Sunday, November 1, 2015

What You Need to Know About Joe Hogsett

My friend Joe Hogsett and I at Mel's Drive-In
I couldn't believe he was there, but he was.

Joe Hogsett was at my mom's funeral home viewing.  He could have been anywhere on December 30, but he was walking into Conkle Funeral Home in Speedway.  I smiled.

I remember exactly when I met Joe Hogsett.  In 2004, Joe was about to be named the Indiana Democratic Party candidate to take on Steve Carter, the incumbent.  The odds would be long, but there was Joe Hogsett giving a ceiling tile rattling speech in the 7th District Caucus Meeting at my first state convention.  I was impressed.  I shook his hand, and he looked me dead in the eye with that look only Joe could give you, "Joe Hogsett, and I'm running for Secretary of State."

Our friendship grew over the next few years as I'd see Joe at events.  It became our thing that he'd grab my hand and say, "Joe Hogsett!"  It was as if he was introducing himself for the first time.

When he ran for Mayor briefly in the run up to 2011, I had already committed to Melina Kennedy before he jumped in because Melina was and is a good friend, too.  He completely understood and still bought my dinner at the IDEA Convention in French Lick.  Had Joe continued on, I would have honestly had a very difficult decision to make.

He suddenly dropped out of the race, and it became known that he was in line to become U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana.  Before his confirmation, at a political event, he told me, "I won't be able to even think about attending a political function like one of these while I am U.S. Attorney."

I only talked to him twice while he was in office in that capacity.  I invited him to be on my radio talk show on Indiana Talks.  He initially confirmed that he could come on.  A few days later, he called me back and said that he needed to decline my invitation because he didn't want it to appear that he was being any way political by coming on my show.  Of course, I respected his decision, and he was probably right.  The last thing I wanted to do was to be a problem for him.

When he resigned from his job as U.S. Attorney, everyone knew what was next.  The first time I saw him in four years was at the 2014 United Democrats Picnic at the Pagoda in Garfield Park.  "JOE HOGSETT!"  He said as he grabbed my hand with that smile.

Since then, I've been dedicated to helping Joe become Mayor of Indianapolis.  It's one of the reasons I decided to run for office in District 20.  Hopefully, I thought, I can bring Joe a few votes by motivating Democrats to come out to vote.  All that remains to be seen.

But, back to December.

Joe Hogsett never met my mother, but I had told him about her and her about him.  My mother always admired Joe despite the fact that she was a stanch Republican.  But here was Joe Hogsett at my mother's funeral viewing.

He came in and he spent time talking to my entire family.  He especially spent time talking to me and my brother about what it would be like for us now that both of our parents were gone.  He talked about how that moment forces us to face the fact that the older generation is gone or going and we are replacing them.  He also expressed his deep condolences and gave us some more too personal advice from his own life to share here.

After he was done talking to us, Joe went to my mother's casket and bowed his head.  I don't know what he said.  It was too quiet to hear.

He gave me a hug, and he left.

It had spent about a half an hour talking to me, my brother, and my family, but he made an impact on me and my brother.

I've seen that Joe a few times again on the campaign trail as he's listened to people's stories.  I saw it in Decatur a few months ago as he knelt down to hear from a Democrat Club member who had lost his wife to cancer.  Anyone that's seen that Joe knows that he's going to be a great Mayor because of his empathy for people.

I had not planned to write about this personal story, but I thought you all should know why I'm so passionate about my friend Joe Hogsett and why I'll be a proud resident of Indianapolis when he's my Mayor.

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