In an effort to make sure our readers are informed when they go to the polls to vote in the Nov. 5 general election, the Recorder sent a questionnaire to candidates for city-county council and mayor.
In the interest of brevity, only races with more than one candidate were included, and only candidates who appear on the ballot were included. Answers have been edited for clarity and brevity.
Note: *incumbent, I = Independent, L = Libertarian, G = Green Party
MAYOR OF INDIANAPOLIS
Joe Hogsett, D*
Why are you running? During my time in office, I have been squarely focused on working to bring Indianapolis together as one city. I have lifted the city’s 35-year moratorium on new streetlights and laid out a plan that will invest $400 million on Indy’s roads, streets and sidewalks over the next four years.
I have also launched a comprehensive public safety and criminal justice reform effort, which includes overseeing a return to community-based beat policing and creating a team of Peacemakers working in high crime areas, as well as creating the first Criminal Justice Reform Task Force in Indianapolis. Working together with the city-county council, we have invested more than $300,000 in comprehensive neighborhood-based crime prevention efforts and expanded our community grant program for crime prevention, including investing nearly $4 million in programs to address the root causes of violent crime.
What issues would you like to address in office? Improving infrastructure, increasing public safety, criminal justice reform, balancing city budget, economic development and affordable housing.
What else should voters know about you? Over the last three years, we have seen incredible achievements in Indianapolis. While thousands of good jobs have come into our city, with new companies investing in Indianapolis every year, we must be focused on inclusive growth, to ensure that new opportunities benefit all of Indianapolis’ residents. That’s why I commissioned an independent disparity study to assess the barriers faced by minority-, woman-, veteran- and disabled-owned businesses that contract with the city, through the Office of Minority and Women Business Development.
We still have serious challenges, and there is a lot of work left to do. I am running to once again be your mayor, so that we can build on our achievements, and continue to lift up our city, as one city.
Jim Merritt, R
Why are you running? After record homicides in the last three years and not seeing a change of course from the current mayor, I decided I needed to step up. Infrastructure, public safety and pride in the city are my concerns and the concerns of most citizens. I have proven leadership qualities that have come from serving as an elected state senator for many years, which I will bring to the mayor’s office.
What issues would you like to address in office? Public safety, infrastructure and pride in the city.
What else should voters know about you? I learned that far too many disparities exist among our communities, which have caused deserts to exist within the African American community that have long been ignored in housing, education, economic development and public safety. People in power either by design or by accident have neglected communities of color and I realize, even in the spirit of goodwill, that some decisions I made have adversely impacted certain populations. I am grateful for this opportunity to be mayor of Indianapolis and repair some systemic issues that have plagued our city.
Douglas McNaughton, L
Why are you running? I am running for mayor of Indianapolis for three basic reasons: I firmly believe that Indianapolis deserves to have real choices in whom they choose to run this city. I believe strongly in the old adage of teaching a man to fish, although I don’t mind sharing the fish during the learning curve. I believe I can do a better job of improving the economic and social climate of this city than has been done in the past because I believe in doing what works, not simply what a political party or existing organization would have me do.
What issues would you like to address in office? Infrastructure, violent crime and homelessness.
What else should voters know about you? I am an automation engineer who travels around the world in the course of my job. I have seen many different solutions to the problems that cities have, and I have a unique and varied perspective of them. I have been wearing an artificial leg since childhood, so I know that large obstacles can be overcome with effort. I was raised in a small town, so I have seen what can be accomplished with limited resources. I work for a Japanese company and know what it takes for people of different backgrounds to work together. I am not a career politician looking for my next stop on the ladder. I truly want to make the city a better place for everyone and I am convinced I can do a better job than what we have had in the past.
MAYOR OF LAWRENCE
Jamar Cobb-Denard, D
Why are you running? I am running because I believe that the city of Lawrence can do better. Cities around us are growing, but Lawrence has seen stagnant growth for a generation.
What issues would you like to address in office? Tourism, grocery stores, connecting districts with trails and making it easy to do business.
What else should voters know about you? As a former business owner, former member of the Indianapolis Board of Public Works and Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law graduate, I am qualified to take Lawrence to the next level.
Steve Collier, R*
Why are you running? Did not respond to specific question
What issues would you like to address in office? Finishing redevelopment of Fort Harrison, infrastructure and collaborating on Cultural Campus project.
What else should voters know about you? Did not respond to specific question
Leroy Robinson, D* — did not respond
Richard Anderson, R — could not find contact information
Keith Potts, D
Why are you running? I believe that Washington Township deserves a councilor who understands the value of hard work and is dedicated to lifting up every corner of the district.
What issues would you like to address in office? Infrastructure, local economy and public safety.
What else should voters know about you? When it comes to any issue, vote or decision, I will listen to as many perspectives as I can to make an informed decision with the best interests of all of District Two at heart. As a young, proud union member, and member of the LGBTQ community, I will bring a fresh voice to advocate for our entire district. I believe we need to focus on bringing evidence-based solutions to the table.
Colleen Fanning, R* — did not respond
Dan Boots, D
Why are you running? As a lifelong Hoosier, I have seen our city change and grow dramatically. Our unprecedented growth has brought with it new challenges and opportunities for our city to invest in economic development, public safety, infrastructure, expanded greenspaces and strong neighborhoods. This is a pivotal point in the future of our northeast Marion County community.
What issues would you like to address in office? Infrastructure, economic revitalization, education, greenspace, beautification and trash reduction.
What else should voters know about you? I’m committed to making Indianapolis a better place to live, work, play and raise our families. I have been endorsed by the Indy Chamber Business Advocacy Committee, the Metropolitan Indianapolis Board of Realtors (MIBOR), Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky, state Rep. Carey Hamilton, Marion County Sheriff Kerry Forestal, former Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry, current Marion County Prosecutor Ryan Mears and current District 3 Councilor Christine Scales.
Dan Jones, R
Why are you running? I have over 30 years experience in local government finance. I retired two years ago from my position with the Indiana Department of Local Government Finance (DLGF) and my former positions with the Marion County Auditor’s Office and the City of Indianapolis City Controller’s Office. After retiring, I started to feel my experiences were needed to solve many of the current problems facing our city.
What issues would you like to address in office? Infrastructure and violent crime.
What else should voters know about you? I have successfully worked with the city-county council while I was with the city and the county, and I’m aware of the challenges ahead. I have also worked with the Indiana General Assembly to address other problems facing local governments across Indiana. I want to use that experience to solve many of the problems confronting Indianapolis.
Ethan Evans, D
Why are you running? I am running to provide better governance and responsiveness to the needs of all of those in our community. We have many significant issues that need attention, including racial disparities in employment and education, poverty, mental illness, creating economic growth without displacement, safety, infrastructure, schools, and food deserts.
What issues would you like to address in office? Infrastructure, public safety, wages, mental health care services and homelessness
What else should voters know about you? As a community activist for the past few years, I have stood for those without a voice. I take an active part in police and community conversations aimed at improving relations. As a proud union member of AFSCME Local 827, I stand in support of workers’ rights and livable wages. I support public educators and believe more can be done to support our public school teachers and students. Additionally, I volunteer with the Kheprw Institute and Lawrence Community Gardens.
Michael McQuillen, R*
Why are you running? I would like the opportunity to serve the men and women of city-county council District 4 for another four years. There are many issues such as public safety, infrastructure, workforce development and education that I want to help address as we move forward.
What issues would you like to address in office? Public safety, infrastructure, workforce development, education and violent crime.
What else should voters know about you? I am always available to our residents with their questions or concerns and ask for their support to represent our neighborhoods on the council for another four years.
Alison Brown, D
Why are you running? I am running because I believe in good government, building up our communities and protecting the most vulnerable, and the current councilor and those prior to him haven’t done any of these things. I want to go to the city-county building to lift families up and be your voice.
What issues would you like to address in office? Affordable childcare, public safety, workforce development, mass transit and infrastructure.
What else should voters know about you? I am a mother, a community activist and a leader.
As a progressive leader in Indianapolis, I have been a leading voice in building up vulnerable communities in our state. With a strong background in community development and organizing, I was the first person hired for Freedom Indiana in our groundbreaking campaign to protect LGBTQ+ rights in the Hoosier state.
Since then, I have worked with the Indiana Federation of Democratic Women, Indiana Stonewall Democrats, Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky, and Indiana Young Democrats, among others, to fight discrimination and help all Hoosiers.
Adam Cox, R — did not respond
Crista Carlino, D
Why are you running? I’m a lifelong westsider, professional tenured educator, librarian, public servant, activist and mother. I will bring my knowledge and pride for the west side into my service on the city council. I have experience serving the students of Indianapolis since 2009, and even serve on the Indianapolis Public Library Board of Trustees. As a mother, I recognize just how critical it is to keep our neighborhoods safe, while building the Indianapolis of the future for our children. I have a track record of partnering with community and private organizations to reach a common goal. From grant writing to managing large budgets, I have the 21st century leadership experience we need to lead our district for the next four years.
What issues would you like to address in office? Infrastructure, wages and communication between public safety initiatives and neighborhoods.
What else should voters know about you? If elected, I will be the youngest woman to ever serve on the city council. Our campaign is looking for volunteers to help us flip this long-held Republican district and bring about positive changes to our communities. Learn more at www.CarlinoForCouncil.com, and please consider making a small contribution of time or funds.
Janice McHenry, R*
Why are you running? I care deeply about our neighborhoods and Indianapolis. I want to see our city be the best it can be – a place where people want to live, to raise a family and continue to live after their family is grown, a place where new businesses will want to locate and existing businesses will want to stay and a place where people will want to visit to enjoy the many attractions we have to offer.
What issues would you like to address in office? Public safety and fiscal responsibility.
What else should voters know about you? I am accessible by phone, email or when out in the neighborhoods. I listen to what my constituents have to say and visit neighborhoods and attend meetings and events to learn more. I communicate with the residents by email, Facebook and a website. I am honest in what I say and do. I am very dedicated as I retired from teaching so I could be a full-time city-county councilor and work tirelessly for our area.
John Barth, D — did not respond
Stu Rhodes, R — did not respond
Monroe Gray Jr., D* — did not respond
Patrick Midla, R — could not find contact information
William Oliver, D*
Maggie Lewis, D* — did not respond
Clancy Arnold, R — could not find contact information
Vop Osili, D* — did not respond
Evan Shearin, R
Why are you running? I'm running because I'm frustrated by seeing our city in decline, and by the inaction and poor action of our leadership. Despite promises made to the contrary, we're now on our way to our fifth year of record-breaking murder rates, we're nationally known for horrible roads, and we have a growing homeless population. In the last several years, we've also seen the city council rocked by scandals. In that same time, they've raised taxes on scooters, food and beverage sales, sporting events and more. And then, almost exactly a year ago, they tried to nearly triple their own salaries. And, with all of this going on, my councilor has never responded once to one of my emails, tweets or phone calls.
What issues would you like to address in office? Crime, roads and homelessness.
What else should voters know about you? I was born and raised in Indianapolis. I earned my bachelor's and Master of Business Administration from the University of Indianapolis. I'm a veteran of the U.S. Navy, and I currently work as an IT administrator for a health insurance company. I'm also a member of the American Legion, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the Murat Shrine and the Indiana Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons. I've previously worked in housing grants and programs for the city and state of Indiana.
Robert Blake Johnson, D* — did not respond
Jerry Mahshie, R — did not respond
Justin Harter, L
Age: Not provided
Why are you running? There are two questions we should ask ourselves about almost every question that comes before the city council: Will this raise wages and income for people? Will this make the area a place people want to live in, visit and work? If the answer to either of those questions is “no,” it’s probably not a good idea.
What issues would you like to address in office? Matching grants for road paving and infrastructure, converting New York and Michigan streets to two-way roads and doubling down on urbanism and what makes Indianapolis great.
What else should voters know about you? Did not respond to specific question.
Keith Graves, D*
Age: Not provided
Why are you running? Our neighborhoods should have a council member who isn’t afraid to fight for them, and as a veteran of both the Army Reserves and local government, I’m not one to back down from a fight. I’ve proudly served my city and my country, and I would be honored to continue that service as a representative of the homeowners, taxpayers and all the hard-working folks who call our corner of the city home.
What issues would you like to address in office? Community revitalization, community care and criminal justice.
What else should voters know about you? I am running for city-county council because I know District 13 the way only a tireless member of our community can. An Indianapolis native, I served 13 years in the U.S. Army Reserves after graduating from Broad Ripple High School and Indiana University. I believe we can come together to solve the problems we all face as a community.
Jay Thompson, R — could not find contact information
La Keisha Jackson, D* — did not respond
Karl Henry, R — could not find contact information
Derris Ross, I — did not respond
Jessica McCormick, D — did not respond
Andy Harris, R — did not respond
Ronald Wiggington, I — could not find contact information
Kristin Jones, D
Why are you running? I am running for city-county council because I love my community. I’ve lived in District 16 for 25 years with my husband and two children and have served as a volunteer for Mary Rigg Neighborhood Center, Concord Center, West Indy Public Library, our local churches and Riley Children’s Hospital. Currently, I am the director of community engagement at The Julian Center.
What issues would you like to address in office? Road repair, sidewalks, more bus stops and connecting people to resources.
What else should voters know about you? If you don’t know anything about me, please remember two things. First, I am relentless, and second, I get results. I ask for your vote on Nov. 5 and look forward to continuing my service to our community.
Laura Giffel, R
Why are you running? I am running to ensure that neighborhoods have an independent voice on the council. I have been a neighborhood leader and advocate since moving into our community and believe that the issues brought to the council are too important for politics to get in the way.
What issues would you like to address in office? Funding plan for infrastructure, public safety, responsive government, abandoned houses, landlord registry and tenant rights.
What else should voters know about you? As a neighborhood president, my experience and leadership best prepared me for this position. Councilors must understand the day-to-day issues in our neighborhoods and work to find solutions in and outside of the city-county building.
Mike Smith, G
Why are you running? I am running to fight for the working class, against special interests, to remind the government that it works for us and to build true, viable, organic community.
What issues would you like to address in office? Better roads, public schools, transportation, getting rid of corporate influence over government and building a trickle-up economy.
What else should voters know about you? I am a U.S. Army veteran and a proud member of the SE Working class task force.
Zach Adamson, D*
Why are you running? I’ve been involved in community development as a neighborhood president for eight years, neighborhood board for 12 years, 10 years on the board for a community development corporation and 15 years on the Near Eastside Community Organization board.
What issues would you like to address in office? Quality of life, economic viability of neighborhoods in the district and engaging the community at all levels.
What else should voters know about you? It is my honor to serve the people of District 17. I’m proud of the work we’ve done together and the milestones we’ve reached. I pledge to continue to be dedicated, accessible and engaged in improving the quality of life for every resident of District 17.
Tom Sutton, R — did not respond
Antonio Libscomb, I — did not respond
Paul Copeland, L — did not respond
Duane Ingram, D — did not respond
Michael-Paul Hart, R — did not respond
David Ray, D* — did not respond
Anthony Mendez, R — could not find contact information
Phil Webster, D — did not respond
Jason Holiday, R* — could not find contact information
Frank Mascari, D* — did not respond
Tyler Richardson, R — did not respond
Jared Evans, D* — did not respond
Jason Richey, R
Age: Not provided
Why are you running? To mobilize our community, raise awareness and foster support to implement policies that will improve the standard of living for every District 22 resident.
What issues would you like to address in office? Economic development, public safety and curb appeal.
What else should voters know about you? I’m committed to working for the residents of west Indy to ensure our city continues to strengthen over the next decade. Indianapolis is rich in diversity with great families, schools, neighborhoods and growing communities. I understand that we must keep moving forward and it’s time for a change in leadership. I’m committed to making Indy greater by working to engage, enhance and enrich the lives of all of west Indy’s residents.
Beverly McDermott-Piazza, D — could not find contact information
Paul Annee, R — could not find information
Ben Brown, D — could not find contact information
Michael Dilk, R — did not respond
Justin Braun, D
Why are you running? My grandpa Jenson was a city councilor in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, for decades, so I had the privilege of watching how proud it made him to serve the people of his city. That is what I want to do for the residents of Indianapolis, particularly the people who live in District 25.
What issues would you like to address in office? Road safety and economic development.
What else should voters know about you? I’m ready to get to work and I want to hear from them. My contact information can be found at jbraun4indy.com.
Brian Mowery, R* — did not respond
Contact staff writer Tyler Fenwick at 317-762-7853. Follow him on Twitter @Ty_Fenwick.
Some candidate answers included in the digital version did not make it into the print version because the candidate didn't respond by the deadline.