A political newcomer and a political veteran are vying for Sullivan residents’ votes for mayor in the Nov. 6 general election.

Scott Biddle, 57, a retired school administrator of the Northeast School Corp. and lifelong Sullivan resident, will face off in the election against Jean McMahan, 61, a previous Sullivan City Council at-large member and a lifelong resident of the community.

“Sullivan’s been good to me,” Biddle said, “and I want to give back.”

Though he has no political experience, having been an athletic director, assistant principal and principal during his time with the school corporation, Biddle does have leadership experience.

McMahan’s political experience consists of four years on the City Council as an at-large member as well as a member of the Board of Works.

“I think there are a lot of things that Sullivan could be that we’re not,” she said about why she wants to be mayor. “… I think there’s a place for small towns.”

Roads will be a major priority for Biddle because he wants to come up with a five- or seven-year plan that would get them resurfaced on a rotating basis, he said.

“We’re not abundant in monetary resources,” Biddle said. “I think it’s very important [that] we’ve got to maintain the roads.”

One project Biddle would like to continue that the current administration started is the cleanup weekends in the spring that allow citizens to bring various household items such as appliances to the city garage for disposal.

“That’s been a very positive aspect of this administration,” he said.

Something McMahan would like to continue from this administration is the work the park board has done to try to get new playground equipment, she said.

Forming a committee to put together a plan or vision for Sullivan’s future is one of the new programs McMahan would like to start, she said, so that her administration and the community will have something to work toward.

“… I don’t think that just elected officials should have the say on that,” she said, because there are a lot of people in the city who have a lot of good ideas, but don’t necessarily want to be political officials.

By having a plan, McMahan said all the wants and needs of the city can be prioritized and the city can develop ways to get things done and be ready for other things as they come up.

“You always have to be working on something and finishing up something, but then you have to have that next step ready,” she said. “ … You need to know what is next, whether it be working to help citizens get sidewalks replaced or curbing fixed, streets worked on or if the fire department needs something or if the police department needs something, you need to always have those plans in place and prioritized.”

Other concerns both candidates have learned about or want to address if elected include city beautification, the many empty houses in the city and animal control.

Although Sullivan has an animal control officer who is paid to collect animals and find homes for them, the county itself does not have an animal shelter, and the city control officer keeps the animals on his property.

A small group of people has been working with county officials as well as officials of all cities and towns in Sullivan County to get the money to build a shelter.

Both McMahan and Biddle agree animal control is an issue and that the city of Sullivan should do its share to help.

In the end, McMahan said politics doesn’t matter.

“Everyone has to work together, regardless of politics. Once elected, I think politics should not be an issue. If you’re elected to be a mayor, you’re a mayor of all the people,” she said. “… I’d like to see government responsive to the needs and responsible to the citizens of Sullivan, I’d like people to feel free, if I was mayor, to come to me with any kind of a problem and the same way with the employees.”

Biddle agrees, in some ways. Things can get done in Sullivan, he said, but it’s not up to one person and it won’t happen overnight.

“Sullivan’s a good community. I think we all want the same thing,” he said. “We just want to improve the quality of life and living in this community. And we all want a lot of the same things done, but it takes hard work, it takes support, and it takes money.”

Crystal Garcia can be reached at (812) 231-4271 or crystal.garcia@tribstar.com.

Mayoral candidates

• Scott Biddle (D)

Age — 57

Education — Graduated from Sullivan High School in 1968 then graduated from Indiana State University in 1973 with a major in education. He has a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree. Also graduated from the Indiana Principals Leadership Academy.

Experience — Retired school administrator from Northeast School Corp. While he has no political leadership experience, during his time with the School Corp. he was an athletic director, assistant principal and principal. He was also on the state board of directors for the Indiana Association of School Principals from 1997 through 2000.

Family — He is divorced with a son, 28 and a daughter, 30. He has five grandchildren.

• M. Jean McMahan (R)

Age — 61

Education — Graduated from Sullivan High School and attended Indiana State University for three years.

Experience — Currently on the board of directors of the Wabash Valley Community Foundation Sullivan Affiliate. Owned The Newsstand for more than 20 years before retiring. Past president of the Sullivan Chamber of Commerce and Retail Merchants Association. Previous political experience includes four years as the at-large member of the Sullivan City Council and a member of the Board of Public Works.

Family — Married since 1967, she has raised three sons and has three grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

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