Having lived in Jackson County since 1979, Gary Drake said he never had considered becoming involved in government.
Matt Smith recently had to resign from his Ward 3 seat on the Brownstown Town Council because he was moving to another ward.
Smith asked around to see who might be interested in applying. One of the people he talked to was Drake.
After giving it some thought, Drake filed for the position and wound up being the only candidate.
He recently was sworn in by Jackson County Republican Party chairwoman Amanda Lowery, and a week later, he attended his first meeting as a councilman.
“I’m retired, and I have a lot of free time, and so mainly, I just thought it would be something interesting to do and at the same time would be a good way to give back to the community,” he said.
“I thought this would be a good way to serve and get to know some folks. If I can do something good for the community and be of service, then that’s a good thing,” he said. “That was really my only primary motivation or objective was just to try to be a help. The community has always been very good to me. I’ve lived here for a long time, so it just seemed like it would be a good fit for me.”
Drake, 65, will finish out Smith’s term through the end of 2019. That seat will be on the municipal election ballot in November 2019.
The Columbus native graduated from Columbus High School in 1971 and began working for Cummins Inc. the following year.
He remained with the engine company for nearly 37 years, retiring in March 2009.
Through the years, he said he worked in different areas, including serving as a team leader and a gauge lab technician.
“In the workplace, your primary focus is to try to meet customer needs first and foremost and work in a communicative fashion to best provide service or a product, and so you do learn some skills in how to get things done and how to coordinate work,” Drake said. “As a team leader, I had to coordinate work to one degree or another, but I was always fortunate I had good people to work with, so it was pretty rewarding.”
Drake expects that experience to help in his service on the town council.
“Trying to be of service to the citizens of this community is how I see one of the primary duties of this position, so just trying to do what’s in the best interest of everyone and trying to do it as fairly and appropriately as possible and quite frankly in just a common sense manner,” he said.
Drake said he looks forward to working with the other four council members.
“It would appear to me, just based on the first meeting, everyone here is trying to do a good job, trying to serve the community, trying to keep the interest of the community first and foremost, and that’s a good thing,” he said. “I’m very happy to be a part of that.”
Being new to a governmental position, Drake said he realizes he has a lot to learn.
“I pretty much consider everyone here my mentor at this point because they are all experienced,” he said. “I know Sharon (Koch) has not been on the board very long, but I think the rest of the folks have, so my presumption is that I will learn as I go from them and just try to be of service as best I can. It will be an ongoing learning process, I’m sure.”
He is ready, willing and able to serve.
“I look forward to the opportunity to serve the community, and I’m hoping to do a good job for the town of Brownstown,” he said. “I sense that I have very good people to work with, and I’m just looking forward to being able to give something back and serve the community in that capacity.”
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Name: Gary Drake
Education: Columbus High School (1971); vocational courses through Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis while working for Cummins Inc.
Occupation: Retired after nearly 37 years working for Cummins Inc.
Family: Wife, Sylvia Drake; sons, David Drake and Aaron Drake; six grandchildren