member, cut to the chase,
“Is this firm the one that would help us attract the elusive Whole Foods that everybody seems to want?” Love asked.
That’s a yes, Erin Easter, West Lafayette development director, said about a contract with Buxton Economic Development Tools, based in Fort Worth, Texas.
Easter said the idea was that Buxton’s data tools also could be used to help smaller, local businesses get better consumer insights. She said the analysis into local markets and demographics also would help when developers come during project negotiations with a promise of a desirable retailer or restaurant.
“Then we can verify that this is the right fit for our community and this is the kind of organization that can be successful here,” Easter said.
West Lafayette’s stake in the software data mining platform will be $23,700. Lafayette is expected to consider its share soon.
Whole Foods was the example tossed out at the West Lafayette board of works meeting Tuesday. (So was Nordstrom and Nordstrom Rack, among others.) The running plea for a decade or more has revolved around what it would take to get a Trader Joe’s market in West Lafayette.
“A Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s would be great,” Dennis Carson, Lafayette’s economic development director, said Tuesday.
“But this, we hope, will give a better sense as to why or why not that can be attracted and what we might need to do to attract them, or what other store would be a similar fit or even better,” Carson said. “And more immediate, what might an existing retailer add or change to attract that type of customer that would frequent a Whole Foods or Traders Joe’s. Not that someone would totally replicate a Whole Foods or Traders Joe’s, but maybe certain aspects or products could be added or changed that could help grow their business and meet local demand.”
Speaking of which …: A while back, about the time word came that two – count ‘em, two – Popeyes franchises were coming to Lafayette and West Lafayette, we collected a wish list called: You know what this place needs is …? What does Lafayette/West Lafayette need next, and why?
The thread is open. What does this place need?
Sounds like something a spam filter would write.
Thanks to Purdue University’s Presidential Lecture Series for sponsoring today’s edition. For details about Purdue President Mitch Daniels’ Feb. 1 conversation with Kenneth R. Feinberg, whose work includes compensation funds from 9/11 to the Sandy Hook Elementary killings to the stage collapse at the Indiana State Fairgrounds in 2011, click the graphic below.
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