COLUMBIA CITY — Mayor Jim Fleck said there are several reasons behind his decision to not seek re-election for the post he currently holds.
Primary among those reasons are family, health and the state of the economy.
At the end of 2011, Fleck will have finished his second term in office, and he says it’s time for someone else to take over.
“There’s lots about this job I like, but I’ve done it for eight years, it’s time for someone else to look at it,” he said, adding that he believes the city is a better place than when he started.
Family is the first reason Fleck cited for choosing to return to private citizen status.
Fleck said he is beyond the age of retirement and is not anxious to go into his 70s working. He also noted he has grandchildren on the East Coast that he would like to see more frequently than he is able to now due to his responsibilities to the city.
He also listed health concerns as a reason behind his decision, noting that he is diabetic and has to carefully watch his activities.
“The job has a lot of stress which affects diabetes,” he said. “I want to remain healthy. I don’t want to roll the dice too many times.”
Beyond those reasons, Fleck thinks that the state of the economy and revenue coming from the state is going to make future projects hard to do.
“There’s not a lot of new things that we can do,” he said. “New initiatives are going to be impossible.”
Fleck said there are three projects in the works right now that are paid for. His goal for his last year in office is to see two of those projects completed.
The first project is the extension of the Blue River Trail to the north side of the city. A bridge over the Blue River and a trail extension to homes located around Columbia Square shopping plaza will provide easier access for residents there to reach the park, library and YMCA.
Secondly, Fleck said the city is knee-deep in brownfields and he would like to see closure on those projects thereby getting people into these facilities and back on the city’s tax rolls.
The third project the city is currently involved in is the wastewater treatment project. Fleck said Phase II of the four-phase project will likely be completed by the end of the summer, which provides a natural break in the project for new leadership to take over.
“An awful lot of what we do is continuous, like putting in sidewalks and continuing to work on downtown revitalization.”
Fleck also sits on four committees at the state level, including the Kernan-Shephard committee, which he said may be his biggest regret about leaving office at the end of his term.
“I can’t sit on that committee if I’m not in office,” he said.
Fleck said he disagrees with a lot of the ideas in the report, that Gov. Mitch Daniels would like to see implemented, saying that the ideas better serve the doughnut counties around Indianapolis and do little to help government efficiency in other areas of the state.
All in all, though, Fleck said he has enjoyed working with the federal, state and county officials.
“They are all trying to do the same thing — make this a better place. I’m impressed by the hard work that public officials do.”