By this time next year, Indianapolis will have a new mayor establishing his or her reign on the top floor of the City-County building. Today marks the beginning of that journey to the corner of Market and Alabama Streets. Major party candidates may now file their declarations of candidacy for the municipal primary in May. Independents and minor party candidates may also file petitions of nomination for the November general election.
So who will be on the ballot in May and/or November and what aspirations do they have for the future of the Circle City?
It was mid-July 2014 when Joe Hogsett resigned as U.S. Attorney to join the law firm Bose McKinney & Evans. He formed his exploratory committee one month later, allowing him to start raising money for his municipal run. Hogsett’s quest became official in November when he announced his candidacy on a cold evening in Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Park.
Washington Township Trustee Frank Short quickly stepped aside and threw his support behind Hogsett after spending months preparing to go toe-to-toe with State Representative Ed DeLaney (D-Indianapolis). DeLaney held on to his mayoral dreams until early December, announcing he would focus his attention on the Indiana General Assembly, thanks to an appointment to the House Ways and Means Committee by Minority Leader Scott Pelath (D-Michigan City).
Hogsett is no stranger to politics and is very familiar with the victories and defeats of running for public office. His resume highlights his success as the campaign manager who helped Evan Bayh reach the governor’s mansion. From there he was first appointed (by Governor Bayh as his successor) then eventually elected to the Indiana Secretary of State’s office. His history also holds unsuccessful attempts for the U.S. Senate, U.S. House of Representatives and Indiana Attorney General.
In his November announcement, Hogsett stated he intends to spread the city’s wealth of infrastructure by addressing streets and sidewalks in neighborhoods outside of the downtown district. Crime, community policing and rebuilding the community’s trust of the city’s law enforcement will also be high on Hogsett’s agenda if elected. He touched on education and job creation without getting into the specifics of charter schools sponsored by the mayor’s office or initiatives with Indianapolis Public Schools.
And if campaign fundraising is any indicator of success, Hogsett is way ahead of the game. As of Monday afternoon, his campaign has raised over $1.4 million dollars, the highest amount raised by an Indianapolis mayoral candidate going into an election cycle.
A name considered by some as a potential catalyst for change is Rev. Charles Harrison, senior pastor at Barnes United Methodist Church. Harrison formed his exploratory committee for a possible run for mayor Dec. 4, the same day Ed DeLaney announced his withdrawl from the race.
Harrison is also one of the founders and clergy leaders behind the Ten Point Coalition, a citizen-based organization designed to reduce violence in Indianapolis though active community engagement and the fostering of education and employment opportunities.
In a Facebook post reacting to a recent newspaper article about Indy’s 2014 homicide rate, Harrison expressed his desire to see more funds invested in neighborhood-based programs such as community policing, youth mentoring and job training to counteract root problems that lead to crime and violence. Harrison also indicated that he would support increasing IMPD’s ranks by 300 officers and funding an additional $6 million to cover overtime in order to put more officers on patrol in high crime areas.
The Methodist pastor has made no commitments (as of NUVO’s print deadline) to an official run for the city’s top political seat. Nor has he selected a political party if he were to make any commitment to running. Harrison’s activity to date is collecting comments about the issues from the public via his committee website and social media. A campaign finance report had not been posted by the Marion County Clerk’s office as of noon Monday.
Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?
I swear I just saw a tumbleweed roll across my desk.
(Calls to the Marion County Republican Party to inquire about the search for a successor to Mayor Greg Ballard were not returned by NUVO’s print deadline.)
A few of the GOP names that circulated early as mayoral prospects have already stated publicly they will not run for mayor including State Sen. Jim Merritt (R-Indianapolis), Indiana Sports Corporation president Ryan Vaughn, and former State Republican Party chairman Murray Clark.
The Carson surname is one that carries a lot of weight and respect in Indianapolis. Sam Carson is the son of the late 7th District Congresswoman Julia Carson (and uncle to Julia’s successor and grandson Congressman Andre Carson).
Carson, who was defeated in the 2011 Democrat primary for mayor, is running this year as an Independent. Carson says he is a Democrat in principle at heart, but became disillusioned with the local party following his first mayoral run in 2011.
By entering the race as an independent, Carson says he can continue to campaign and carry his message through the community over the course of several months leading up to the general election.
Carson’s agenda covers a wide range of topics from education to public safety to economic development to races relations to neighborhood investment. In order to move Indianapolis forward, Carson believes several things need to be “taken back” including separating the city’s police department from the sheriff’s department, eliminating the mayor’s sponsorship of charter schools, killing the idea of a new Marion County Justice Complex and doing away with funding for bike lanes and cultural trails in the city.
Instead, Carson says he would concentrate on paving sidewalks in underserved neighborhoods, developing partnerships between inner city schools and historically black colleges to inspire young people and creating ways for law enforcement and the public at-large to hold each other accountable.
Carson says he is also fairly certain that he will be the only mayoral candidate that would actively lobby the state legislature for the legalization of marijuana.
In addition to his political pursuits, Carson is the founder and president of the Julia Carson Legacy of LOVE Foundation and Youth And Legends Empowerment Inc.
Bob Kern has made a bid for Congress in multiple districts over multiple years only to fall short in the primary every time (except the first, when he secured the Democratic party’s nomination in 1998 and eventually lost to Rep. Dan Burton in the former 6th District). Most recently he lost the 2nd District Democratic primary last year to Joe Bock (who was then defeated by incumbent Jackie Walorski).
Kern attempted a mayoral run in 2011, but was removed from the ballot due to ineligibility. Kern believes that the law prohibiting him to run for mayor as a convicted felon has changed. (Kern, under his former name of Bobby Hidalgo, served a year in prison for forgery and theft convictions.) However, NUVO couldn’t find any change over the last four years to Indiana Code 3-8-1-5 that prohibits a person convicted of a felony that has served a year or more in prison from being a candidate for state and local offices. The statute does not apply to federal offices (which is why Kern has been able to run for U.S. Congress nearly every election cycle since 1998).
Still, Kern says if elected he plans to be a friend to and advocate for law enforcement, believes all public officials should be drug tested and will voluntarily submit to drug tests while on the campaign trail. Kern also plans to run as a Democrat, providing Joe Hogsett with at least one challenger in May – if he can somehow stay on the ballot.
The field for the next mayor of Indianapolis looks very narrow at the starting line, but there’s still plenty of time for a dark horse or an unknown to throw a hat into the political ring and widen the pool. The deadline to file as a major party candidate for the primary is noon Feb. 6. Independents and minor party candidates have until noon June 30 to file their petition for nomination.