As city councilman Tim Salters looks to vacate his District 5 seat in search of an at-large spot on the city council, two political newcomers are vying for the chance to take over.

After a unsuccessful bid for an at-large spot four years ago, Republican Ryan Lough is this time seeking the District 5 seat. He’s being challenged by Democrat Vicki Reeves.

Lough, a landscape design artist and horticulturist, moved to Vincennes in 2006 from his home in Northern Indiana to take a job as director of operations at Perk-A-Lawn Gardens; only recently, he became the first grounds assistant at Vincennes University, where he also teaches classes in landscape design, horticulture and pest control.

Reeves moved to Vincennes in 1992 from her native home in California, where she owned and operated her own business. She got her real estate license but later took a job at the Lodge of the Wabash as admissions and marketing director. Currently, she is in her 12th year in the same role at Fox Ridge Manor.

She has developed a passion for the elderly, she said, particularly veterans; over the last five years, she’s signed up 60 local veterans for the Honor Flight, an opportunity to veterans to fly to Washington D.C.

She also gives seminars to veterans to be sure they understand the full range of benefits afforded to them through Veterans Affairs.

Reeves says her 21 years working with the public, mediating and building relationships would benefit the city if she were elected.

“Over the past five years or so, I’ve seen a lot of progress happen in our city, and I want to be a part of continuing that progress,” Reeves said. “I think it’s awesome. I want to help make Vincennes a place where people can afford to live, raise their kids, have good jobs.”

Lough said he, too, simply wants to be more involved, and he believes his experience in management, crafting spending plans and leadership makes him an excellent fit.

“I’m a terrific budgeter,” he said. “I did that as director of operations at Perk-A-Lawn for all this years. I was a pastor for eight years, so I ran the church’s budget.

“I can see things that other people can’t,” he said. “That’s why I’m running. I think I have a good ability to look at things from a retail perspective. I can make sure government is getting the most out of our taxpayer dollars.”

Lough said while his No. 1 platform item this election has been bringing his business background to city government, if elected, he also wants to push for better long-term maintenance.

“I want to see 5-year, 10-year maintenance programs and budgeting to go along with them,” he said. “We have a tendency to add a new park or the Riverwalk, but then once the improvements are done, we have no way to keep it up.

“If we’re going to have the new pool, then we need to ask ourselves, ‘How are we gong to keep it renovated 10 years later?’”

Lough said he also wants to more actively serve as a liaison between the council and District 5; he envisions the creation of newsletters or quarterly flyers to better communicate with constituents and, more specifically, how tax dollars are being spent to benefit them.

He also wants to see the addition of a full-time code compliance officer with its own department. Currently, the city has a part-time code enforcement officer that answers to the city inspector.

“I think I can come in and tweak management here and there, and I think we can have a more productive city council,” he said. “I want to be part of a council that is watching its funds do more for us, having better debate, better conversations. People should feel like their councilmen are listening and acting on their behalf.”

Reeves said if elected she would continue to push for more paving efforts. The city has, for the last few years, invested millions in its infrastructure — both roads and sidewalks — thanks to the state’s new Community Crossings Matching Grant program.

With her love of the elderly, a walkable city, she said, is an absolute must.

“Handicapped accessibility is so important,” she said.

For her, it’s about continuing the momentum she already sees. Vincennes, she said, “has become a cleaner place” with “a lot of development.”

“Things are popping downtown,” she said. “There are a lot more events than what there used to be to entertain people in the community. And that’s important — hometown is important.”

Reeves said during her campaign she’s encouraged people to get more involved with their city’s government. She said she wants to “encourage people to act on the things they want to see changed.”

“Come to the council meetings,” she said. “I want to see more people involved in what’s going on.

“I want to have an open door policy where people can feel they can contact me if they have a concern,” she said. “Honestly, I”m having a blast with this campaign. I’m getting out and meeting so many new people.

“It’s been really fun.”

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