Deputy Mayor Kate Swanson Unveils Her Vision for Progress and Community Growth

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January/February 2024

Zionsville Monthly is pleased to feature Deputy Mayor Kate Swanson on its latest cover. We sat down with Swanson, who offered insights into immediate goals and ongoing projects aimed at fostering progress and community growth within the town. The new administration wasted no time and hit the ground running as soon as the new year commenced, demonstrating a proactive approach to initiating positive changes and advancements for the benefit of Zionsville.

Improving Communications

From the inception of his campaign and continuing seamlessly after taking the oath of office, Mayor John Stehr has prioritized the enhancement of communications from the mayor’s office as a central focus of his administration. This commitment extends to improving both internal and external communication channels, reflecting Mayor Stehr’s dedication to fostering transparency and efficient information flow throughout the community and within the administration itself.

Deputy Mayor Kate Swanson

Swanson said, “This administration is an open book. We are meeting with every town councilor, one-on-one, to keep them informed and updated. A big priority for this administration is going to be developing South Village…we are super excited about that. We don’t have final plans in place yet, but we want to keep the council in the know beforehand. There’s no reason to hide anything from the town council, and we are going to share everything that’s going on with them throughout the process. The mayor is going to provide honest, concise, and transparent updates all of the time.”

Devising a Comprehensive Plan and Developing South Village

Swanson reiterated the mayor’s statements that emphasize the need for commercial growth to secure the town’s economic viability. Throughout Mayor Stehr’s campaign, he and Swanson highlighted the town’s heavy reliance on residential property taxes. This administration aims to alleviate this burden on homeowners by attracting more commercial development. In pursuit of this goal, Swanson shared how the administration envisions the redevelopment of South Village. This proposed development is part of the mayor’s broader strategy to not only diversify the tax base but also enhance the vibrancy of downtown Zionsville by drawing in more visitors.

“We’re lucky in the way that we can really start developing South Village. At the same time, we will be working on the comprehensive plan—which takes 12 to 18 months to complete—because we want to get the entire community involved, review all of that input, and really start to make moves there,” Swanson shared. “We are looking at this [development] holistically. We’re not going to look at it as one individual project. It’s a comprehensive plan of 100 acres from Pine Street all the way south to the old 106th Street where the cemetery is. The Gateway Project is a project within South Village…it is a portion of the entire development.”

Swanson added, “What we want to share with people is the big-picture view of what we envision. And what we are envisioning does not take away from our ‘crown jewel’ that is the heart of our town. We want to add to that and enhance what’s already there. We want more people to frequent restaurants, [and] more shoppers, and we want more public art. Additionally, there will be more green space to tie into our trails and work into the existing [green] spaces.”

Zionsville’s Reengagement at the County and State Levels

The Town of Zionsville is reinforcing its collaboration with the Boone County Economic Development Corporation (Boone EDC). In a town council meeting on January 16, Mayor Stehr successfully proposed and received unanimous approval for a resolution allocating funds to the Boone EDC for their 2024 services. As a nonprofit organization, Boone EDC is committed to fostering the growth of Boone County through active engagement with businesses, developers, consultants, real estate brokers, public officials and the community.

This renewed partnership signifies the Town of Zionsville’s ongoing commitment to economic development, with Mayor Stehr prioritizing this collaboration by appropriating funds from the Food and Beverage Fund for economic development services.

“You have to be able to work with your neighbors; it is vital to the health and future of Zionsville,” Swanson emphasized. “Another example of this is the mayor participating in the Central Indiana Regional Development Authority (CIRDA) board meetings. The CIRDA board is made up of all participating municipalities’ mayors. It is a huge priority for our mayor that we plant our flag in CIRDA…they have $750 million that they’re distributing to towns around the state. We’ve asked for $37 million—we won’t get $37 million—but we have really ambitious plans for South Village and would use those funds for the infrastructure of that development.”

Additional Highlights and Announcements

For the last few years, the previous administration has offered community enrichment grants to local nonprofit organizations funded by the town’s food and beverage dollars.

“We won’t be doing the community enrichment grants going forward,” Swanson explained. “I loved the idea of an equitable way for nonprofits to apply for [grants], but those came from the food and beverage tax fund, and we’ve decided that we would like to use the [food and beverage] dollars to make an economic impact in the town. We would like to direct nonprofits to the Community Foundation of Boone County, which has been doing this work for over 30 years in our community and is well-suited for this. They do a wonderful job distributing money to local nonprofits, and we will continue to support them in other ways that we can.”

“Another priority is digitization and cyber security,” Swanson said. “Municipal governments, as a whole, are behind, and coming from a software company, it’s really hard for me when somebody brings me a piece of paper to sign. There are so many ways that we can make things more efficient and secure for not only the town employees but for the residents. We have the IT resources, and the state is giving grants to municipalities to stay up to date on cybersecurity measures because you can’t do one [digitization] without the other [cybersecurity].”

A Passion and Vision for the Deputy Mayor Role

When questioned about her contributions to the role and her overarching goals, Swanson articulated her unique skill set and outlined her aspirations for the position.

“The mayor and I work really well together, and economic development and business advocacy are real passions of mine,” Swanson said. “When I was younger, I used to work at the US Chamber of Commerce in Washington D.C., and I used to travel all over the country, visiting chambers of commerce. I got a real taste for what business advocacy is from big business to small business. What I think I bring to this administration is that excitement and genuine interest in supporting and celebrating our business community, which does so much for the area.”

Deputy Mayor Kate Swanson

Swanson added, “I’m definitely a behind-the-scenes kind of person. I love to solve problems and get things done. I enjoy working with people on ways to get things done. I enjoy being able to help Mayor Stehr’s vision come to fruition, which is how I think I can be most helpful to his administration. I think it takes big, bold leadership to move something forward sometimes. I think Mayor Stehr is prepared to support a big, bold vision with the help of a comprehensive plan, which is comprised of the entire town’s input, and lead the charge with that input.”

Public Notice

In addition to notices and announcements posted on the town’s website and Facebook page, the public is encouraged to watch public meetings that are streamed online via the town’s YouTube channel.

Mayor Stehr will speak at his first State of the Town address on Wednesday, March 20, 2024, from 7:30-9 a.m. The public is encouraged to watch online, or people can register for a seat at the town hall through the Zionsville Chamber of Commerce’s website at zionsvillechamber.org. This event is free and open to the public.