Below is an issues questionaire focused on Indianapolis from my run for City County Council a year ago. Many of those issues remain today and you can see much of what is at the heart of my focus on jobs, availability and accountability, and urban issues.
Regional mass transportation and the Indy Connect proposal have been hot topics lately; how do you support the concept of a comprehensive and regional transportation system?
In 2009 I attempted to go the entire year without a car. Having travelled all over the world with the opportunity to use some of the best (and worst) public transit systems, I wanted to give it a shot. I made it to the end of the summer before I bought a motorcycle. I made it until the first day below 20 degrees in December before I decided I needed a car. While I made it until February 2010 before actually buying one, I recognized at the onset how a comprehensive regional transit system would be extremely helpful.
When IndyConnect was announced, I had very high expectations. The proposed light rail along Washington St. would get me to the Wal-Mart and the airport! Unfortunately Washington St. and most light rail plans were postponed in the first incarnation of IndyConnect, but the spirit is still there. I recently attended a legislative session hosted by the Indy Chamber and had the opportunity to “test out” a Bus Rapid Transit coach and I was pleasantly surprised.
I feel strongly that an effective pitch for funding for IndyConnect must come from the private sector with the City adding the support. One cohesive message – rather than each interested party speaking to each owns agenda – is necessary to get voter approval for funding. I would point to the New Wishard campaign as a prime example of how to do this. I can’t wait to be part of this push!
What are your top three priorities if elected?
Strengthening neighborhoods and their initiatives (forming associations, public safety, abandoned homes, potholes, etc.), helping small businesses form and grow by eliminating red tape and working as a partner in that effort, being the most accessible and accountable City County Councilor in Indianapolis.
Strained budgets and decreasing tax revenues have made things difficult for elected officials; how would you plan to balance current and future spending needs vs. negatively impacting citizens, businesses and property owners?
We’re in recovery, but Indianapolis continues to remain strong due to our ability to live within our means with our City budget. I deal with the realities of one of the smallest budgets in state government, and we continue to turn out top-rate customer service, forward thinking technological advancements, and an increasingly professional staff with scant resources. Cut unnecessary spending, tighten our bootstraps, and reward cost-cutting ideas = a recipe for fiscal prudence without costing citizens, businesses and property owners.
How do you plan to achieve growth in your community that enhances the quality of life?
Helping small businesses form and grow leads to more jobs. Strengthening neighborhoods leads to better self-policing and less crime. Government needs to assist these efforts while not getting in the way. You give somebody a job and a safe route to walk home and enhanced quality of life follows.
Thriving communities depend on quality infrastructure. How do you plan to meet these current and future needs in your community?
I am dedicated reader of the IBJ’s Property Lines blogs and real estate stories. Quality projects are the key to building our city – not fly-by-night ones like the De Rimini development that is the ire of most visitors to the Urban Indy blog. Quality projects follow quality infrastructure provided by the City. RebuildIndy is an amazing opportunity to escape the vicious cycle of neglecting our sidewalks and streets with superficial fixes. Our Cultural Trail will continue to spur development (though I wish it followed Indiana Avenue on which I live to develop the historic jazz corridor).
Without a solid foundation, nothing of substance can be built. RebuildIndy has given us this necessary solid footing, and increased revenue from our parking meter deal will allow us to maintain it for decades to come. I will be critical of any project that does not meet our vision for a next generation city. More public transit! More pedestrian-friendly retail corridors, and less surface lots getting in the way of future growth!
Many issues impacting our communities such as crime, transportation and environmental issues are not limited by political jurisdictions. How do you plan to address some of these types of regional issues?
While I am running to finally give District 15 a voice on the Council, I am acquainted with the sitting Councilors, and prepared to work with them to tackle the big issues facing the city. I live in District 15, but the whole of Indianapolis is my home and I want to see the entire city thrive. I explain this to my voters during every meeting and they agree.
As an elected official, what would you do to retain, expand and attract businesses in order to increase jobs and income?
I’m going to point to the obvious – lower taxes – as the first step. I want to make it easy to form and grow a business in Indianapolis. I want businesses to know the City actually cares about their success. I recently attended the first-ever meeting of the Indiana Venture Club and the VergeIndy startup group at an innovation summit. These are locally grown businesses and investors, and I was the only City County Council candidate present. That attitude must change.
The quality of life in a community is driven by many factors such as the quality of schools, the perceptions of crime/public safety, property taxes, the availability of parks and recreation, proximity to shopping and so on. What are your plans to maintain and enhance the quality of life in your community?
I want to empower and work with neighborhoods to improve their quality of life by providing the resources and attention to do so. This comes with helping small businesses form in those communities, helping keep the streets safe, and eliminating blight while enhancing beauty through careful and thoughtful infrastructure improvements. I support local organizations like the People for Urban Progress who work to identify investors in public spaces that serve our communities, the 10point Coalition and their marches against crime, and local groups like VergeIndy that want to see our city become the next Silicone Valley. I will be a partner (and an active one) with these and countless other organizations.
How would you describe the state of your community’s neighborhoods and housing? What issues need to be addressed and what would you propose?
We effectively haven’t had a City County Councilor actually representing District 15 in over ten years. As a result, my community’s neighborhood associations feel neglected, we’ve lagged behind in development on Indiana Avenue, and every other house in Haughville is seemingly boarded up and abandoned. Fortunately our Mayor has attempted to mitigate this lack of representation by spreading the money of RebuildIndy and sending neighborhood liaisons to fight for local communities. What district 15 really needs, however, is an accessible and accountable leader in our City County Council, and I hope to be just that.