I find myself in an awkward situation. I have been an early Melina Kennedy supporter. I co-sponsored a fundraising event for her at iMOCA a few months back. I think she would be an excellent mayor of Indianapolis. I love her passion for the arts and small businesses. I still plan on voting for her. But lately I have been reconsidering our current mayor.
Like many Indy residents I was shocked when Greg Ballard beat out Bart Peterson in 2007. He won mostly on the hot topic of property taxes. The voters were all riled up over that for about 2 weeks and misdirected their anger towards Peterson. I think most observers would agree that it was a perfect storm that no-one saw coming. Ballard became the accidental mayor.
When it comes to national politics I tend to vote Democratic. The current national Republican party scares the shit out of me. The Tea Party has pushed them into a ideological corner where the earth isn't warming, "intellectuals" are mocked, all regulations are worthless and government of any shape or form is intrinsically evil. It's a party that would throw Reagan out on his ass if he walked through the door today. Governing is about compromise and that's a language the Tea, er, I mean, Republican Party doesn't speak.
But Indiana Republicans are cut from a different cloth. Sure they skew right on social stuff but can often find middle ground. They get that government isn't intrinsically evil- it's a mix of good and bad just like us- maybe because we are government!
In the 2008 election I was a strong supporter of Obama and Mitch Daniels. I had yard signs for both in my yard which amused, and confused, my new neighbors. "What's up with those youngsters?" I remain a fan of both politicians and was very disappointed to see Daniels not pursue the presidency. I don't think he would have won but I do think he would have elevated the conversation.
When Ballard took over as Mayor I feared for the worst. He was a complete unknown with almost no experience governing. But he has been surprisingly competent. The police debacle could have been handled better and I'm sure his detractors can put together a long list but (as David Hoppe noted in this week's Nuvo) he has kept the ship running, and running pretty well, during some stormy weather.
Greg Ballard is a shy, introverted guy. He is not a politician by nature. He is straight forward, speaks his mind and focuses more on action than talking points. It's an approach that resonates with me and others. Could he do better on communicating vision? Sure, but actions speak louder than words.
Ballard has done a great job of building a forward looking team that cares about Indianapolis. I have worked closely with Deputy Mayor Michael Huber on several ideas/ventures. I am consistently impressed by Huber. He is a hard worker with great instincts who knows how to connect the right people to get things done. He also has great taste in music which doesn't hurt.
Melina Kennedy is an excellent politician. She remembers names, makes eye contact, using talking points and has a great vision for this city. But she needs to step up her game to win this one. Ballard is figuring out this Mayor thing and only looks stronger as we head into the last lap.
So I have a hard choice to make but it feels good to know that either way the election goes, Indianapolis wins.