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Meet the Candidates for Linton mayor: Series looks at views of Wilkes and Hennette

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Mike Hennette
John Wilkes
The Greene County Daily World takes an in-depth look at the Linton mayoral primary race between Democrats Mike Hennette and John Wilkes. This is the first of three stories.

John Wilkes and Mike Hennette are the Democrat Party candidates for Linton Mayor in the May 3 primary election.

Both candidates share a vision for making Linton a better place to live, work and raise a family.

Many people asked both of the candidates to run for the mayor's seat, that is currently being filled by Patti Jones, the widow of the late mayor Tom Jones, who passed away March 3.

"They thought that I would make a good candidate and I had years ago really thought about running for mayor ... Jim Wright was a friend of mine and I never wanted to run against him so I didn't do it," Wilkes said. "This time when it came up, and the number of people that approached me that wanted me to do it, I'm at a place in my business where I am ready to start backing out of that, so I thought it would be a good way to walk out and finish up."

Hennette said he's always liked politics.

"I've always wanted to help people ... and wanting to bring people together where we all can live in harmony. I said two years ago that I wanted to run for mayor. That has been a goal of mine. I've never made any backward steps on that at all. I wanted to see if I could make a difference. I think that is a reason a lot of people get involved in politics."

He continued, "I just find politics intriguing. I just think it's a wonderful thing to do. I enjoy politics. I think it goes back to wanting to give something back to the community and wanting to serve the people."

Wilkes, who's running on a campaign slogan of "Putting Linton First," said his interest in giving back to the community in the form of public service was fostered at a Jaycee meeting years ago.

"I went to a Jaycee meeting one time and the topic was parasites. What it was people living off of the community and people not giving back. That is something that I always thought -- you had to give back. If you look at my record with the things that I've done over the years, there is never been a year or a time when I haven't been involved in something in the community giving back. I thought it was a good time when I got involved with the county council. I thought it was a good time to give back. This way with mayor, I think I have a lot to bring to the table."

Wilkes said his business and county government background are his strong points.

He's been in business for 40 plus years -- owning Mercury Cleaners in both Linton and Bloomfield and is in his third term as a member of the Greene County Council.

Approaching the city budget will be much like the county budget.

"We will be as frugal as we can be. I have plans of taking the budget and doing it the same way we do with the county budget -- in that we will give each department head a copy of the budget to fill out and that budget will come back to us and we will sit down with the council. I want to get the council as involved in this process as I can. We will go through those budgets line by line. I think that is a good way of doing it because there are a lot of things in there that are wants, they are not needs. You know as well as I do any budget has some fat in it so we can do some trimming there."

Hennette said he's also got a strong background in finances and budgeting -- most recently overseeing the county highway department's multi-million budget.

"I bring a diverse background. I've worked with budgets. I've been with budgets ever since I've been in the workforce with Peabody Coal Company with INDOT and with the county highway department. I'm a people person. I like to bring people together and we all work in harmony. I think that is important. I think the mayor's most important job is economic development," Hennette concluded.

Next: The candidates will talk about economic development and tourism.

Meet the Candidates

* Mike Hennette is a 1970 Linton-Stockton High School graduate.

Hennette resigned as county highway department superintendent Sept. 24, 2010, citing a desire to spend more time with his family as a primary reason for his decision to leave the county post.

He started the job January 2009, and had previously served in the same leadership position for three years before retiring at the end of 2005. He previously held a middle management position with Peabody Coal Company for 27 years. Hennette also served as an engineering assistant with the Indiana Department of Transportation.

He's a member of the Linton Masonic Lodge, Scottish Rite in Terre Haute, Zorah Shrine in Terre Haute, Greene County Shrine Club, Linton Elks Lodge, Indiana Association of Highway Superintendents and Highway Engineers, and Association of Indiana Counties.

Hennette is married to Rita (Carrico) Hennette, a former Greene County Recorder

The couple has two sons -- Jason, who is a police officer in the city of Loogootee; and Troy, a school teacher at Pekin Eastern High in Washington County. He also sits on the town council.

* John Wilkes, who owns Mercury Cleaners in Linton and Bloomfield, is starting his third term on the county council. He currently serves as president. He has been heavily involved in the county budget process.

He has lived in Linton since 1967.

Wilkes's wife Carol died in Feb. 2009. He's a member of the Linton Church of Christ and the father of two children, Lynn, and John, who is deceased.

The veteran businessman, who formerly served as president of the Indiana Dry Cleaners Association, has also been active in the Greene County Shrine Club and serves on the Friends of Phil Harris Golf Tournament Committee as well as the Greene County Foundation Weekend Planning Committee that annually oversees the Evening with Roy Clark scholarship benefit show.

He's a 1958 graduate of Dugger High School and also an U.S. Air Force veteran, as well as a member of the Masonic Lodge, Moose Lodge, Elks Lodge, Scottish Rite, Zorah Temple, Greene County Shrine Club, American Legion, Civitan Clothe-A-Child project, Linton Chamber of Commerce, charter member of the Greene County Foundation, one of the original organizers of the Linton Housing Authority, past president and board of directors for the Linton Jaycees and was co-drive chairman of the United Fund for two years.

Wilkes is a Sagamore of the Wabash recipient, and past recipient of the Linton Jaycee of the Year Award and Shrine Club Award for Special Interest in Crippled and Burned Children program. He's also inducted to the Linton-Stockton Chamber of Commence Hall of Fame.

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I like John's outfit better.

-- Posted by switzie on Thu, Mar 31, 2011, at 12:49 PM

If Mike wants to spend more time with his family, he might want to re-consider running for mayor.

-- Posted by great_googly_moogly on Thu, Mar 31, 2011, at 12:50 PM

Go John Wilkes!!! Good luck! I will be voting for you. As long as Patti doesnt run...

-- Posted by redbird08 on Thu, Mar 31, 2011, at 1:06 PM

It's good to have these articles on the Mayor candidates.

However, I have to ask at what point the public is going to have a chance to get answers on specific issues that are and will be faced in the coming term by our fair City.

I am sure both these candidates are upstanding individuals capable of serving as Mayor. But even with that being the case, there are some very tough issues that I believe should be and have to be addressed prior to an election. Not only does making their intentions known do away with big surprises down the road, it also allows a public discussion to help keep citizens feeling they have some say.

A couple examples:

1) Blighted properties

2) Land -use policy

3) Annexation plans

4) Plans for where to cut budget when revenue falls.

5) Plans for changes (if any) on appointed supervisors with the utilities.

6) Candidate's plan on helping to promote and grow our local economy.

7) Volunteer fire department?

8) Ideas on some of our aging infrastructure

These are just a few of the areas that I am sure will be important in the new administration and I also believe now is the time to at least bring them up and perhaps "hold their feet to the fire" in giving their ideas and stances to the Citizens of Linton.

-- Posted by old linton native on Thu, Mar 31, 2011, at 4:43 PM

Each time I see the words blighted properties, I wonder what department is in charge of it, what defines a blighted property, what happens if a property is blighted, who is responsible for enforcing the policy, what happens to the owner of the property, how is the owner notified, etc... More than anything, I would like to see elected officials and other concerned citizens taking a proactive approach by doing some of the work and sponsoring a neighboorhood cleanup day.

-- Posted by livinlinton on Thu, Mar 31, 2011, at 6:41 PM

I'm with old linton native, I'd like to know more about their ideas on the points OLN mentioned and a better description of their style of governing. I imagine like usual Linton's mayoral race will be decided by the primary. I guess we are all Democrats again this year huh?

-- Posted by keninman on Thu, Mar 31, 2011, at 8:55 PM

a.palmer jr., So I take it you prefer monarchs and dictators?

-- Posted by keninman on Fri, Apr 1, 2011, at 5:59 AM

Good luck to John Wilkes....I believe that he has the best interest of Linton in mind and has more experience in dealing with budgets than most.

I hope the Republicans don't run a candidate...or any party for that matter....if they are not required to win or at least participate in a primary where the people can learn something about them.

-- Posted by THE END on Fri, Apr 1, 2011, at 6:20 AM

OLN you opened whole can of worms with your volunteer fire department comment!!!!!!!!!!!!

-- Posted by blacknwhite on Fri, Apr 1, 2011, at 7:16 AM

No Republicans? What's the definition of someone that keeps doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result?

In general, Democrats were once popular because they represented Labor Unions and the Common Man. Something that was applicable to Linton.

Granted Republicans are not without sin, but maybe it's time to re-evaluate just whom Democrats now typically represent or how they are now pertinent to Linton.

But then by now a Republican might have to be imported.

-- Posted by Ex-Pat on Fri, Apr 1, 2011, at 9:35 AM


Did you read the post?

It says that people wanting to be considered for any government position should go through the primary and general election process.

I don't want ANY party leadership selecting my candidates or officeholders, unless it is due to an unexpected event like the passing of Mayor Jones.

-- Posted by THE END on Fri, Apr 1, 2011, at 1:03 PM


Yes, I read the post. I don't disagree with your post. It just doesn't happen to be your post that I'm addressing.

-- Posted by Ex-Pat on Fri, Apr 1, 2011, at 1:22 PM

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