Ryan Cannon Enjoying Role As Avon Town Manager
Photographer / Amy Payne
When Ryan Cannon was in college, he did a summer internship with the City of Indianapolis where he worked for the Department of Public Works. He graduated from Indiana University one semester later. After graduating, he got a call from his internship boss, Tom Klein, who had since left the City of Indianapolis and was working as the town manager in Avon.
“Want to come work for me?” Klein asked.
Cannon jumped at the chance and in January of 1999 became the assistant to the town manager, which translated to doing whatever projects needed to be done. In that first year he created the town’s first website, and since the town maintained its own streets, he became the ad hoc public works department.
“I started at the very bottom, picking up dead animals on the road and installing street signs,” Cannon says. “It was an interesting way to start, but at the time we didn’t have employees. We didn’t have a street department. I had to be creative and find ways to get things done.”
He contracted with various people to do pothole patching, street sign installation, paving and snow removal. Fifteen years ago, with plenty of experience under his belt, he officially became the public works director, and he embraced the challenge of completing projects that were in his wheelhouse.
“I’m very self-motivated and love seeing the things that I’ve accomplished, so for instance, doing the Avon Avenue bridge was a huge project in the community,” Cannon says. “That’s one of the things I like about living here – getting to drive around and use the things I’ve accomplished like the roundabout near Avon High School.”
Cannon became the assistant town manager before transitioning into the town manager role several months ago, after Klein vacated the position. When Cannon graduated from IU, his hope was to eventually become a town manager, but he didn’t know if that was a realistic long-term goal since there are so few town manager jobs available – especially in Indiana. Though he considered relocating to find a job, he really liked the Avon community and felt compelled to stay.
“I moved a lot growing up because of my dad’s job,” says Cannon, who was born in Cleveland, Ohio, then lived in Denver before relocating to Chicago, then Savannah, and finally Indianapolis. When he and his wife moved to Avon in 2003, they wanted to put down roots.
“I love the convenience of the town and the fact that in two minutes I can get to anything I want to,” Cannon says.
He also adores the people of Avon.
“They are very grounded,” Cannon says. “Most of them have had to work hard to get to where they are and I appreciate that about them. They don’t take things for granted. Plus, they’re just really friendly and kind.”
After working in this career for more than two decades, Cannon finds the range of topics local government tackles interesting.
“I had a lady call us one time because she had crickets in her yard and wanted to know what the town was going to do for her,” Cannon says with a smile. “On the other end of the spectrum, we are dealing with things like widening [County Road] 100 South, an $18.5 million project that will spur $130 million of economic development. It’s so interesting that in a single day we can tackle something so massive and something so minuscule, but even those small things are important to those who live here.”
Cannon and his wife Colleen have two daughters, Chloe, 14, and Paige, 11. The family has no pets, and he jokes about this being a sore subject in his household, as his kids have been strongly hinting that this is the perfect time to adopt a pup. However, he insists that the family is too busy during normal times to juggle dog ownership, as the girls are both involved in sports that require travel. Chloe plays tennis, Paige plays kickball and volleyball, and both girls play basketball.
“Most of our weekends and free time are spent doing sports,” Cannon says. “We also like to walk the trails in Avon and do the story walks whenever the library puts up new stories.”
When they do get some down time, the family often travels to Indian Shores, Florida, just south of Clearwater, where they spend time on the beach.
“It’s so peaceful,” Cannon says. “The kids also love to go do Disney World.”
Their plan was to visit Disney World over fall break, but like much of the rest of the world, they had to pivot.
“We’ve all laid out all these great plans and then a day or two later, we have had to scrap them all,” Cannon says. “This pandemic is so strange because life seems so normal in some ways, but in other ways so different. When you drive around or take a walk outside, it doesn’t feel any different and yet so much has changed.”
Some things never change, however, like solid advice from a sage family member. Cannon’s grandfather was an Irish immigrant.
“He came over and dug ditches so my dad always advised me to work hard,” Cannon says. “I have, and I’m proud of that.”
In fact, when the Town Council members interviewed him, he told them that they would be hard-pressed to find anyone else who would work as hard as he does.
“I’m also fortunate to surround myself with people who have that same work ethic,” Cannon says.