The follow is a guest post by Jon Mills. Mills is the communications director for Democratic mayoral nominee Melina Kennedy.
I have 2 small children, and we often talk to them about the “choices” they have when making decisions. Tomorrow, our community faces a choice. To some, the choice of who to vote for might seem of little consequence because both Mayoral candidates seem like fine individuals. But even if both candidates are “good people,” this choice is important because it will shape Indianapolis’ future and will impact whether Indianapolis is a City in which our children want to live and raise their families when they grow up.
When I think of my kids, here’s what the election comes down to for me. We need a mayor with a vision for the future. We need results. We need a mayor who focuses on today’s challenges and tomorrow’s solutions, not the past. We need a mayor who understands that the choices we make today will have tremendous consequences for tomorrow. We need Melina Kennedy.
The incumbent frequently talks about how bad things used to be. And while I believe he has not made much progress on a variety of fronts, from joblessness to crime to education, I’m most concerned by his lack of vision for the future. Paving streets is fine, but it is not enough.
Sadly, Indianapolis used to be known as a regional leader; over the past four years we have fallen behind our peers. Take jobs and wages, as an example. The IBJ recently reported that, over the past 4 years, Indianapolis has lagged behind Cincinnati, St. Louis, Nashville, Pittsburgh, Columbus and Louisville in jobs and wages. We can do better.
Melina has put forth a plan that focuses on job creation where it most frequently occurs: small businesses and local entrepreneurs. Melina understands that attracting national and foreign companies to Indy is important, but unlike Mayor Ballard, she has specific plans to help local businesses grow jobs right here as well. She understands that we need to create an environment that inspires our brightest minds to stay and open their own businesses here.
Melina also “gets it” when it comes to education and improving educational outcomes of our children. She understands the link between success in school and success in life, and the impact quality schools can have on our neighborhoods, poverty, crime, and jobs. We also can’t afford to have more families leave the city out of concern for our schools. As just one significant part of her plan, Melina would take almost 1/3rd of the proceeds from sale of the water company and invest it where our educational leaders agree it will do the most good: quality early childhood education. When children arrive at school ready to learn, it pays long term dividends to our entire community in reduced crime, less poverty and better jobs.
I also agree with the police, the prosecutor and the sheriff, who have endorsed Melina because they believe she will do a better job reducing crime. My wife and I feel less safe today than we did four years ago. We are worried about car break-ins and home invasions in our neighborhood. We need a mayor who will work better with neighborhoods to reduce crime and make us feel safer. Candidate Ballard promised 750 new officers – Mayor Ballard never delivered them. Kennedy has a specific, achievable plan to put 100 officers back on the streets and return to true community policing.
The incumbent may be a decent guy who is trying hard, but we can do better. We need a leader like Melina who listens, inspires and leads with vision. Tomorrow we have an important choice – and I know that if we elect Melina Kennedy to be our next Mayor, we will be positioning this City well not just for tomorrow, but for the long term.