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Sakbun plans to leverage tourism, universities in Terre Haute

Terre Haute mayor-elect details plans

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Terre Haute’s new mayor told News 8 he wants the world to know his city is open for business.

Democrat Brandon Sakbun pulled off a political upset on Nov. 7 when he defeated four-term incumbent Mayor Duke Bennett, a Republican. Terre Haute was the second-largest city in Indiana in which the Democratic Party was able to take control of the mayor’s office from the Republican Party. In an interview for All INdiana Politics, Sakbun said his message succeeded because he focused on issues that affect everyone, such as sidewalks and economic development.

Sakbun said he plans to look into ways to improve the street department and the city’s responsible bidding ordinance as soon as he takes office. He also wants to work with officials in other cities to present a unified front on behalf of Vigo County and west-central Indiana at the Statehouse when lawmakers begin their next session. Looking over the longer term, he said he wants to draw in more businesses, as well as tourism. He said Terre Haute Casino Resort, scheduled to open in the spring, represents one opportunity to draw more tourism dollars to the region. He also plans to work closely with the city’s universities, including Indiana State University and Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology.

Sakbun is the son of Cambodian and Jamaican immigrants, and a veteran of the U.S. Army’s elite 75th Ranger Regiment. He said both experiences imbued him with a love of his country, as well as the skills to set ambitious goals and meet them.

“(My parents) really instilled that love for the American Dream, for public service, in me at a young age, as well as this community,” said Sakbun.

All INdiana Politics airs at 9:30 a.m. Sunday.