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Why I'm Running (Unabridged)
Welcome to my newsletter. I wanted a way to keep in touch with all of you and let you know what was going on with the campaign — and the city at large. I love Indianapolis and have called it home for over 30 years. Not everything is going to be about me…I hope you can share your vision with our readers and what you want to see for OUR future. And with that, I give you the unabridged interview with the Indy Star:
The Indianapolis Star recently asked me a simple “Why did I decide to run for Mayor?” And I gave a lengthy response. In these days of soundbites and ambiguous non-answers, I wrote this all out for them so that you could get the complete answer. My advisors have told me, “TO LONG, NO ONE WANTS TO READ ALL OF THIS,” — but I’m betting you will. If you want to read the short and edited responses, I’ll link the interview.
Why did you decide to run for mayor?
I am running as I’ve fought for change in our city, and frankly, I’m sick of having to fight the people I’ve voted for and felt were on my side while they were there to stroke their own egos. I’m running because these same folks never seem to put qualified or competent people into their administration, simply focusing on paying back political debts. I’m running to find real change that isn’t hindered and to be the force to allow others who have been in my shoes to be less hindered in their pursuit – and allow them to do it without politicians taking credit for projects they have purposely obstructed their pursuit to be a force for positive change.
I am a community activist at heart.
I was a scout in my youth, and while most people saw this as camping and pre-teens shooting targets in a barely supervised range, I saw upgrading homes to be accessible for disabled vets, cleaning up waterways, to spending Saturdays reading to the senior home.
This is laying it on a ‘little’ thick, but this is who I am. My parents were involved before I was born — my conservative father with his union efforts to make blue-collar jobs fairer and more equitable before this became a partisan issue — and my mother with her church, traveling throughout the country and, lately, the world.
To answer the question, I want to be the type of leader that gets things done. I don’t want an eight-year study on a subject only to claim I need four more, so my legacy isn’t tarnished. This isn’t about ego; it is about lives.
2. What will be your biggest priorities if elected mayor?
Overwhelmingly, public safety is the biggest priority. Though this doesn’t simply mean ‘more cops.’ It means addressing the root causes. Politicians don’t want to do this because it takes time and requires jumping into the fray running. By the time most of them think about this issue, they’ve already squandered two administrations and are asking for ‘just a little more time.’
In my day job, I focus on continuous improvement. This is an idea that we don’t need to meet back every five years to realign goals – goals are always reassessed, and metrics are always gathered and transparent to the stakeholders and those tasked with implementing them. Stakeholders are welcomed to the table. And we build. In my world, we have a phrase called ‘fail fast,’ meaning that we don’t wait until the end to see if it is not working, we assess, and if it isn’t working, we immediately change course. This isn’t a failure of the system – it is the process. If it isn’t working well, stop and fix the process. If it isn’t working at all, you try something new.
Being a director of the largest neighborhood organization in Indy, we see people crying out for help. Again, public safety isn’t simply ‘more cops.’ It is food security; it is having a home that you don’t have to worry about being evicted from as your out-of-state landlord focuses more on the spreadsheets than the human heart. It is ensuring your family isn’t dying of overdoses because of the fear that police will arrest them when they try to get clean.
And yes, policing is a big part of the short-term goals. I am uniquely qualified for this as I have a relationship with IMPD. I regularly work with the recruiting unit with my Citizens Alliance for Public Safety. As I am most Tuesday nights, I was at the Pre-Academy Readiness (PAR). I want to see officers that care about the city and look like the representation of the city. I do feel changes need to be made. My organization has worked with two administrations for body-worn cameras. Policy changes regarding mental health, substance abuse disorders, and homelessness must be made.
My graduate degree is in Community Psychology, having gone back to school in my late thirties to Martin University to understand better how to fix these issues. I can tell you that an armed response to mental health crises will only worsen the situation. IMPD is down 200 officers – we have a starting pay of $73,000 with bonuses for the first year, and we have this budgeted. We have been down these 200 officers for eight years. Without defunding the force, in the slightest, we can move some of this money to create a parallel agency of civilian responders. I’ve seen the documents that the current administration has budgeted for something similar -- two civilian officers that will report to IMPD and work solely with an officer. It isn’t taking duties away from IMPD, and it won’t change the fact that an armed officer is still involved.
To end this, we need to stop over-policing through real-time data-driven decision-making. We need to focus on the most violent of criminals – working with US Attorney for Operation Safe Neighborhoods to reduce gun violence and gun trafficking and stop the sweetheart deals that allow known violent criminals to walk free simply because the prosecutor has decided to use them as a witness in another case so that they can murder others.
I’ve spoken to the father of one of the victims of the recent shooting in Castleton, and I’ve spoken to the officer that put the tourniquet on his son’s leg, saving his life. In this case, the judge allowed the criminal shooter to walk away less than 12 hours after the shooting. This is not going to stop without the precision removal of these violent criminals from our community, and if the judges and prosecutors do not help, we can continue to watch and arrest these same individuals while referring them for federal charges.
The background on this subject is not simple, and there are no bite-sized answers. I know that most of this will not be published, but even though this document is nowhere close to being an answer, I feel answers the question as entirely as I’d like. Any candidate with a simple answer to this topic hasn’t given it any thought.
3. What issues do you see in the current system that need addressing, as mayor?
To end on a positive note, we must return to our core values. We need to make the city livable -- where people want to be. We must bring culture back to the city and find ways to get people involved. When I moved to Indy thirty-some years ago, culture was everywhere. The art scene was vibrant and growing. Poetry nights and open mics at local coffee shops were a thing. The canal was fun and not dangerous.
For the last decade, it has seemed the only things we’ve been interested in promoting are sports – without finding a way to make these same sports accessible to our residents. I miss being able to find $5 tix to the Pacers because tickets were distributed to locals without fear of scalping. My father and I had season tickets to the Colts in the years before Peyton.
We need to make this city walkable. We need to make it bikeable. We need to find a way to undo the decades-long contracts on parking that extend late into the evening and kill our small businesses. We need to find a way to revitalize our canal, and we need official partners to rebuild the culture. Rebuilding culture will bring people to the city, making it a tourist destination and making people realize this is a place to visit. We need to show our conventions that regardless of what the state may feel, our city is a diverse and welcoming community that embraces all – and brings back what we’ve lost.
It Is Official
The documents were signed and filed for the official start of my candidacy.