Lebanon Mayor Matt Gentry announced that his third term, which he will begin in January, will be his last term as he prepares Lebanon for new leadership in 2028.
Gentry secured victory in the 2023 Municipal Election Republican Primary in May this year over Kevin Van Horn with 58.98% of the vote before running unopposed in the general election where he received 816 votes. Gentry announced on the #LovinLebanon podcast that he will not seek a fourth term in 2027, and he thanked the citizens of Lebanon for casting their ballot for him for the past two terms going into his third term.
“I’m humbled for the citizens of Lebanon to re-elect me,” Gentry said. “I was opposed in the primary, so the voters did have a chance there. (I’m) honored to have the people’s vote.”
Gentry stated that while he was unopposed in the general election this year, he kept a close eye on the results of the city council races as he formulated his plans for the next four years that he will serve as mayor.
“We did have some contested city council races, so that was something that I was keeping an eye on and watching, but I think, generally speaking, when you have a situation where people are unopposed, it kind of indicates that people are generally happy with the direction the community’s going,” Gentry said. “That’s reassuring, and let’s keep things marching forward.”
Gentry commented that he has officially confirmed that his third term will be his last, but he stated that he intends to continue his promises and his vision for Lebanon in preparation for the new leadership expected to take the office in 2028.
“I have announced that my third term will be my last and final term, so I know for me, I see the checkered flag ahead of me, and I want to keep pushing and keep all that great momentum we have in Lebanon going forward and really set the stage for whoever–she or he–whoever will be the next Mayor of Lebanon,” Gentry said. “(I want to) put them in a great position to keep Lebanon moving forward and have it keep succeeding here.”
Gentry stated that his campaign for the 2023 election was slightly different from previous campaigns due to the circumstances of his life evolving to include his wife and two children, but he maintained his thoughts that door-knocking and meeting the community of Lebanon was pivotal to his campaign.
“My life’s changed a little bit,” Gentry said. “I was a single guy back then, so the only person I had to convince to do it was myself. I’m obviously now married, two kids under four, so (it’s) a busy time … we still knocked on doors this time. In the primary, (we) still talked to people. I still believe that the best way to run a campaign is knock on people’s doors, talk to people face to face, tell them what your vision is, tell them what your goals are.”
Gentry did not state the exact reasons behind his decision to depart from the Mayor’s Office after his third term, but he further confirmed the decision by stating that his move from Meridian Street and his disposal of his campaign signs have further cemented his realization that the next four years will be his last in the Mayor’s Office.
“I moved recently from North Meridian Street,” Gentry said. “As we were unloading the garage where I keep all my yard signs because I don’t buy new yard signs every four years because they just cost a lot of money, they didn’t make the new house. Then, we drove by the old Street Department site and threw those suckers in the recycling, so they did not even make the trip.”
Gentry expressed that his past two terms have been a success for his vision where he began with a focus on the downtown area as a means of improving the entirety of Lebanon by association, and now he is planning to focus on the gateways of Lebanon to further improve the entirety of the city.
“The first term was very much downtown focused, the second term was very much quality of place, trails, parks, the LEAP District kinda got thrown in on there at the end,” Gentry said. “For this next term, really I’m thinking about corridors. That’s a big thing for me. What do we do to improve the gateways into Lebanon? I think we’ve in the past looked at that of how do we try and improve those.”
In 2020, Gentry announced his “light the night” initiative, which was derailed and paused due to the pandemic, and he stated his intentions to reevaluate the initiative and possibly bring the campaign to fruition over the next four years to reduce crime rates and increase community bonds with the help of the Lebanon neighborhoods.
“What’s our strategy about using street lighting to address crime, address making community more connected, more visible, safer for everybody,” Gentry. “Certainly, I think there’s some low-hanging fruit there that we could kind of start that process and take a neighborhood by neighborhood approach.”
Gentry announced that he is crafting a survey intended to allow the community of Lebanon to express their opinions on various subjects, such as traffic on State Road 39, which Gentry stated could become a focus of relinquishment from the state as a resolution to the problem dependent upon the public’s voices.
Gentry did not state his plans following the conclusion of his third term as the Mayor of Lebanon.