Former City Engineer announces he will run for Mayor of Terre Haute in 2019

A man who calls himself an unconventional candidate will run for the top office of Terre Haute.

Posted: Jan 5, 2018 3:44 PM
Updated: Jan 5, 2018 9:09 PM

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) - A man who calls himself an unconventional candidate will run for the top office of Terre Haute.

It may be the 2018 election season, but we've already had our first announcement for the 2019 election. That election will include all Terre Haute City Council seats as well as the mayor.

The name Pat Goodwin should ring a bell with most News 10 viewers, especially if you've lived in Terre Haute long enough. He's a former City Engineer that served in three administrations, most recently the Kevin Burke administration.

Goodwin now runs an E-Commerce business in Terre Haute. Goodwin said decided to run for mayor last month, and he said there's no reason why he should wait to announce his candidacy.

He has three main priorities that need fix immediately, if he's elected: Getting the city's finances in order, transparency and efficiency.

"I want to overhaul the way local government runs,” Goodwin said. “Until we make some significant strides in these three areas, city government will continue to be a drag on this community's success."

Below is Goodwin’s full announcement he made on Friday:

My name is Pat Goodwin. Today I am excited to announce that I will run for Mayor of Terre Haute in the 2019 election. I am starting a 22-month process of making the case to voters that I am the best person for the job. I will share my views and plans on city government issues. I hope to convince voters that I have the knowledge, experience, integrity, and leadership skills to move our community forward.

Who am I?

I’m a lifelong resident of Terre Haute. I attended local public schools - Lost Creek Elementary, Woodrow Wilson Jr. High and Terre Haute North - and then earned a civil engineering degree from Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology.

I spent most of my early career as an engineer for the city of Terre Haute. In 1999 I earned my Professional Engineer’s license, and thereafter worked as City Engineer for three different mayors. During my time there, we modernized the department, increased project output, and developed rating systems to more effectively maintain city infrastructure. We developed the community’s first computerized pavement and sidewalk management systems. We implemented the geographical information system (GIS), known as Beacon. We rewrote and modernized the city building codes. We streamlined and computerized building inspection management.

On the construction front, I oversaw the first trail projects in the community. We completed the construction of South 13th Street, North First Street, Locust Street, Hulman Street, and South 4th Street. We developed the studies and plans that would eventually lead to the construction of Brown Boulevard, Margaret Avenue improvements, and the Fruitridge Avenue realignment.

At the end of 2007 I left my position with the city to pursue a private engineering practice. I led several projects, including the construction of a new wastewater treatment facility for St. Mary-of-the-Woods. In 2011, I became the Chief Operating Officer for the Sisters of Providence, where I led a difficult but successful process of efficiency improvements coupled with budget and staff reduction.

In 2013, I founded Tractor Tools Direct, an e-commerce company that sells ag equipment to small farms all over the United States. The company has rapidly grown to be the largest of its kind in the country. As president of Tractor Tools Direct, I manage contracts, finances, customer service, and a growing staff.

I’m married to Marti Livengood Goodwin, who is also a lifelong resident of Vigo County.
We have four children ranging in age from 12 to 19 years old and we live in the Collett Park neighborhood.

Why am I Running?

People are fed up with politics as usual in Terre Haute, and so am I. I’m proud to be part of a growing group that is showing up to public meetings and demanding change.

Local government needs an overhaul. Over the last several years, we’ve all watched as city finances have gone down the toilet. Politicians have routinely tried to hide their actions from the public. Infighting has prevented collaboration. There has been an overall lack of leadership.

I’ve been pushing harder for change in the last few years, trying to shed light on some of these problems, while suggesting better ways of moving our community forward. I started a Facebook page in 2014 called Terre Haute Inquiries, or “THinq” for short, dedicated to sharing information about how our tax dollars are being spent.

These efforts have helped to slow or stop some ill-conceived projects like the sludge-to-diesel fiasco, but many other projects and backroom negotiations continue in a cloud of secrecy. Meanwhile, city government continues to rack up debt while services decline.

Only so much can be done from the outside. I want to do everything I can to change Terre Haute for the better. I believe I can most effectively do that as Mayor.

What are my qualifications?

In general, what are the qualifications to be a good mayor?

A successful mayor will have a thorough knowledge of how local government works. As city engineer under three different mayors, I learned the mechanism of local government. I learned how budgets are created and accounted; how boards function and what their responsibilities are; what processes are required to accomplish different functions, and what a mayor does and does not have the legal authority to do.

A mayor will have relevant executive experience. I have led organizations of many different types - an engineering department, a nonprofit organization, and now a small business. I understand the importance of a good team structure, accountability, and clear and frequent communication with staff.

A mayor should demonstrate strong leadership. In my experiences, I have provided a vision for organizations to follow. I have set goals, and empowered my staffs to achieve them. I have provided an honest assessment of the status and outlook of organizations, and laid out the steps that needed to be taken for those organizations to succeed. I have been willing to make difficult decisions that were necessary in order to move those organizations forward.

Lastly, a mayor should possess and demonstrate integrity. Integrity means having consistent moral standards. Honesty is a critical part of integrity, but it is not enough. A mayor must resist the temptation to use the office for personal gain. A mayor must always be ethical. As a professional engineer, I adhere to a code of ethics that says, among other things, “Engineers shall hold paramount the safety, health and welfare of the public”. I take that pledge very seriously.

What are the issues?

Terre Haute’s finances are a wreck. The mayor says he is balancing the budget, yet he keeps taking out loans. Bond ratings have tanked, meaning higher interest on those loans. Cash balances have dwindled. Money intended to build new infrastructure is instead being “pooled” to cover day-to-day city bills.

Mayor Bennett’s only solution to tight finances is to add more fees and taxes. Since his reelection in 2015, he has proposed a sewer rate increase, a trash fee, a stormwater fee, fire department inspection fees, and he supports an income tax hike.

Too much city business takes place behind closed doors. As a result, people don’t trust that the Mayor is working in their best interests. The mayor has even hired and paid vendors without valid contracts or public bidding, in violation of state law.

The City looks dingy. Roads and sidewalks aren’t being maintained. City parks do only basic maintenance. Streets aren’t cleaned regularly. Condemned buildings sit for months with no action. These basic city services have completely fallen off the current mayor’s priority list.

What do I want to accomplish?

On day 1, I will begin addressing the following:
1. Financial Stability. We will get the City’s finances back on track, without adding new taxes or fees. The current city budget is completely out of balance, with total spending increasing every year while basic services are neglected.
2. Transparency. I will make city government’s business totally open to its citizens. Technology should make this easier than ever, yet more and more seems to be hidden from public view.
3. Efficiency. I will seek opportunities to reduce cost and improve service to taxpayers. We’ll embrace technology. We’ll cooperate with other government agencies and share resources whenever possible. We’ll borrow the best ideas from successful communities. I will improve accountability, so that more gets done with the resources we have.

In short, I want to overhaul the way local government runs. Until we make significant strides in these three areas, city government will continue to be a drag on this community’s success.

What party do I represent?

I will run as an independent. No political party represents my beliefs or can lay claim to the best vision for our future. Many people feel the way I do, that no political party is a good fit for them. Most of us have difficulty even defining what the parties stand for any more. At the local level, the delivery of city services is non-partisan.

I will be an unconventional candidate, running an unconventional campaign.

There will be many times over the coming months that my friends and supporters, especially those with political experience, will worry that I’m not following the well-beaten path of former successful politicians. They’ll be afraid that I am jeopardizing my chances of being elected by being truthful and candid with voters.

I tell those supporters that I must remain true to my convictions. I don’t want voters to be surprised when I take office - I want them to know well what my plans for our city are. If they do not like those plans, they will elect someone else. But I do not intend to be elected by fooling voters into thinking I am someone I am not.

How can you help?

Visit my website, goodwinforterrehaute.com, and sign up with your email address. This will help our campaign stay in touch with you on upcoming events and issues. While you are there, you can volunteer or make a donation.

You can also visit and like our Facebook page, Goodwin For Terre Haute. Once you like the page, you’ll see our posts and videos. If you like what you see, share with friends.

You can join a group like the Taxpayers Association, the League of Women Voters, or other grassroots groups that have been more recently established. These groups are invigorating voters and helping to educate the general public on important issues.

You can invite me to come speak with your club or organization. I’ll be ready to listen to your concerns, answer questions, and discuss any city issues that interest you.

Please get involved. Over the next three years, every single elected position in Vigo County will be on the ballot. Run for an office, or support candidates who pledge better transparency and cooperation in local government. Attend debates and public candidate forums. Write your elected officials and let them know what is important to you. Show up to public meetings where big decisions are being made about our community’s future.

We have an incredible opportunity in 2018, 19, and 20, to really change this community for the better. It will take a sustained effort from a lot of people to be successful.

Closing Remarks

My plan is to take office January 1, 2020, ready to get to work. I have the experience, skills, energy, ideas, and integrity to turn this city’s fortunes around. Terre Haute can have a government that is efficient, effective, and accountable. This is a job I’ve prepared for my whole life, and I am ready to tackle it. I hope you’ll join me.

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