Senior staff writer
Russ McClure’s transition into the Southport mayor’s office could not have gone smoother.
McClure won the general election in November by 13 votes over incumbent Republican Jesse Testruth, whose personality helped bring unity among most city employees and many Southport residents.
“Smooth would be a good word to describe it, really smooth,” McClure said. “I can’t think of any problems. I have no complaints.”
Public safety and finances are two of McClure’s priorities, and those are two responsibilities shored up by Clerk-Treasurer Dianna Bossingham and Police Chief Thomas Wright, who was reappointed by Testruth.
“We have a good flow from last year into this year with those two leaders; she is very knowledgeable of city finances and state requirements, and he has accomplished a lot with the police department,” McClure said. “And our City Council members have an understanding of how government works.
The five-member council consists of James Cooney, Joseph Haley, Larry Tungent, Kenny Winslow and Steve Beals.
McClure, former president of the city’s Redevelopment Commission, sees nothing but progress ahead for Southport, especially with the sale of the vacant Gerdt Furniture building, now occupied primarily by Renaissance Electronic Services, which donated $50,000 to the city last year for a handicap-accessible playground in Southport Park.
The mayor anticipates construction to begin in late March of a combined apartment/retail complex on vacant property northwest of the railroad track and Southport Road.
He revealed that the vacated post office building has been purchased and will be developed as a retail site.
“Everything that is finally happening will spark more development in Southport, not only business but residential,” McClure said. “We soon will have more people working in that section of Southport Road.
“We think we will see some developers who will step up now who didn’t want to be first or who were looking for a safer bet on their investment.”
McClure praised citizens on the RDC and Board of Works for putting in hundreds of hours to bring development to the heart of Southport.
Looking ahead, the mayor wants to develop an inventory of sidewalk and street conditions for future improvements on a scheduled basis and improve Southport’s public relations and marketing reach.
“A more systematic approach to street and sidewalk maintenance and improvements is needed. “We want to keep up with what is needed and not get stuck doing it piecemeal or as an emergency.”
McClure sees a continued need to improve Southport’s participation and impact with the Metropolitan Planning Organization and with various Indianapolis City-County boards and commissions. He sees that step as part of the city’s need for improved marketing.
“We need to double our efforts to market Southport to the rest of the county, the state and even the nation,” he emphasized. “We need to work hard and get the word out about Southport, what we have, what we can do and what we would like to do.”
McClure also seeks to improve the city’s web page.