Joseph M. Stahura
Mayor of Whiting
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On November 4, 2003, Mayor Joe Stahura became the first former Whiting City Councilman ever to be elected as Mayor of the City of Whiting. Mayor Joe is now serving his 4th term as Mayor following five consecutive terms as Councilman. In January of 2005, Mayor Joe was awarded the Sagamore of the Wabash from then Governor Joe Kernan. In late 2009, his vision of a large scale development of the Whiting lakefront became reality when the City secured over $50 million in financing for the project. The mayor often cites the $19.3 million grant from the Regional Development Authority (RDA) as the single most important event of his tenure as mayor. This grant has opened the door for new development throughout the City. The lakefront project which is now complete, is the largest single public project in the City’s history and is financed totally by grants and industrial tax revenue. On the heels of this investment into the Whiting lakefront, Mayor Joe is now focused on transforming the community into a destination location. Plans for new sports venues, a luxury hotel, lakefront restaurants and multiple museums are currently being discussed. Attracting visitors to Whiting to support the local businesses and new attractions is his primary objective. In 2016, the City began the construction of the new Mascot Hall of Fame (MHOF), a 25,000 square foot world-class children’s museum with a “whacky” mascot theme. Partnering with David Raymond, the original Phillie Phanatic mascot performer, the facility is expected to open it’s doors in late 2018.
The Mayor has been married to his wife Diane (Babinec) for 41 years and they have two daughters, Sheryl and Eileen and three grandchildren, Colin, Reese and Robin. He has been a lifelong resident of Whiting, attended Immaculate Conception grade school and is a 1974 graduate of Whiting High School. He also attended Lakeland College in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. The Mayor worked for the BP (Amoco) Whiting refinery for 22+ years. The Mayor and his wife Diane also owned Cheap Seats Sports Cards, a retail sports collectible store in downtown Whiting until 2010. The Mayor is a member of the Whiting-Robertsdale Chamber of Commerce, the Whiting Knights of Columbus, the Roosevelt Club and the American Slovak Club.
In Mayor Joe’s 1st term as mayor, he championed initiatives to increase public access to city documents such as contracts, budgets, and financial information. Whiting is viewed as the leader in providing such information to its residents. The Mayor also is driving an aggressive agenda to improve the City through economic development initiatives and through government reform. Whiting has been a leader in applying the recommendations suggested by the Maximus Good Government Initiative. In 2006, the BP Whiting Refinery has announced their intentions to invest almost $4 billion to retool and expand their Whiting Refinery. This project is the largest single economic development project in Indiana state history. This project, along with related secondary projects, has dramatically increased the gross tax base of the City of Whiting.
In 2010, Mayor Joe initiated a plan to provide nearly $500,000 in residential facade renovation matching grants to the Whiting Community. The program was reinstated and funded with an additional $250,000 for 2011. The program’s objective was to stimulate investment in the community’s housing stock to increase property values across the City. When the program closed on September 1, 2011, the City issued over $700,000 in grants which resulted in nearly $3 million in rehabilitation investment into Whiting residential properties.
In 2012, Mayor Joe became the first elected official from Lake County to ever be elected as the President of the Indiana Association of Cities and Towns (IACT). Joe also was the first Mayor from the City of Whiting to ever be elected (or want to be elected) as the Chairman of the Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission (NIRPC) in 2008.
During his 20 years as Councilman, he has represented the city as both Councilman-at-Large and as the 1st District Councilman. The Mayor has served as the Council President Pro-Tem, Chairman of both the Police and Fire and the Finance Committees and as a Council Representative to the Plan Commission. As a Councilman, the Mayor has worked to assist various departments in the city to help computerize their day-to-day operations.
Since he was elected, Mayor Joe has been active in many organizations across the state. He believes that Whiting needs and deserves a seat at the table on both regional and state organizations. His leadership has been recognized by his elections and appointments to several key state and regional positions. A brief list of a few key positions is provided below.
- 2017 to Present – AIM Board of Directors
- 2017 to Present – AIM Legislative Committee Member
- 2016 NIRPC Chairman of the Ped, Pedal & Paddle Committee
- 2013 President of the Indiana Conference of Mayors (ICOM)
- 2013 Immediate Past-President of IACT
- 2012 President of the Indiana Association of Cities and Towns (IACT)
- 2011 Vice-President of the Indiana Conference of Mayors (ICOM)
- 2011 Vice-Chair of IACT Municipal Finance Policy Committee
- 2011 Eli Lilly Regional Home State Initiative Champion
- 2011 IACT Community & Economic Development Policy Committee
- 2010 to 2016- IACT Board of Directors
- 2010-2011 NIRPC Chairman Local Government Services Committee
- 2009-2012 – IACT Environmental Policy Committee
- 2009 President of the Northern Mayors Roundtable
- 2009 IACT Kernan-Shepard Task Force Co-Chairman
- 2009 NIRPC Executive Board member
- 2009-2013 Lake County Democratic Central Committee Executive Board
- 2009 IACT Environmental Policy Committee Chairman
- 2008 Chairman Northwestern Indiana Regional Plan Commission (NIRPC)
- 2008 Co-Chairman of the IACT Legislative Committee
- 2008 Vice-President of the Northern Indiana Mayors Roundtable (NIMR)
- 2007 Secretary-Treasurer of the Northern Indiana Mayors Roundtable (NIMR)
- 2006-to Present – Indiana Association of Cities and Towns (IACT) Legislative Committee
Mayor Joe has been blessed to be recognized by his peers and organizations across the state for his efforts as the Mayor of the fine City of Whiting. He is both humbled and appreciative of the recognition and celebrates the recognition with his entire staff and community. A list of awards and achievements are listed below.
Awards & Achievements
- 2016-2017 NWI Society of Innovators Fellow
- 2015 IU SPEA Indiana City Leadership Executive in the Mayors Institute Program
- 2014 IU SPEA Gold Level Certification as an Indiana City Leadership Ambassador
- 2012 IACT Municipal Management Institute Certified Municipal Official Designation (CMO)
- 2012 IACT Municipal Management Institute Level 2-4 Certification
- 2011 Northwest Indiana Society of Innovators Class of 2011-2012
- 2011 James J. Buckley Wall of Fame Inductee
- 2011 IU SPEA Gold Level Certification Advanced City Leadership
- 2010 IACT Russell G. Lloyd Distinguished Service Award
- 2010 IU SPEA Silver Level Certification Advanced City Leadership
- 2010 IU SPEA Bronze Level Certification Advanced City Leadership
- 2010 IACT Municipal Management Institute Level 1 Certification
- 2005 State of Indiana Sagamore of the Wabash
View the Awards and Certifications received by the City of Whiting by clicking here.
- Grow and Diversify our tax base
- Improve the condition of residential & commercial property within the City
- Work to improve the City’s business corridors (Downtown & Indianapolis Boulevard)
- Continue to enhance the Quality of Life in the community
- Develop & implement a plan to address the City’s infrastructure needs
- Implement change to maximize the efficiency of local Government operations
- Review this strategy in greater detail by clicking here.