District 7 Candidate: Sahara Williams, Republican 

click to enlarge District 7's Republican Candidate Sahara Williams. - SUBMITTED PHOTO

Sahara Williams

Republican Candidate, District 7

1.What do you offer as a candidate?

I am a community focused results driven person meaning that I care about the needs of the community and will focus on prioritizing those needs and wants and working with others in City government to deliver practical solutions. I am open-minded, willing to listen to all sides, and want to do what is right for the community.

I have always been involved in my community and have participated in organizations that include the Pike Township Residents Association, The Lafayette Square Area Coalition, and The Gateway Neighborhood Association. I have also volunteered for groups that focus on youth including the ACE Mentor Program, The National Society of Black Engineers, and Big Brothers Big Sisters. I started a nonprofit program to teach inner-city youth life-skills and character building through the use of horses.

I am also a small business owner that understands the challenges we face as a City when our country is in one of the worst financial crises it has ever faced. I will vote to support initiatives that leverage City dollars to bring private development to the City. This will create more projects for local companies and more jobs for local workers.

2.What does your district most need from the City Council?

Advocacy. District 7 residents want someone to advocate for resources, dollars, projects, and jobs to be allocated to this area. They want a councilor who will vote for these things and help direct them to the area. We need a councilor who will take the time to listen to regular residents (versus political insiders) and be engaged with them for the entire term; not just during the election year. District 7 needs a representative who will work across party lines and advocate for the area regardless of whether their party holds the Mayor's office.

3.What's your opinion of the 2012 budget proposed by the mayor?

I think the budget is responsible. It preserves public safety but recognizes that government needs to make the same sacrifices that citizens are making in terms of prioritizing available dollars and cutting spending.

4.What is your position on a comprehensive smoking ban?

I am a non-smoker and appreciate greatly the opportunity to choose to patronize venues that don't permit smoking. I believe it is imperative that we protect youth under the age of 18, who often cannot make decisions for themselves, from the dangers of second-hand smoke.

However, I also believe an adult should have the right to establish a legal business that involves a legal product even if I personally don't like the product. Adults can make decisions that are right for their lives. I like to horseback ride and started a program sharing that passion with others. Some people are scared of horse and think they are "dangerous." Should I be forbidden from establishing my American Dream - No. If I advertise for employees and someone chooses to apply and accept an offer then that is that person's right. Should we not have police officers because the job has inherent dangers? What about skydiving or working with large animals at the zoo?

The point is that people choose their career and it is not for government to try to make every decision for an individual. I think that government would be far more effective in protecting workers by establishing appropriate regulations like better ventilation.

5.Do you think the city needs more police officers?

Of course we would always like to have more police officers. They are a vital part of our public safety plan as are preventative measures like after-school programs and most importantly parent engagement. Honestly, if we had more of the latter we would not need so many officers in the first place. That being said I think that the City is doing a decent job of balancing many priorities. Based on the residents I have talked to I don't believe there is enough support for raising taxes to have more police on the streets. Therefore, I think that the City has to do what it can to maintain the public safety budget during these difficult economic times. Overall crime is down, except in one area.

We should to continue to evaluate the efforts being made and maintain the things that are working well like community policing and broad coverage of all zones and then focus in on the problem areas.

6.Do you support increased funding for public transit?

I think a much improved public transit system will be important to the future of Indianapolis. I think it will be important to improving the livability of the City making it more attractive to talented young people and to businesses; reducing traffic congestion as we continue to grow; and making Indy a more environmentally friendly and sustainable city. The plan that current City leaders are working on also focuses on generating a reasonable financial return on the investment which is key to keeping taxes low and our budgets balanced. I am glad that so much effort is being spent to engage residents in this process; incorporate their feedback; and develop a comprehensive plan that the majority of the community can support. This approach will make it more likely for a county-wide referendum to pass.

7.Do you think the streets and sidewalks in your district are in good shape?

Last April, as the weather turned, the City in general, our district included, had so many potholes in the streets that it was impossible to drive down the street without swerving left to right and back again to avoid them. After years of neglect and insufficient funding to do more than just patch holes that open up year after year, Mayor Ballard and his team negotiated an incredible deal for the citizens that generates $425M in infrastructure projects. Today, we have resurfaced roads on High School Road, 30thStreet, Guion Road, 38th Street, and Lafayette Road to name a few. Sidewalks are being put in along the highest priority routes such as 38th Street so residents so not have to walk in the street or wait for the bus in the ditch.

The amount of improvements to the City has never before been done at this scale. While there is certainly more work to do-- more sidewalks to be built, more roads to be repaired, and more ponding to be eased--I applaud the attention this important quality of life issue has been given and appreciate the effort that has been made.

8.Name one project that would most benefit your district.

The east end of Gateway Drive is pretty rough. There is also a bridge/culvert on Moller Road just south of 30th Street that appears to be beyond patching. I would also like to see sidewalks on Moller Road between 38th Street and Moller Way and on 46th Street from High School Road to Lafayette Road.

9.What question do you wish we'd asked?

How will you stay connected to the community?

I have a website up that explains in detail who I am and what I am about. I also have twitter and facebook accounts that are open to all. I post information there regularly about what I am doing and I will continue to do that during the entire time I serve. I also have a weekly e-mail blast that has information on what is going on in the District and the City and includes information that is important to residents like job openings and, if I am elected, issues that are up for vote. I will also attend homeowner association and neighborhood meetings- and not just the ones that are politically active. Constituents will not just hear from me during the election cycle.

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