JEFFERSONVILLE — For more than 30 years, Joe Paris has devoted much of his time to the private sector.
Now, he is ready to do his part for the public.
With the resignation of councilperson Callie Payne, Joe Paris became the newest member of Jeffersonville City Council serving District 3 after being sworn in last Thursday.
The Jeffersonville native — who graduated from Indiana University's Kelley School of Business after attending Providence High School — has never served in elected office, but said he is ready to start a new chapter in his life.
“As I’ve gotten older, I’ve seen people around me donate so much of their time to helping others," Paris said. "I’ve done that some with the church I belong to for a number of years. In general, I would like to give back to my community. I’d like to spend my extra time in a different way. So far, it’s been a great learning experience. Coming in brand new, I’m ready to learn any way I can and help in any way I can.”
Up until this point in his life, Paris has focused on his job as a furniture salesman traveling throughout the region. The flexibility of his full-time occupation, Paris said, will allow him to dedicate plenty of attention to his work as a councilperson.
"What’s nice about that is that I’m self-employed, so I make up my own schedule," Paris said. "It allows me to work around things most of the time. I feel like with my background, that'll be helpful."
When Payne resigned effective June 3 because she has moved out of the district, Clark County Republican Chairman Jamey Noel said the decision to appoint Paris to the post was "simple."
"When Callie indicated that she may not run for re-election, Joe’s name came up several times," Noel said. "I didn’t realize it, but I graduated with his sister from Providence. He was a couple years older than me. They’re a very community-minded family. I kept talking to him. He wanted to give back to the community. When Callie resigned, he was just a natural fit.”
What makes Paris such a shoo-in, Noel said, is the mixture of his desire to serve and his business experience.
“He’s very community and public-servant minded," Noel said. "That’s a great plus. He also has a business sense. He’s worked in that area for a while. I like the drive he has, and he wanted to get more involved. Public service isn’t easy, but he’s a great fresh face. With how much Jeffersonville has grown, his mind will be a great addition. I think he’ll be good for it."
Paris said that he had previously expressed his interest in serving in such a position before, so he was happy to finally see it pay it off when he learned he had been caucused into the seat.
“It was wonderful," Paris said. "I talked to Jamey Noel a number of months ago and mentioned I’d like to serve in any way. I gave him my background and how I could help. [With Payne moving out of the district] the seat was going to be open, and it gave me an opportunity."
Moving forward, Paris hopes to stay ahead of the many obstacles faced by growing cities such as Jeffersonville and to maintain its upward trajectory, and he is excited for the challenge.
“River Ridge is the biggest thing I see," Paris said. "It’s really exciting. I feel like it’s our future. Every city has challenges, and you have good people on the council to take care of those. I have a lot of respect for everyone I’ve met on the council. It’s so easy to be on the outside and criticize, but when you get in there, you get a better understanding of what they do. Obviously, there are challenges, but I am confident in our ability to make things better."
Paris will serve the remainder of Payne's term until facing off with Democrat Audrey Baines in the November General Election. Win or lose, Paris said he hopes to continue serving in any capacity for as long as he can.
“I’ve lived here basically my whole life, and I love Jeffersonville," Paris said. "I love Indiana. The main thing I’m going to focus on is spending the money wisely. I like the fact that the council has recently gotten along very well. I’m not a politician. I have no ulterior motives. Right now, my plan is to serve. I hope to continue to serve the rest of my life, either through the community or through the church.”