Columbus mayoral candidates debate Fair Oaks Mall purchase

Columbus voters will be choosing between two candidates for mayor in the May 7th Republican primary — incumbent Mayor Jim Lienhoop and challenger Glenn Petri. We asked the candidates about the city’s recent purchase of the Fair Oaks Mall property.

Petri said he is opposed. He said he and The Republic newspaper only found a few examples of local governments buying shopping centers. In one, a city bought a mall, quickly declared it a mistake and sold it to a developer.

Lienhoop said he believes this is a good decision for the city and will be a good addition to the city parks system.

There have been no Democrats file to run for the mayor’s office.

Lienhoop, 65, is currently serving as mayor and formerly worked in accounting. His wife is Pam and they have two adult children and a son in law. He earned his bachelor’s degree in business with an accounting concentration from Indiana University in Bloomington. The mayor previously served on the City Council both winning office as an at-large council member and filling in for former councilman Craig Hawes, when Hawes was serving overseas. The mayor is a member of St. Peters Lutheran Church. In his official role as mayor he says he is involved in many community organizations but also is proud to have been a co-founder of the Olympian Quarterback Club. He also served on the board of the United Way and of the Heritage Fund.

Petri, 69, is retired although he says he still keeps a couple of customers as more of a hobby than a job. His wife has passed away. He has a son and daughter, and two grand children. He has a degree from Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville in natural sciences with a specialization in urban planning. He has run for city and Bartholomew County Council before but not been elected.