Monday, April 29, 2013

At-Large Councillors Could Jump to Other Races

The passage of SB621, the Unigov reform bill, means many things. The parts that impact Marion County and Indianapolis government the most is the massive amount of power that the Mayor of Indianapolis gets over the City-County budget, including those of independently elected, constitutionally mandated county officeholders. But the part of the bill that received the most attention was the portion that dealt with the membership of the Indianapolis-Marion County City-County Council. As of January 1, 2016, the council will go from a 29 member body to a 25 member body. It would do so by eliminated the At-Large seats that represent the entire county.

This means that none of the current At-Large councillors, all Democrats, will be able to run for re-election for that seat.

So what would they do? While I have not heard any rumors of what they may do, I do have a working knowledge of approximately what political districts they reside in. So this is simply a list of what they could do, not what they may do.

Leroy Robinson lives in Pike Township within Council District 7, represented by Council President Maggie Lewis. He is likely represented by Democrats in both houses of the state legislature as well. A primary challenge to any of those incumbents is highly unlikely, though he has challenged

Zach Adamson lives in Council District 16. District 16 is represented by Brian Mahern, a fellow Democrat. Mahern has ruffled some feathers for being the most open and vocal critic of Republican Mayor Greg Ballard. And within the Democratic caucus of the City-County Council (and, in general, the Democratic Party of Marion County), there is the "go-along-to-get-along" crowd and there's the opposition. Adamson is firmly in the opposition camp, and if there is an attempt to get Mahern off the council, I doubt Adamson will be the person to do so. His policies line up more closely with Mahern than anyone else on the Democratic caucus

John Barth lives in the Butler-Tarkington area. The general Broad Ripple-ish area of town is one of the few Republican leaning parts of town that isn't in the southern part of Marion County, so running in that district might not be the wisest decision. That part of town was in a fairly close Indiana Senate election, where Scott Schneider narrowly defeated Democrat Tim DeLaney. While things look pretty grim for Democrats running for state legislative seats outside of Marion and Lake County, there's a lot of room for improvement in Marion County's state legislative districts.

Pamela Hickman, who was appointed to the At-Large nomination in 2011 after Joanne Sanders announced she wouldn't run for re-election, has taken a few shots at elected office before. In 2007, she lost in the Democratic primary for council district 4, which is currently represented by Republican Christine Scales. Scales won what may be one of the narrowest victories of a council district election in November 2011 by less than a hundred votes from a well-funded Democratic challenger. Hickman also ran in the 2008 election for Indiana House District 87, currently held by Republican Cindy Noe Democrat Christina Hale.

Based off of this analysis, I think Barth and Hickman probably have the most options open to them. Hickman probably stands the best chance of staying on the council if she chooses to run in her district. The options appear far fewer for Robinson and Adamson, but a lot could happen in two years.

And I'd like to apologize for the errors surrounding District 87. Thanks to Wilson and Zach for the corrections.


  1. Are you sure that south Broad Ripple is Republican-leaning? I think it's pretty split or even slightly Democratic. I thought the Republican area of the district was more in the Nora/Meridian Hills part, and our neighborhood is usually combined with them in our legislative districts.

  2. Cindy Noe lost her race last year. Dist 87 is now held by Dem Christina Hale. Thank God.

  3. Good question, Kevin. When we're talking low turnout municipal elections, I certainly think the greater Broad Ripple leans Republican. Ryan Vaughn won re-election over Len Farber by about 1,500 votes. Some might argue if the Democratic candidate had more name recognition (which someone like John Barth certainly would have) or was better funded, it'd be a different story. I'm sure that, like much of Marion County, it is trending to become more Democratic since we did have that extremely close Senate race in the area. But right now, I'd give a Standard Republican candidate an edge over a Standard Democratic candidate.

    Worth noting Vaughn's vote was down a lot compared to 2007.

    The other thing I didn't bother addressing in this post, frankly because I didn't feel like pulling out a precinct map at midnight to find out exactly where boundaries are, is the new council districts. The boundaries are not easy map reading and while only two incumbent district councillors are in the same new district (Evans and Mansfield), it might throw the At-Larges into different districts depending on exactly where they live.

  4. John Barth built huge county wide name recognition and has a handy issue to pummel Repubs with in the power grab. Barth for Mayor!!!

  5. I think you'll find that John Barth's council district is currently occupied by Monroe Gray. The "Broad Ripple" district is occupied by Will Gooden, who was appointed to fill Vaughn's position there. Since Gooden wasn't "elected," I'd guess the Democrats might try a bit harder to win that seat than they did against Vaughn, who was pretty popular in the area.

  6. Barth would not be in Gooden's (Broad Ripple) District.


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