Congratulations. You've won. As political races go,

this was a pretty low-key campaign. I'm not sure whether that was because of a

lack of real controversy, voter apathy or because you were all so doggone civil

(at least until this last week), but this will go down as one of the quieter

mayoral contests in Indianapolis history.

There could, of course, be another reason all of you

kept the mute button pressed over the past few months. That would be because

you've read the writing on the wall and concluded the next four years are

likely to amount to a long fight just to maintain today's status quo.

There's hardly a city in the country that's not

afflicted with red ink. Most urban centers are hard-pressed to come up with the

funds necessary to provide the services people need. This situation is probably

going to get worse.

In Washington the rage to cut the budget deficit will

mean that federal funding to cities is bound to be seriously

reduced. That may look good to deficit hawks, but in a city like

Indianapolis, it means that dollars we've depended on for housing and community

development, transportation, education, health and public safety projects are

likely to be seriously curtailed in the near future.

In Indiana, we have a Republican-controlled state

legislature

that, time and again, has demonstrated a decidedly anti-urban bias.

This group is not only allergic to taxes, it has legislated against the

diversity that makes cities thrive by endorsing a constitutional amendment that

doesn't just ban same-sex marriages, but civil unions as well.

As for public transportation, you can forget it, as

far as this bunch is concerned. It's going to take a minor miracle even to get

them to allow a referendum aimed at determining how many of us are ready to

leave our cars behind.

All of which suggests that Indianapolis is going to

have to be self-sufficient to an extraordinary degree during the next four

years. This doesn't mean learning how to do more with less — that slogan

will be about as relevant as a VHS machine. It means that you're going to find

yourself saying "No" a lot — and to a lot of ideas you're sure

would make the city better.

But you didn't go to all the trouble of running for

mayor to just say "No." Being mayor gives you the chance to make a

difference, to create policies capable of shaping the character of this city

for years to come. Times may be tough, but tough times can create new openings

for creativity.

It's time for Indianapolis to finally come to grips

with its identity: with what it means to be a medium-size city in the middle of

North America in the 21st century.

We may not have the financial muscle of larger metro

areas, or the natural attractions associated with the coasts, but we have the

talent to make Indianapolis a strikingly livable city — and a beautiful

city, too.

It's high time Indianapolis borrowed a page from some

of our farming neighbors. These folks have been creating a renaissance in

Indiana food through the creation of artisanal products, ranging from grass-fed

beef and pork to goat cheeses, maple syrup and brandy capable of winning

national awards and sought by chefs in world-renowned restaurants. Within our

metropolitan area, Traders Point Creamery is producing state-of-the-art dairy

products with grass-fed cows that are raised in an environmentally sustainable

way.

It's time we applied this model to our city as a

whole, emphasizing best practices in urban design, neighborhood redevelopment,

and environmental well-being.

As mayor, a major part of your job is about selling

Indianapolis so that people in other places are made curious enough to want to

come here to see what we've got. Imagine being able to say that in Indianapolis

it is our city's policy to seek out the best ideas when we design our buildings

and public spaces; that we actively create opportunities for creative people to

contribute to public works projects through incentives like a percent for art

set-aside whenever new construction is undertaken.

What if you could say that Indianapolis isn't just

about supporting the arts, but putting artists to work on projects that help

revive struggling neighborhoods and provide kids with pre-school enrichment opportunities.

Think about what it would be like to tell people that

Indianapolis is a success story in how an urban area can clean up its air and

water. That in this city we reward people for recycling, and we're a leader in

the transformation of waste into moneymaking materials.

We've seen how locally owned, independent restaurants

have brought a fresh sense of place to particular neighborhoods. These

businesses aren't just places to eat, they impart an atmosphere and energy that

help to define their community's character. Indianapolis should brag about

being a city where independent and local transactions are our preferred way of

doing business.

Mayor, we both know that Indianapolis is facing more

than its share of challenges in the next four years. But we're not so big we

can't get our arms around these things. Sometimes small really is beautiful.

Making this city truly beautiful — for as many people as we can —

is within reach.

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