TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — A day after securing his fourth term as Terre Haute mayor, Duke Bennett reflected on the last eleven years.
“One, it went very fast, but two, just accomplishing the Margaret Ave. overpass, getting rid of the smell in Terre Haute, those were two things that I had committed to in the very beginning.”
Bennett also committed to the push to bring a casino to Terre Haute, attending Statehouse meetings in Indianapolis and declaring himself a supporter off Enrolled House Bill 1015, which included the language necessary to bring a casino to Vigo County.
We have to have more jobs; we have to have better paying jobs.Duke Bennett, Terre Haute mayor
Bennett says he fought for the casino referendum to be part of the process.
“I wanted the people here to make that decision; I didn’t want just elected officials to say there’s going to be a casino in Terre Haute.”
The casino vote passed with 63% of the vote on Tuesday, and Bennett says the 1.2 to 1.4 million people expected to visit both the casino and the future convention center in downtown Terre Haute will be a big economic boost for the community.
“Small businesses are the ones that are going to benefit the most from this, whether it’s a gas station or a restaurant or a retail store, those are the kind of places where these visitors are going to go.”
Bennett says he’s hoping to use the revenue from the casino and convention center projects to bring an indoor/outdoor water park to the area and continue with the “Turn to the River” initiative building up the Wabash river walk.
“I’d love to be able to see at the end of four years that we’ve seen a reduction in addictions here in our community, especially drug addiction, that’s a big one for me.”Duke Bennett, Terre Haute mayor
Bennett also says the next four years will focus on building the local workforce in order to curb addiction and broken homes. Bennett says he wants to increase household income in order to keep people away from the behaviors that can lead to those broken homes.
“We have to have more jobs, we have to have better paying jobs, so it just keeps building,” said Bennett. “We’ve not had a community effort to help people get over some of these hurdles. That’s going to be my goal and my focus over the next four years.”
Improved roads and sidewalks, as well as an elimination of blighted properties, were also listed as priorities for Bennett’s fourth term. He says 702 blighted homes have been demolished through the city’s efforts, but he is hoping new revenue helps allow locals and visitors alike to see with their eyes the investments being made into the community.