District 7 of the Indianapolis City-County Council covers the near northwest side of the city. According to the Marion County Election Board, incumbent Democratic Councilor Joseph Simpson withdrew his name from consideration for re-election. That means Democratic challenger John Barth is running unopposed in the Tuesday, May 7 primary election.
John is a fifth-generation resident of Indianapolis and is past president of the Butler-Tarkington Neighborhood Association. John grew up in the midtown section of the city, where he attended grammar school, and he graduated from Brebeuf Preparatory School. John graduated from Regis University and the University of Michigan, where he earned a masters’ in social work.
John was elected as an at-large member of the Indianapolis City/County Council in November 2011 and served as Council Vice President from 2012 to 2016.
John works as a senior leader at a local health plan serving the Medicaid, Health Insurance Marketplace, and Medicare populations.
John has a long history of community volunteerism. He continues his long service as a board member of BTNA and also serves on the Art for Neighborhoods Board and as Vice President of the Indy Reads Board of Directors.
John has been married to his wife, Jessica, for over 20 years. John and Jessica have three children — Nora, Miles and Beatrice.
NUVO: How will you address quality of life issues for Indianapolis residents — affordable housing, food deserts, transportation options for those without cars, air quality, water quality, schools, green space, sustainability, recycling, lack of park funding, etc.?
Barth: These issues are foundational building blocks to the quality of life in our neighborhoods and our city. Since my first term on council, I have worked on projects to improve our parks, advance sustainability and recycling efforts, and expand transportation options. The Council can, and must, address these priorities. I am proud to have authored Proposal 77 in 2014 that funded improvements to Tarkington Park – which is now a neighborhood jewel for local families and visitors.
NUVO: I want to know how they are going to support the public school system.
Barth: As the father of an IPS student, I am a supporter of IPS and all our Marion County public schools. While the Indianapolis City/County Council does not have oversight of the non-charter public schools, Councilors should make community voices heard by closely partnering with IPS/Township School administrations and elected school boards to ensure that all students are able to attend the best quality schools with high quality instruction regardless of where families happen to live.
NUVO: What are your plans to help Indianapolis have a more equitable distribution of resources to help marginalized communities without contributing to gentrification?
Barth: Working to improve Indianapolis neighborhoods has been my singular priority since I was first elected to the Council in 2011. As a long-time Butler-Tarkington Neighborhood Association board member and past president, I know the quality of our neighborhoods drives quality of life, economic development, and resident retention. Indianapolis has spent decades and millions of dollars on our successful, envied downtown. The same focus on our neighborhoods is long past due. Effort and resources must flow to our Indianapolis neighborhoods. In my prior term on the Council I championed the Tarkington Park improvements, a complete streets proposal, and the tools to ensure landlord accountability. In a second term on the Council, I will continue to focus on investing in every Indianapolis neighborhood.
NUVO: How will you address the pothole problem?
Barth: Generations of Indianapolis and statehouse leaders have underfunded the infrastructure needs of our city resulting in the pothole problem specifically and the overall need for massive investment generally. I support the Council’s plan, passed in 2018, that includes $500 million in infrastructure investment over five years. Despite this, I think the Council needs to review every option including advocating with the general assembly for additional funds to invest in Indianapolis – the economic generator of Indiana.
NUVO: What will you do to encourage the increased use of alternate (non motor vehicle) forms of transportation in the city?
Barth: No matter where you live in Indianapolis, transportation around the city shapes your life and affects where you work, play, and live. Transportation is fundamental. That is why I am a believer in, and will support policies that promote, supporting multiple transportation options that serve the needs of all residents.
NUVO: How do you feel about decriminalizing possession of personal amounts of cannabis, as other large cities have done?
Barth: While personally I support the concept of decriminalizing the possession of personal amounts of cannabis, the Indianapolis City/County Council does not have the authority to enact such a policy.