for District 3
1) What do you
offer as a candidate?
I am not your typical candidate; I will bring a
different perspective to the Council. While I have nothing against lawyers, or lobbyists,
I am neither of those as my background is in biomedical research, having earned
my master's degree in chemistry and my PhD in pharmacology. More recently I
have been working in the information technology industry and at various points
of my career I have been involved in adult education. These are all areas of
great importance to a city moving into the 21st century. Additionally, I
co-founded and am co-chair of Greater Indianapolis for Change (GIfC), a
multi-partisan, grassroots organization that we started in the closing days of
the Obama campaign. My background in analysis and work with community
organizations makes me uniquely qualified to serve on the City-County Council.
2) What does
your district most need from the City Council?
District 3 has a variety of challenges facing
it. To overcome the challenges we face we need three things from the
City-County Council: responsiveness, advocacy, and action. Time and again, the
most pressing issues of certain neighborhoods carry on year after year while
only lip service is paid to them. First, when an issue arises that affects the
citizens of our neighborhoods and is brought to the attention of the council we
need a response. This will tell us that we have been heard. Second, when that
issue negatively affects the quality of life of the citizens of District 3, we
need a leader who will reliably remind city government and the council of the
issue we are facing letting us know that someone is working on our behalf.
Finally, whether or not a problem can be solved, it may not always happen
quickly. In this case, the citizens of District 3 need to be regularly updated
on the status of ongoing work being done on their behalf. This way we know that
something is being done. Responsiveness, advocacy, and action are what we need
from the council.
3) What's your
opinion of the 2012 budget proposed by the mayor?
I think that the 2012 budget proposed by the
mayor is not sufficiently understood by most people, including those who helped
craft it, those who will help pass it, and those who are forced to live with
its effects. In the past, there have been workshops on understanding the city
budget and these workshops should continue annually. Furthermore, there should
be a mechanism for explaining the budget to the constituency. Whether that is a
town hall meeting on the budget or an opportunity for neighborhood associations
to comment on its review, the budget is critical to functioning of this city
and should be understood by its citizenry. One major problem that I see with
this budget is the use of "across the board" budget cuts. In my opinion, these
cuts are simply a lazy way of closing short-term budget gaps without examining
their root cause. This method punishes efficiency and avoids openly setting
priorities. We may have dire needs from an agency one year and completely
separate ones the next. This practice of "across the board" cuts
needs to end and be replaced by sound examination and judgment.
4) What is your
position on a comprehensive smoking ban?
I support a complete smoking ban throughout the
city. While I believe that everyone should have the freedom to choose whether
or not to smoke, it is clear that smoking in public buildings amounts to
imposing the will of the smoker onto the non-smoker. It also is a known health
risk. The only possible exception to this rule would be an establishment that
derives at least 50% of its revenue from the sale of tobacco and
tobacco-related products. A restaurant that buys a hookah would not qualify and
a cigar bar would only qualify if it were truly a tobacco store that obtained a
license to serve alcohol, and not a bar that sells cigars.
5) Do you think
the city needs more police officers?
In these times of tight budgets, the city needs
to be clear on its priorities and public safety is primary among them. I would
look into streamlining the bureaucracy and seeing whether other parts of the
budget might be able to spare more. I will not make promises that I cannot
keep, so I do not know how much we can do. Melina Kennedy believes that money
can be found to add 100 officers, and I would support her in those efforts.
6) Do you
support increased funding for public transit?
I believe that mass transit can greatly improve
the quality of life in a city such as ours. The exact form it will take will
vary on the existing infrastructure and conditions in each part of the city.
This will also affect the potential costs involved. We should remember that
neither problems nor their solutions respect political boundaries. Therefore, I
support a regional effort and strongly favor cooperation rather than animosity
between the city and its surrounding areas.
I support increased funding for public transit,
but given the current financial situation in the City of Indianapolis, we may
be limited in how much we can achieve and how quickly we can achieve it. We can
initiate our plans and set up a process of incremental improvements and
projects that can be executed once funding is available. We can seek government
funds, if and when they are available, and we can explore the possibility of
public-private partnerships. In this latter case, it is essential that this be
a true partnership and not a scheme to enrich a private entity at the public's
expense. However we go about increasing the funding for public transit, I
believe it is critical to get input from the public and get buy-in from the
various stakeholders before we commit to any large scale increases.
7) Do you think
the streets and sidewalks in your district are in good shape?
Some parts of my district have streets and
sidewalks that are in great shape, but there are many that are greatly in need
of repair. There are other places where sidewalks need to be installed for the
first time. It is critical that we monitor the process of installing, replacing
and repairing these structures. I have heard complaints from citizens about a
section of sidewalk being replaced and adjacent sections being badly damaged at
the same time. We have potholes that are filled with temporary patches ("hot
patches") that never receive a more permanent fix. We have the case of the
resurfacing of Broad Ripple Avenue from College to Keystone that left the
crosswalk west of Keystone unchanged. This was the site of massive potholes
last winter (really, craters). We need to set up a schedule of repair and
replacement based on need and not political clout. We also need to be certain
that contractors are reliable and do quality work. We should not concern
ourselves with their political connections or donations. Unfortunately, we
cannot overcome years of neglect in a short period of time, especially with
limited resources. We must dedicate ourselves to ending the neglect and commit
ourselves to a steady process of repair.
8) Name one
project that would most benefit your district.
The project that would most benefit our
district would be a district-wide public safety plan. A comprehensive plan of
this nature would be based in "beat" policing and would be responsive to the
people of District 3. Combined with a pro-active community policing program,
our approach to public safety would be flexible to specific areas and respond
to specific needs. For instance, the vandalism and property damaged faced by
the Warfleigh neighborhood every weekend requires a different approach than the
response to the criminals that prey upon our senior citizens in Nora Commons.
This approach to public safety would be one
where all citizens who are directly involved have a voice and where
accountability would rest with the people being policed, not the bureaucrats
seeking political favor.
question do you wish we'd asked?
The question that you should have asked is
where is our city going in the next 15-20 years? What is our vision? We used to
envision ourselves as the Amateur Sports Capitol of the World. We need a new
vision. We need a vision that addresses where we as the citizens of this great
city want to go. That vision needs to answer how do we expect to get there
while we continue to lease or outright sell our most precious community assets.
How will we be on the cutting edge of urban planning when we don't control our
curbside real estate? How do we ensure that our children will pay reasonable
rates for basic utilities when we don't know if WE will? And how will we solve
short- and long-term budget problems by giving away tax dollars to private
interests to build things that we don't need? Is this our vision? I don't
believe it is.