On Aug. 17, Mayor Anita Werling was appointed to office when former mayor Shane Evans resigned to become Carroll County Deputy Prosecutor. Her appointment marks the second woman to ever hold the position of mayor in Delphi history.
Mayor Werling was originally from Evansville, Indiana. After graduating high school, she went to college at IU Bloomington to study nursing. Despite her original major, she ended up with degrees in education and library sciences. Most of her career was spent in education and database publishing, but later on she became a consultant in marketing and strategic planning. Her career took her all around the United States; she lived in Oregon, New Jersey, Michigan, Chicago, and Louisville. When she retired, she moved to Delphi.
Mayor Werling came to Delphi in 2005. “I am an outsider, but I have not been treated as one,” she said. Though she was technically retired when she moved here, she took a leading role in the Delphi Preservation Society, particularly in the project to restore the Delphi Opera House. Until COVID hit back in March, you could always find her there whenever an event was happening. “If I’m being honest, my favorite thing about Delphi is the Opera House,” she stated.
When Mayor Werling was asked to take the position, her initial reaction was “No way!” However, as time went on and more people started to come to her about the opportunity, she realized that she was going to say “yes.” She stated, “As more and more people approached me about putting my name in, I realized that many were concerned—as was I—that the progress made by the City in the last several years might be at risk.” In the end, she took the opportunity and was selected by Delphi’s Common Council to become Delphi’s new mayor.
Mayor Werling took office in the middle of not only the COVID crisis, but the budget deliberations and an ongoing water project as well. Gaining office at such a chaotic time has not hindered her excitement for the assignment at all though. “This is really an exciting position to be in, especially since Delphi has so much going on right now,” she stated.
Despite the COVID crisis, Mayor Werling is optimistic about our community’s small businesses. “Delphi was a leader in providing a grant program for our local businesses that helped them to maintain during the time of the shutdown,” she stated. “We have not lost a single business in Delphi during the COVID crisis.” In fact, regardless of the financial risks related to opening a business at this time, many young entrepreneurs have come back to Delphi to do just that: Healthies just opened in downtown and a coffee shop is coming soon. Mayor Werling would also like to see a hotel come into Delphi. She stated, “People come to Delphi for school events, for sports events, and they have no place to stay, so they leave and go to Lafayette or Monticello, and their money goes with them. If we could keep that in our community, that would be great.”
One of Mayor Werling’s big goals is to find a way to increase youth involvement in community activities. “I’d love to see us doing some murals downtown, so maybe some art classes could get involved. Maybe we could have some concerts on the square with our high school band.” Another thing she would like to see is a youth advisory council that works with the mayor and the Board of Works. “I would like to see youth getting more involved in advising what you’d like to see happening in the future, what we can do to get you to come back to Delphi after you go to college or trade school.”
Mayor Werling believes that the youth of today hold a big role in the future of our community. “We’ve got great potential in all of you students as you come up and grow up. It’s amazing for our community to have such excellent students that make the community more enjoyable,” she said. Due to her work at the Delphi Opera House these past few years, she has been able to hear all of the DCHS students’ “This I Believe” speeches. She stated, “I’ve been able to listen to This I Believe over the past few years, and I am just in awe of all of you students.” She is especially proud of the DCHS students now, during all the regulations for COVID. She stated, “I cannot imagine what it was like to be a senior last year, or even a high school student this year . . . but we will get through this.”
Right now, Mayor Werling believes that we, as a community, need to persevere. “We’re going to get past this. Every challenge, every problem that we face, creates an opportunity. I feel we’re going to come back from this stronger than we were before,” she stated.