Fishers Town Manager Scott Fadness’ job is going away at the end of next year, but he’s gauging residents' interest in keeping him on in a different role: mayor.
Fadness, 31, said Monday that he has formed an exploratory committee to weigh running for mayor next year as Fishers makes its transition from town to city. He plans to make a decision by Oct. 1.
"I wanted to make sure I have time to talk to residents in an open fashion and get their thoughts and considerations," he said.
Earlier this year, Fadness told IBJ he didn't expect to run for elected office. The change of heart came about through discussions with his wife, Aunna.
"I love the community and believe in what we're doing," he said. "In the end, it was just too hard for me to walk away from it without a fight."
Residents of the fast-growing suburb voted in November to turn the town of 80,000 into a second-class city with an elected mayor and nine-member city council. It’s governed now by a seven-member town council that appoints a town manager to run day-to-day affairs.
Fadness has had the job since 2011. Before that, he was deputy town manager and budget director. As town manager, he oversees a $60 million budget and a staff of almost 400.
Voters will choose partisan candidates for mayor, city council and city clerk in the May 2014 primary—typically the most-contentious election in the overwhelmingly Republican community—and return to the polls in November.
“Becoming a city opens new doors of possibility for Fishers,” Fadness said in a prepared statement. “I want to help lead our community as we strengthen our position as a city for businesses and families to grow.”
He wants to continue building an environment where innovation can flourish. Fadness is a co-founder of Launch Fishers, a co-working space for entrepreneurs. Among his other goals: improving the delivery of core services by using technology and developing a "sense of place" in Fishers that will give the city more of an identity.
A $35 million mixed-use project planned for downtown is just the first step, he said.
"We're a long way from accomplishing it," he said, but he sees the potential. "Our community could really be a leader in the state, if not the region."
A member of IBJ’s “Forty Under 40” class of 2013, Fadness also is an adjunct professor at IUPUI’s School of Public and Environmental Affairs and is a board member at Alternatives Inc., a Madison County women’s shelter that is working to expand into Hamilton County.
He grew up on a family farm in North Dakota, studying political science at the University of North Dakota and earning a master’s degree in public affairs at Indiana University.
The official campaign filing period doesn’t begin until January, but Fadness is the second likely mayoral candidate to emerge. Longtime Town Council President Walt Kelly kicked off his campaign last month.
Last week, former Greenfield Mayor Brad DeReamer announced he will run for a seat on the Fishers City Council.