Mayor-elect hopes to keep business politics out of city office

The West Lafayette mayor-elect doesn't think the city should be run like a business.

"City isn't a business," said Jan Mills, the West Lafayette Democrat who won a tight race, 52 to 48 percent, against Republican challenger Nola Gentry. "It provides services that should be maintained in the most frugal, cost-efficient way."

Mills, who served as Common Council president last term, said she's excited to take over the position vacated by Sonya Margerum, who will be retiring after 24 years of service as mayor.

"It's going to be a lot more work," Mills said. "I have lots to learn. I've learned a lot from Sonya, but I will probably be more hands-on in the beginning of my term."

Mills said she hopes to continue the progress Margerum's administration has made and said the input she received from voters was positive.

"The main thing we heard was that the city was in great shape; they love what we've done," she said. "We're working to make West Lafayette the best place to live."

After her second unsuccessful bid for mayor, Gentry said she would be taking some time off and returning to her positions at the Museum at Prophetstown and the YWCA.

"I'm taking a few days to catch up on some other work," she said. "We ran a good campaign and raised a lot of issues."

She hopes that Mills will look at what they talked about, especially making the city services more efficient. The 2004 Common Council includes three Republicans, one more than last term, something Gentry sees as positive.

"The members of my Republican team will keep talking about the issues," she said. "Keeping the tax rates low will be the key to West Lafayette."

Mills said she would do her best to do just that. "None of us want to pay any more (taxes) than we have to," she said. "Right now, I think we're in a great situation."

Patti O'Callaghan, who was elected to an at-large Common Council seat, said Mills has already built the relationships it takes to run a city well. Mills said she would continue to build them, especially within the Purdue community.

"(Purdue) president (Martin) Jischke is wonderful — very community-oriented," Mills said. "Relations between Purdue and the city are going to be great."

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