Republican Jon Elrod brings a fresh perspective
After winning one of the tightest elections in the state, and unseating Ed Mahern, one of the longest standing Democrats in the Statehouse, newly elected Republican State Representative and Indianapolis native Jon Elrod, took leave from his responsibilities at his local law firm and joined his 99 peers for the 2007 legislative session. In between negotiating his new surroundings and learning the ropes, the 29 year old rookie legislator was able to sit down with NUVO and share some of his thoughts on a few of the issues expected to be taken up by this year’s General Assembly and what he hopes to accomplish for his Southside constituency.
NUVO: Yours was a very close race this past election, including a recount and a winning margin of only eight votes. How would you characterize the experience?
Elrod: It puts a magnifying glass on all the things that go wrong in every election. There’s always human error and there’s always mistakes. It is messy and the law sometimes favors finality over certitude, sometimes it favors form over substance. I guess when it comes down to eight votes, neither side won, in the sense that they inspired the electorate so that a well-defined majority said, “this is our guy.”
I kind of looked at it like we both failed. It came down to a coin toss, and it went in my favor. It’s a humbling thought. I’ll just kind of carry that with me — that I still need to prove to the electorate that I deserve the job.
NUVO: It seems as if many state representatives have lifetime appointments. What are your thoughts concerning term limits?
Elrod: I’ve limited myself to four terms, or eight years. I think you need a couple years to get your feet wet and figure out what’s going on around you and to become an effective legislator. But you want to give yourself a time limit so you’ve got a reason to get everything done.
NUVO: You’re on record as saying that you will vote against the proposed amendment to the Indiana Constitution banning same-sex marriage. This is not exactly towing the Republican Party line. Where does this decision come from?
Elrod: When you really think about it, the reason most people have issues with gay marriage is the religious connotation. If you think about it that way — and it really is — you really can’t separate that term, “marriage,” from its religious connotations. So, perhaps we should rethink whether we really want the state defining that.
My stance has been that the state shouldn’t be defining marriage, because it’s a religious thing. There should only be civil unions, and they should be granted irrespective of gender.
NUVO: One of the major issues of your campaign was spurring economic development in your district. How do you intend to accomplish this?
Elrod: My big goal is to bring back MINIGOV. It was part of the original UNIGOV plan and it wasn’t adopted back in the ’70s when it was put out there. What it would do is divide the city into smaller districts.
Right now, we have problems with forgotten neighborhoods. They just don’t get any money. They don’t have a vocal community. They don’t have connected people in the community. And, when it comes to sidewalks and streets and alleys and things like that, they’re just forgotten. And we also have a problem with zoning. You’ll have someone that wants to put up another “lemon lot” or something vexatious. The people that make the decision will be up in Pike, Castleton, or down in Franklin Township. They don’t drive by the area. They don’t know what the area is like. They don’t know how it will disrupt the people that live there, and they don’t care. These decisions should be made by people who live around there.
So, right now the excluded cities like Beech Grove, Lawrence and Speedway, if they want to rezone something, it goes before their local board first and then it goes to the City-County council. That is basically what MINIGOV tries to do — give more control back to the communities.
Jonathan R. Elrod is a partner in his family’s general practice law firm, Elrod & Mascher, P.C. He resides in the Bates-Hendricks neighborhood just south of downtown Indianapolis.
Elrod grew up in Indianapolis and graduated from Franklin Central High School in 1995. His undergraduate studies were at Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio. He majored in History, minored in Performance Studies (Theater), and was president of the Rugby Football Club. In 1999 he received his B.A., magna cum laude.
Following college, Elrod studied law at Indiana University School of Law- Bloomington. He was on the editorial staff of the Indiana Law Journal and studied overseas in conjunction with the University of London School of Advanced Legal Studies. He received his J.D. cum laude in 2002.
Elrod is a Republican and stepped into politics by running for the Center Township Advisory Board in a predominately Democratic district in 2004. He served on the board until Nov. 20, 2006, when he was sworn in as State Representative of the 97th District, at the age of 29.
You can contact Rep. Elrod via email at email@example.com.