Evansville’s Republican mayoral candidates discuss platforms ahead of primary

Evansville’s Republican mayoral candidates discuss platforms ahead of primary
Published: Apr. 7, 2023 at 4:23 PM CDT
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EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - We are less than a month away from the Indiana primaries.

The Evansville mayoral race is heating up, with two candidates looking win the Republican primary - Natalie Rascher and Cheryl Musgrave.

For the first time in 12 years, sitting Mayor Lloyd Winnecke’s name won’t be on the ballot, and the two candidates looking to replace him on the Republican side have a wide difference in government experience.

[Previous: Mayoral candidates hold forum at Rotary meeting, Libertarian candidate joins race]

Musgrave has spent years in politics, serving Vanderburgh County in a number of roles, including a decade as assessor, then three terms as a county commissioner.

“I have experience,” Musgrave said. “Experience in government, experience in managing personnel and experience in managing budgets. The current county commission budget is $25 million on an annual basis. My opponent has never been entrusted with a single dollar of budgets by her employers.”

Rascher prides herself on not being a career politician, but instead coming from the private sector.

“I’ve always done more of the administrative, HR, strategic planning, talent development work,” Rascher said. “That skill set really lends itself to the mayoral office.”

The candidates have two different careers, two different backgrounds and two differing views on the state of the city.

“I’ll be starting my term with a police department that is in crisis, a building commission that is in crisis, and parks that are in crisis,” Musgrave said. “I will clean up the mess that’s been left behind.”

“Whenever I’m looking at the city as a whole, and what I’m potentially inheriting, it’s opportunity,” said Rascher. “If I came in and had this gloom and doom attitude and said that everything is wrong, and we need to fix this and that, and it’s a big mess. I don’t think people can get behind that kind of leadership.”

Rascher has put together a playbook for the city, with her plans on what she wants to address.

It includes, economic development opportunities, quality of life, talent retention and infrastructure.

“I’m currently a remote employee, and my husband is as well,” Rascher said. “We have the opportunity to move anywhere in the nation if we wanted, but we choose to stay here in Evansville, not just because it’s our home town, but we see the value in our city, in our region, we want to raise our children here.”

Musgrave says the parks are in need of major improvement, and wants to simplify building regulations to make development an easier process.

“We have a lot of building regulations here, and we need to make sure those regulations do not eat up time and money,” Musgrave said.

Both candidates have public safety as a top priority.

“In the past five years, the murder rate has tripled,” said Musgrave. “At the same time that the organized crime murders is rising, the number of staff in the organized crime section of the police department has dropped.”

“What kind of services can the city provide to help reduce those crime rates? It’s not just increase patrol,” Rascher said. “I think that’s where we all tend to go whenever we’re thinking about crime, but looking at where we can find partnerships, where there’s community centers that we could extend the hours, maybe additional funding that’s available so individuals have a safe place to go.”

Musgrave wants more police officers, more respect for police, and more firearms training.

Rascher believes in a team approach to deter crime.

“There is never been an accomplishment that I have made in my professional career that has been just me, and that’s no one,” said Rascher. “Unfortunately we’ve had fentanyl enter our community. I think mental health is something that we really need to focus in on as a community, too. Those things can’t be done by the mayor alone.”

“Public safety is at the core, also the parks department,” Musgrave said about her campaign platform. “The parks are in basically a crisis situation.”

When asked if parks and public safety are fixed with new policy or perhaps new personnel, Musgrave said, “It’s a combination of both of those things, and reviewing budgets, and searching for additional funding.”

The Indiana Primary is Tuesday, May 2.

Early voting is underway in Evansville.