Wednesday, November 9, 2011
Republicans Win Battle, Democrats May Win War
The Marion County GOP should be rightly excited by turning away a well-financed and dynamic challenger in Melina Kennedy for Mayor of Indianapolis as Greg Ballard keeps his office on the 25th Floor of the City-County Building for another four years, but the question is: will the Democrats have the last laugh?
Now, the ink isn't dry on this election, but come January, Ballard will still be Mayor, but he's going to have an entirely different political landscape to deal with.
Right now, Mayor Ballard's agenda has been the City-County Council's agenda for the last four years. He has had either 16 or 15 loyal Republican votes to count on almost every time. Gone are the loyal votes of Susie Day, Barbara Malone, and Angel Rivera. Gone is the wildcard of Ed Coleman.
Filling those seats are Frank Mascari, Zach Adamson, John Barth, Pam Hickman, and Leroy Robinson. Combined with the other Democrats that held their seats or were elected to the Council, there are now 16 Democrats to just 13 Republicans. Things would have been worse had Republican Jeff Miller not upset Dane Mahern in Council District 19. No longer can Mayor Ballard and his Republican handlers control the City-County Council. Ryan Vaughn is once again just a member of the Council and will not be President. You will see some give-and-take on both sides.
Let's also not forget that every elected executive office in Marion County with the exception of Mayor is filled with Democrats. That's not likely to change anytime soon. You an imagine that the blue Council will be a little bit more willing to listen to Democrats like Terry Curry, John Layton, Beth White, Joe O'Connor, Julie Voorhies, Debbie Jenkins, Frank Lloyd, Mike Rodman, or Billie Breaux than the red Council was. The budget could look a lot different in 2012.
Within the Democratic caucus, it will be interesting to see who emerges as the leader. You have, of course, many choices. There are many good choices, but there will also be a lot of, let's face it, egos and aspirations at work. The Democrats will need a Mayoral candidate in 2015, and I know that there are several sitting Democrats that would love to have that chair on the 25th floor in four years. Personally, I'd rather see the Dems nominate a hardworking Council President who is respected across the board. It's a big choice because this person will instantly become a foil for the Mayor. Too bad it's not Joanne Sanders.
On more personal matters, the biggest disappointment to me is that we won't have a true visionary as our Mayor. Melina Kennedy fought hard to get the seat, but the voters just didn't respond. I will probably try to analyze what happened and why voters didn't vote her way when I get a chance to look over things. I am honored to call Melina my friend, and I hope that she stays involved in politics and government.
I am also so excited to watch my friend, Zach Adamson, make the jump from community advocate to City-County Councillor. Zach wanted this job, and he's worked for it. I know the other At-Large Councillors did, too. Zach is one of my best friends, and I absolutely am honored to have been asked to be one of the honorary co-chairs of his campaign. My contribution was very very small to his win in comparison to the countless volunteers and helpers he had, but I'm honored to have been there with him since the start. I can honestly say I knew him before he was famous.
Also, I want to take off my hat to the entire At-Large Democratic team. They worked as a team, and they won as a team. John Barth, Leroy Robinson, Adamson, and Pam Hickman all deserve a big nod for being a constant, consistent, and active voice across Marion County these many months. Their efforts helped swing the Council blue again.
Democrats also took back Mayor's seats in Lawrence and Beech Grove. Congratulations to Dean Jessup and Dennis Buckley who knocked off incumbents to become Mayor of these two Unigov-excluded cities
Finally, I want to heartily congratulate Mayor Ballard. I know that I have disagreed with him, and I have been tough on him here. I will be tough on him again, but I must give credit where credit is due. He did do something very difficult to do, and that's hold on to his seat in a Democratic-leaning county. He should be commended for that.
Ok, I'm not going to go all mushy on Ballard. This is still politics, and the sun definitely is coming up tomorrow. Now, the Mayor has to do his thing, and the Democrats have to do their thing. The voters will be expecting results or else 2015's municipal elections will be another one for the ages. It's going to be a fun four years.