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(NOBLESVILLE, Ind.) – Noblesville is home to central Indiana’s first officially contested mayor’s race of 2019.

Mayor John Ditslear’s decision to retire after four terms creates an opening in the heavily Republican city. City Council president Chris Jensen announced his candidacy earlier this year, and school board member Julia Kozicki joined the race on Wednesday.

Kozicki says she’s worked with different levels of government and demonstrated an ability to build consensus in three terms on the school board. She says the shooting at Noblesville West Middle School in May demonstrates a need for the city to expand mental-health initiatives, and for leaders to work to reduce the level of anger in community discussions.

And Kozicki says the city should at least look at the possibility of annexing unincorporated territory to the city’s north and east. She says Noblesville has room to become Hamilton County’s largest city by area, and says while it’s not clear that’s the right move, she says the possibility of growing the city’s tax base demands consideration.

Jensen and Kozicki both emphasize downtown development, and in paraticular the need to create more downtown housing. Jensen boasts Noblesville’s historic downtown, bisected by the White River, is a natural asset which neighboring communities have tried to create on their own. He says he’ll be listening to residents’ ideas for a downtown development strategy.

And Jensen says part of that development needs to be better traffic flow through the narrow downtown streets. He says downtown can’t develop if people can’t get through it smoothly.

Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard and Fishers Mayor Scott Fadness have announced they’re running for reelection. Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett has said he’s still deciding.

(Photo: Eric Berman/WIBC)