In today's election, the citizens of Richmond made a choice about who they want to help shape the future of this community in the coming years. While I am of course disappointed that I was not elected to City Council, I am grateful for the votes I did receive and for the amazing support I've had along the way.
Some highlights from the unofficial results [PDF]:
- 5,945 voters voted
- 2,717 of those voted for me to be one of the three members of City Council At-Large, 201 votes short of a win
This has been my first foray into politics, and it's been an incredibly rewarding journey. As I've walked through neighborhoods in Richmond, I've had a chance to hear from residents here what issues matter most to them. As I've sat down with community leaders and decision-makers, I've learned about the complexities of building a thriving city in tough economic times. As I've talked with supporters and members of the media, I've enjoyed being challenged to communicate my hopes and views concisely and authentically. In these last nine plus months I've come to appreciate how much important work there is to do in this great town, and how many opportunities we have to make it better.
I congratulate the winners of today's election, and wish them the very best as they take office or continue in their existing roles. I ask each of them to stay true to the promises they've made during this election, and to hold themselves accountable to the ideas and vision that they set forth in their campaigns.
My campaign would not have been possible without the gracious support and enthusiasm of those who have lent their time and talents in many forms:
Continue reading Chris's campaign concludes, work continues
The Palladium-Item has an article out today noting an increase in homicides here over the last year compared to previous years.
I want to be careful to say that I don't write about this trend in this space with any promise or implication that my election or anyone else's could prevent individual crimes or save lives. We know that no elected official and not even the best trained and funded police forces can prevent individual violent crimes when there are so many other background factors that go into these horrific events.
But I think our reaction to this trend as a community will speak greatly about our future prospects for building a version of Richmond that is safe, vibrant and thriving.
Continue reading Violent crime in Richmond
As a part of conversation amongst candidates for office in this election, some of us found that there was a common theme emerging about our emphasis on and commitment to honoring and upholding basic principles of elected office.
That conversation has resulted in the creation of "A Pledge to Voters" - a promise that myself and several other candidates - including Libertarian candidate Matt Hisrich and Republican candidate Misty Hollis - are making as a way of indicating our commitment to honesty, diligence, transparency and respect. We might hope that these values are a given for our elected officials, but in today’s political climate I think it’s important to reaffirm our commitment to them, especially as we ask for the public trust in return.
The full text of the pledge is below. I thank Matt and Misty for their commitments today, and I would encourage all of my fellow candidates for Council to sign on to this pledge, even at this late stage of the campaign, to show their commitment to these values if they are elected or re-elected. Continue reading A Pledge to Voters
One of the things I've gained during this campaign is a new appreciation for how challenging it can be to produce and facilitate a meaningful and substantive political debate that is valuable to voters. Between the spring primary and the general election, I can think of at least eight events where myself and some combination of other candidates for office were asked to debate (or converse, or discuss) the issues facing Richmond and Wayne County for an hour or more.
At each event, as a candidate I've tried to balance a series of (sometimes competing) goals for my participation, including:
Continue reading The balancing act in political candidate debates
A recent editorial in the Palladium-Item again called for candidates in this City election to provide more detail about the specific changes and tasks we will take on if elected to improve City finances and the community as a whole.
I feel confident that in my own campaign I've provided a thorough look at how I would approach my role as a member of City Council. I've posted a consolidated list of my views on a number of issues facing the community, I've continued to post updates and more thorough commentary on the topics that have emerged in this election, and part of my history in this community as a volunteer is some extensive writings on my personal website about Richmond and our approach to governance and community building.
Continue reading A Plan for Richmond
Last night was the second scheduled event during the general election cycle when candidates for an at-large position on City Council got together to answer questions from people in the community about issues facing Richmond. More so than the Chamber-sponsored debates last week, I thought the questions posed by attendees revealed a lot about what's on the hearts and minds of members of our community.
We were asked about education, access to affordable housing, how to pay for proposed improvements in City government, the local Latino population, the community's relationship with its workers, what we can do to keep more college graduates here, whether Council members should be injecting themselves into private business decisions, and more.
But I think the one question that was probably most piercing for all of us was from Toivo Asheeke, who asked what we as Council members would do to restore a sense of hope and empowerment to people who live in Richmond. It's a huge, important, emotional question, and as Toivo was quoted as saying in today's Palladium-Item, our answers as candidates were indeed "insufficient."
As candidates running for one seat on a 9-seat local legislative body in a small city in the Midwestern U.S., it might be tempting to shrug off the call to play a role in restoring hope and empowerment in our citizens. And politicians should rightly be careful to make promises they can't keep - if you believed the statements that sometimes came out of President Obama's election campaign, for example, as soon as he was sworn in there was going to be so much hope and empowerment flowing in the streets we'd choke on it; how's that working out for us?
But I do think restoring hope and a sense of empowerment is something City Council can impact here in Richmond, and that's what I said last night:
Continue reading Our 'insufficient' answers about hope
As complex human beings, it can be hard to communicate all that we stand for and all that we've experienced in casual social interactions. "Hi, I'm Chris, let me tell you about the past 34 years of my life in the next 2 minutes...." When it goes beyond communicating to trying to persuade someone of something - that they should vote for you, for example - it can be even harder to efficiently sum up what you're about in meaningful, authentic ways.
This is surely part of the utility, then, of having political parties: "Democrat," "Republican" and "Libertarian" (to name a few) are labels that help us identify a set of beliefs and values that a particular candidate might stand for and bring to their approach to governance.
But in recent years, the wordsmiths of the political machine have diluted many of these labels, and candidates and politicians who say they stand for one thing and then do other things have further made those labels less meaningful to voters. And just because we have labels to help us, we can't forfeit our responsibility to truly understand what a candidate stands for and how they would represent us.
This is where the "So What?" test comes in.
Continue reading Political parties and the "So What?" test
The Times of Northwest Indiana published an editorial at the end of August, reprinted in today's Palladium-Item, noting the importance of screening candidates for office on their views about public access laws. Since increasing the transparency and accessibility of the work done by Richmond's City Council is a primary part of my own interest in serving on Council, I appreciate this emphasis.
In the editorial, five questions were posed as suggestions for citizens to ask of candidates, with the imperative that "andidates who seem to lean toward secrecy should be rejected."
I'm posting my answers below, and I hope my fellow candidates will also make their views publicly known during the campaign.
Continue reading Chris responds to public access questions for candidates
There are all sorts of ways the electoral process isn't optimized, either in making it more difficult than is necessary for voters to conveniently and clearly express their vote, or in making it more difficult than is necessary for some kinds of candidates to have a fair and equitable chance of receiving those votes.
We certainly don't need to be adding new ways to complicate the process or confuse voters, which is why Chris Hardie supports a recent legal challenge, initiated locally in Richmond by a number candidates and voters, to the recently amended Indiana Code 3-10-6-7.5 which says that you can't hold an election for an office when a candidate is unopposed. As noted in recent articles in the Palladium-Item and in today's article, the challenge hopes to undo this bit of legislative hand-tying before the ballots are printed for upcoming Richmond city election.
Here's the full statement Chris's campaign released to the media earlier this week:
Continue reading Chris supports local challenge to ballot law
It's been an interesting experience to watch the 2012 budgeting process for the City of Richmond, being performed by the very City Council that I aspire to join. If I'm elected, I'll be a part of a city government that is operating under the budget that's now being considered, so it feels even more important than usual to understand how the City is deciding where and how to spend money.
As I watched various department heads present their requested budgets for the upcoming year, I observed a few things:
- It's been taken as a given that there will be no changes in compensation for any city staff. I'm not sure if this happens because it's made clear at the outset that requests for compensation increases will be rejected, or because the staff already know that to be true, but it's got to be a challenging experience for city workers who know that cost of living is increasing and their own pay is staying level. I know that when the citizens of a community are feeling limited in their own financial situation, it can be an easy target to claim that this person or that person in government is making too much money, and I'm sure in some cases, those claims might be true. But I would also hope that as a community we can recognize the value of having our city run by professionals who are compensated fairly and equitably for their work. Continue reading On the 2012 City Budget Process