District 21 of the Indianapolis City-County Council covers the near south side of the city. Incumbent Democrat Frank Mascari first won his District 21 seat in 2015. (He was elected to represent District 20 in 2011.) He will face Republican challenger Tyler Richardson in the general election.
Tyler is a small business owner, resident of the Fountain Square Neighborhood, and an active member of the southeast side community. As a member of Southeast Neighborhood Development (SEND) and a member of the Marion County Bipartisan Infrastructure Committee, Tyler has worked with neighborhood advocates around the county to bring economic development to the southeast side and fix the county's roads and sidewalks.
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.?
Richardson: The County, in conjunction with IndyGo, has an opportunity to take a big step forward on transportation with the Marion County Transit Plan which, if implemented correctly, will address key quality of life issues such as air quality, sustainability and access to green spaces through the city, while also providing efficient and affordable transportation for Indianapolis residents without cars.
NUVO: I want to know how they are going to support the public school system.
Richardson: While Councilors do not directly oversee education, as school funding is determined by the State Legislature and resource allocation of that funding is primarily overseen by local School Boards, it is critical that all elected officials support students in any way possible. This can be done in a variety of ways, such as ensuring local libraries have resources necessary to help students study and encouraging local businesses to engage with their future workforce through internship programs. I will support the school districts within my council district in any way I can.
NUVO: What are your plans to help Indianapolis have a more equitable distribution of resources to help marginalized communities without contributing to gentrification?
Richardson: A major contributor to gentrification in cities across the country is rising property tax rates, which often push long-time homeowners and renters out of the neighborhood they’ve called home for decades. For this reason, I would oppose efforts to raise property taxes unless there is a compelling plan to ensure longtime residents won’t be disproportionately affected.
NUVO: How will you address the pothole problem?
Richardson: I am a member of a Bipartisan Infrastructure Committee that is examining this problem in detail. The crumbling infrastructure we're seeing in the county is largely the result of low quality materials being used to resurface roads and a gas tax formula set by the State Legislature that does not adequately fund Marion County for the infrastructure we're responsible for maintaining. If elected to the City-County Council, I will work with the Mayor, other Councilors, and the State Legislature to address these underlying issues, while also ensuring that maximum value is provided to local taxpayers.
NUVO: What will you do to encourage the increased use of alternate (non motor vehicle) forms of transportation in the city?
Richardson: I support the Marion County Transit Plan and and will continue to be a strong advocate for increasing bike lanes and improving sidewalk access in areas of our city where this infrastructure is needed.
NUVO: How do you feel about decriminalizing possession of personal amounts of cannabis, as other large cities have done?
Richardson: The City-County Council does not have the authority to decriminalize cannabis and this is a decision that would need to take place at the state level. With that said, I believe that our public safety resources should be aimed at catching and prosecuting violent criminals. I personally would support decriminalizing cannabis for personal use.