District 3 of the Indianapolis City-County Council covers part of the north eastern side of the city. Democratic incumbent Christine Scales did not file to run for re-election. Looking to take her place are Republican Dan Jones and Democrats Dan Boots and Coleman J. Watson.
Dan is a senior partner of the Intellectual Property and Technology group (former chair 1997-2009) at Bingham Greenebaum Doll, concentrating his practice on counseling emerging and established businesses in all areas of intellectual property and technology development, including patent, trademark, export control, licensing, copyright, trade secret and unfair competition matters; technology procurement and transfer; computer software and hardware licensing; patent and trademark infringement, validity and right-to-use studies; the preparation and prosecution of domestic and foreign patent and trademark applications in a variety of arts; E-commerce matters; domain name protection and dispute resolution; and entertainment and the arts. Dan's practice also focuses on manufacturing, emerging business, media law, and China initiatives.
Coleman J. Watson
Coleman J. Watson has served in many leadership capacities in church, school, community, and business. Coleman grew up in a loving home, surrounded by a loving family strongly rooted in church. This was were Coleman's love of serving was groomed and nurtured. The Christian teachings of his childhood shaped his beliefs. He believes in always being honest, always offering love and help to anyone he comes into contact with, and to always look for an opportunity to serve. He was raised not to judge, but to show compassion for his fellow man. Coleman would go on to work with organizations such as United Way, RYLA, and other community-minded projects that gave him an opportunity to serve. These projects also gave him leadership training and opportunities to sharpen and mature the skills necessary to work with others. At the age of 23, Coleman ventured into entrepreneurship opening two small businesses. Coleman’s training and experienced led him to the wonderful world of technology, first starting in the IT field and now working in software development. Coleman will use his skills and experience to create better opportunities and make life easier for the citizens of district 3 and Indianapolis. Being an amputee, Coleman knows how important it is to never give up, no matter how hard the obstacles may be. Coleman will be an advocate for a better Indianapolis for all.
NUVO: How will you address quality of life issues for Indianapolis residents — affordable housing, food deserts, transportation options for those without cars, air quality, schools, green space, sustainability, recycling, lack of park funding, etc?
Boots: The Thrive Indianapolis Plan, which was adopted this year, sets forth a vision for a resilient and sustainable Indianapolis that can adapt to climate change while supporting inclusive and healthy neighborhoods. The Plan recognizes the interconnectedness of, among other things, our energy choices, transportation and land use, natural resources, food and agriculture, public health and safety, and waste and recycling. I support this Plan, and the City’s goal to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. While new restaurants and grocery stores are opening all around our city, we know that “food deserts” — neighborhoods without adequate access to fresh food — are a serious issue for many residents. The Indy Hunger Network and others are working on this critical issue, and they need City-County Council support.
Watson: The first order of business is hosting a town hall where discussions and feedback of the community can be heard. The next plan of action is bringing organizations that are currently combating the issues to the community. Making sure our agencies such as Park and Rec have adequate funding for maintaining our parks. A continuance partnership with organizations such as Keep Indianapolis Beautiful. Proposing more investment in repurposing abandon homes and apartments for occupancy. And supporting the new Indygo Projects that increase access and routes to the community. Lastly actively working to increase work opportunities in the city.
NUVO: I want to know how they are going to support the public school system.
Boots: Education is a civil right and critical to the future of our children and our democracy. Strong schools are at the heart of a healthy community, supporting higher property values and Indy’s economic future. My wife and I, and each of our four children, are all proud public school graduates. District 3 includes families in Washington and Lawrence Townships, and Indianapolis Public Schools, as well as those whose children attend non-public schools. While I support giving families choices in where to send their children to school, I’m a long-time advocate for successful and thriving schools that do not discriminate against students or staff, accept all students, and are transparent and accountable to taxpayers. If I’m elected to serve, while the Council’s ability to influence K-12 education in Marion County is limited, I will continue my passion of supporting public schools as a Councillor, encouraging families to invest time and resources, and become more engaged, in their local public schools and school boards. We must ensure we’re providing the best opportunities for all children in Marion County.
Watson: Education should be one of our greatest investments. I will support more funding for resources in our schools. Forming partnerships with private companies and organizations to ensure students have access to updated computers and technology for their homes. I will propose incentives and aid to educators who are teaching in the public school system. And I will support more funding to keep our neighborhood schools fully functional and maintained in the community.
NUVO: What are your plans to help Indianapolis have a more equitable distribution of resources to help marginalized communities without contributing to gentrification?
Boots: It will be important for the Council to work together to support and encourage inclusive and sustainable growth throughout the City. We need to work on improving opportunities for every resident of Indianapolis to move up the economic ladder. The support and development of communities and neighborhoods needs to viewed through a lense of economic development. Public monies should, to the extent possible, stay local and be spent on locally based businesses. We need to address the inequities in our communities to ensure the growth and prosperity of our entire City as a whole, and I will be that voice for our communities in District 3.
Watson: In order to ensure equitable distribution of resources. We must give top priority in communities with less resources. Partnering with the community and organizations ensuring resource and funding for projects. Making sure that community members have first claims to ownership and resources in the improvements. Keeping the community involve in decision making and changes that are coming.
NUVO: How will you address the pothole problem?
Boots: Last year, the City-County Council unanimously approved a $400 million plan to improve Indy’s infrastructure, including funding for road maintenance and potholes. If I’m elected as Councillor for District 3, I will continue to work in a bipartisan fashion to find solutions to our City’s infrastructure problems. More particularly, I will lobby the Indiana General Assembly to adopt a more equitable funding formula that recognizes our numerous multi-lane thoroughfares. Geographically, Indy is larger in acreage than Atlanta, Cincinnati, Chicago, and even New York City. The current “lane-miles” based formula followed by our state legislature punishes Marion County to such an extent that many small towns and counties receive more State road dollars proportionally than Marion County. We should also explore allowing for more Marion County property and income taxes to be used for road funding. Finally, more of the State’s gas taxes paid by Indy families needs to come back to our local communities. It’s reported the average Indpls household contributes about $57.00 per month to the State in gas taxes; however, we only receive back an average of about $14.00, with the rest going to INDOT. While we (Marion Cty) represent 30 percent of INDOT's total assets, we receive only about 8 percent of INDOT's $1.2 billion yearly roads budgets. For 2019, through fiscal prudent management, the City has appropriated $126 million for road construction, bridges and other infrastructure projects. If we were funded equitably by the State, Marion County would receive about $300 million from the State. Thus, all things considered, the core problem with our infrastructure is the lack of appropriate and equitable funding by the State, and I will strive to change that.
Watson: I believe more funding in road repairs and maintenance would be a great benefit in combating this problem. I'm also a supporter of researching new technology and tools other cities around the country have found successful. Cities around the country have seen great success with changing materials used in fulfilling potholes. Also using technology to create a citizen hub where pothole can be reported via pictures, videos, or GPS trackers.
NUVO: What will you do to encourage the increased use of alternative (non-motor vehicle) forms of transportation in the city?
Boots: In late 2018, a Binford Redevelopment and Growth (BRAG) community survey identified trails and greenspace as a top priority in our District 3 area. I will be a strong voice and push for increased state and federal funding for the following trail and greenspace initiatives in our district:
- Implementing the White River Vision Plan, which is expected to restore the river’s environment and ecology while creating recreational trails and gathering spaces.
- Determining the future of the Nickel Plate rail corridor, which could become a multi-use trail that would provide recreation and connection for our neighborhoods.
- Studying the future of the Castleton and 82nd Street retail corridor and finding ways to transform that excessive retail space and improve its bi-modal accessibility.
- Pursue implementation of the Greenways Master Plan.
Watson: I think our city has done a great job with implementing bike lanes and sidewalks that foster more alternate transportation. Continued funding to ensure that bike lanes are increasing and being maintained would be beneficial. I will encourage incentives such as discounted parking and local perks for those who are taking new modes of transportation. I will support planning/zoning designated areas to park bikes and scooters. And I will support the new projects for our city buses. I will encourage businesses to research ways their employees can participate.
NUVO: How do you feel about decriminalizing possession of personal amounts of cannabis, as other large cities have done?
Boots: In Indiana, the decriminalization of cannabis is clearly a question of State law, over which Marion County has no statutory authority to change. Nonetheless, after reviewing the evidence and hearing the stories of many Hoosiers battling chronic health issues, including many of our veterans, there’s little doubt cannabis has medical value when used appropriately. Additionally, the prohibition of cannabis has caused systemic problems that are born largely by people of color in our community. While polling shows almost 3 out of 4 Hoosiers support medical legalization and/or decriminalization, our state legislature has refused to act. Notwithstanding the fact decriminalization is a State law issue, as a Councilor I would encourage the State to decriminalize possession of personal amounts of cannabis in order to create a more equitable criminal justice system, and to insure patients in true need receive life-sustaining care (instead of possibly being subjected to criminal charges).
Watson: I will support any proposal to decriminalize personal amounts of cannabis. Many citizens have spent jail time, paid hefty fines and legal fees over a plant. I believe anyone who's 18 or older can decide if they want to partake in these activities just as smoking Cigarettes or other tobacco products. Cities around the country have seen great monetary benefits with decriminalizing. Which in turn can be used for more city projects and investment in our communities. Decriminalizing cannabis will decrease criminal records and the stigma of felonies that our citizens experience when searching for new jobs and homes.