CHUCK BREWER (Republican)
Age: 44 (July 18, 1971)
NUVO: What is your stance on global warming?
(BOTH candidates acknowledged the existence of global warming. Yay, science!)
Chuck Brewer: It exists.
What will you do to reduce carbon emissions and make Indianapolis more eco-friendly?
I would like to continue the transition of city vehicles to low-to-zero emission vehicles where it makes sense. Clearly, there are some city employees, police officers for instance, who may require other types of vehicles. But, this transition is a step in the right direction.
I also would like to implement the use of renewable energy. One example would be using LED or solar-powered streetlights. We are in a position where we need to add more streetlights in our neighborhoods to make our city safer. We should explore ways that are friendly to both the environment and our budget.
How do you plan to make those changes?
Under Mayor Ballard, we have already seen the start of transitioning city vehicles to lower emission vehicles. I would work with the council and key stakeholders to continue those efforts in a way that makes sense.
And, I would evaluate new projects and efforts to upgrade equipment to determine if the use of renewable energy is a viable option.
Why do you think those changes will make a positive impact on the environment of Indianapolis?
Clearly, the use of cars with lower emissions and shifting some of our city operations toward renewable energy would have a positive impact on our environment.
In 2014, the Census Bureau released numbers saying overall net worth was down 7%. Is income inequality a problem?
In your opinion, what causes wealth inequality?
There are many things that contribute to wealth inequality but the key issue in my mind is education. We hear it all the time — education is the silver bullet. And, there is no greater indicator for an individual's success than access to quality education.
What will you do to lessen the gap between the rich and the poor?
I would have an intense focus on workforce development. Right now, there are companies in our city that have job openings but they cannot find individuals with the skills needed.
What kind of effects will your changes have?
Hopefully, it will give individuals the opportunity to learn a new skill and obtain a higher paying job. If we do this on a large enough scale, we start to see a smaller gap between incomes.
How do you propose making these changes?
The Office of Education Innovation has been focused on administering charter schools and holding them accountable. I want them to continue that work but will also charge them with tackling this issue to close the workforce development gap.
Indianapolis has largely avoided some of the situations we have seen play out in other areas across the country. But, we must remain vigilant and work with community leaders and our police officers to build greater trust and respect.
This is one of the reasons I support equipping all of our patrol officers with body cameras. We, of course, hope that there is never a controversy or need to use them. But, if there is a circumstance where there are questions about what exactly happened, we need to be able to get the truth.
What will you do to curb recent murder and crime rates?
Our core responsibility is to do all we can to improve the safety of our residents and all of those who visit our city. My 12-point crime plan addresses a variety of issues including curbing violent crime.
First, I would bring back the Indianapolis Violence Reduction Partnership that dramatically reduced violent crime in the 90s. It will bring all the various public safety agencies together to target our most violent criminals.
Additionally, the drug trade, specifically heroin, drives a great deal of the violence we see in our city. We will face this challenge head on, developing a heroin task force. We will increase the number of narcotics officers to cut off the supply of heroin in our city. And, we will work to connect those who want access to drug treatment with options to get help.
Why do you think your solutions will be effective?
Many of these proposals have been utilized in other cities across the country and even in Indianapolis in the past with great success.
What will you do to improve mass transit in the city of Indianapolis?
I had the opportunity to tour IndyGo and was impressed with their ongoing efforts to provide services with the limited resources at their disposal. Expanding Bus Rapid Transit and making progress on the Red Line are certainly important components of improving our transit system. There is, however, no question that additional efforts like a mass transit referendum would be needed to take our system to the next level.
Voters should have the opportunity to weigh in on how and if we expand our mass transit system. I believe we should work to build a plan for the system to be largely self-sustaining. If voters approve the initial funding through a referendum, I would want to ensure that the city is not saddled with unanticipated significant debt like many other cities doing similar projects have been.
How should a mass transit system be operated?
A mass transit system needs to be run in a way that maximizes services and efficiencies while being largely self-sustaining. A major key to establishing a largely self-sustaining mass transit system is that it is designed as a high frequency ridership model and is then given the opportunity to grow to include low frequency stops.
What would you like to see Indy's mass transit system expand to include?
I am excited to see the city expanding BRT and making progress on the Red Line. These are crucial components to expanding our mass transit and getting the community to support any additional expansions that would better connect our city and the surrounding areas.
Would you like to see Indy's mass transit system expand?
Mass transit is an important mark of a first class city. Having lived in Chicago and having traveled to many cities with extensive mass transit systems, I am keenly aware of the benefits. My main concern is that any expansion is done in a way that makes financial sense for the city and that voters have the opportunity to weigh in.
What are the greatest challenges facing IPS today?
The greatest challenge facing IPS is that, in some areas of our city, children come from difficult circumstances that make it harder for them to be prepared to learn. We have kids who come to school hungry or worried about their parents' employment. We have kids who see violence in their homes and neighborhoods on a regular basis. This is extremely difficult on the children and results in unique issues in some of our IPS classrooms.
What will you do to fix these problems?
We need to do everything we can to address these issues across our city. We need to bring economic development and job opportunities to our neighborhoods. We need to support efforts aimed at curbing hunger. We need to work with organizations focused on helping parents in need.
Finally, we need to work hand in hand with IPS to identify more ways the city can be involved and provide resources. That is why I have proposed adding two bipartisan, mayor-appointed members to the IPS Board, providing support for IPS and a voice for the city.
If your solution involves increased spending, where will the money come from?
How do you plan to cut down on crime rates in IPS schools?
One of my proposals is to hire and train civilian social resource officers through IMPD to assist in connecting those in our community who are struggling with drug addiction, domestic violence, mental health challenges, etc. with the help and programs they desperately need.
Some of the proposed social resource officers will work with school officials to address issues with our young adults in an effort to get them on the right path and away from a potential life of crime.
What services should the city provide to help the homeless community?
The first step is to work with the non-profit community to determine where the city can best help and assist in their efforts. One great example is the Reuben Engagement Center which provides intervention for those who are homeless and chronically in and out of the justice system. The center is being built with private dollars and staffed through city funding.
Additionally, the mayor can serve as and advocate and a convener. We have seen Mayor Ballard do this on a variety of issues, like pre-K, where he has taken a stand on an issue and the corporate community has stepped up to help make it a reality.
What services should be provided by churches and other private groups?
It is my belief that we generally need community-led efforts paired with city support. The city has a vested interest in ensuring these community-led efforts have support. But, the community should lead the majority of these efforts to ensure that programs do not change based on politics or budget constraints.
What would you do to make sure everyone has somewhere warm this winter?
It is crucial that we work with groups like Children's Health Insurance Program to effectively coordinate efforts across the city that provide services to those struggling with homelessness.
But, one of the key things missing is a low barrier shelter for individuals who do not fit the sober or faith-based shelter environment. This is something I believe the city should work to resolve.
The most important thing we can do for the long-term success of our city is to attract more people to live here. To do that, we have to focus on the three key issues of public safety, economic development and education.
We need to have a vibrant economy and attract the best and brightest to our city. To do that, we have to be a city that people want to live in.
What is your approach for addressing this issue?
We need strong neighborhoods that are safe and we need great schools for our kids. We need to have a good quality of life with a bustling downtown and the best city services that can be provided. And, we need to provide those city services in a fiscally responsible manner.
Why is this issue more important, in your opinion, than other issues facing Indianapolis?
Our tax revenue is generated by the people who live here. There are 200,000 people who commute in and rely on our infrastructure and city services everyday but their tax dollars are all dedicated to another county. We have to attract more people to live here in order to be able to afford the maintenance of our infrastructure and to invest in the types of amenities that make our city attractive for residents and businesses.
How do you prioritize the issues facing the city?
Our core responsibility is to keep our residents safe. We have several other responsibilities, which include providing various city services and providing a good quality of life. The mayor needs to balance all of these needs to make progress across the board while also honoring the taxpayers.
What do you think are the greatest assets Indianapolis has for improving the quality of life for its citizens?
Indianapolis is a great place to live. We have all the amenities one would expect in a larger city — major sports teams, a thriving restaurant and arts scene and a vibrant downtown. In recent years, we have expanded on those assets and added things like bike lanes, the Cultural Trail, and bike sharing. With the addition of Blue Indy and the expansion of the Red Line, we are taking the first steps to address mass transit. These are the types of things that lure the best and the brightest to Indy.
How would you go about improving the quality of life in Indianapolis?
First, we need to keep building on the progress we have seen in recent years. We have made investments and we need to maintain those upgrades. Second, we have seen the downtown thrive while areas like Mass Ave, Fountain Square, Irvington and areas around 16th Street are growing. We need to use the development tactics that have worked well in these areas to develop the economic corridors running throughout our city. This will bring jobs and new private investment to improve our neighborhoods.
Do you believe there is a marginal divide between the citizens of this city, economically, socially, racially, etc? Why or why not?
There are always a variety of issues and ways that citizens can be divided from one another. The key here is to make Indianapolis a better place for everyone to live, work and raise a family.
Do you support the current administration's dedication to bicycling opportunities and bicycle safety? What would you do to increase this initiative in Indianapolis and Marion County?
I am committed to the cycling community and the value it brings our overall transportation system, quality of life and economic development efforts. We should build on the progress made by Mayor Ballard. If elected, I will develop a broader long-term plan for the future of cycling in our city and hope that IndyCog will be part of those conversations. I was disappointed that my opponent didn't even respond to the IndyCog questionnaire.
("Why are you running?" is what we extrapolated.)
I have never run for political office but I am running for mayor because I love this city and I think it's critical that we continue the progress that Mayor Ballard has made over the past several years.
When I was starting my first business, I researched cities across the country — and I chose Indianapolis. We're on the right path and have tremendous potential. But to reach that potential, we need the right leadership.
I believe strongly that a politics-as-usual approach will not take us to the next level. We need a fresh, business-minded, and innovative approach if we truly want to continue our progress.
If you could tell the state legislature something, what would it be?
The RFRA debate last year damaged our state's reputation and I would urge the legislature to look at Indianapolis' Human Rights Ordinance as an example of what might make sense. n