Why THIS city election matters

All elections matter in one way or another.  Every elected official, no matter how unglamorous their office might seem or how routine their work is, has an impact on the lives of citizens in their communities.  The City of Richmond has had many elections before and will have many to come, and they will all matter in some way.

But we can't let the shared pastime of grumbling about the machinations of politics and the wearing complexity of government trick us into forgetting that, right now, for the future of our city, this is the election that matters.


As I campaigned during the primary season and met with concerned voters, business owners and community leaders, and as I've observed the economic, social and cultural forces at work in our area, I've come to see that the next four years are going to be a critical time in the history of Richmond, Indiana:

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Post-primary analysis

Now that we're a few days out from the primary election win, I thought I would share some reflections and analysis of the election.  Some of these may be obvious, especially to political veterans, but it's helpful for me to put them out there and see what other comments and analysis comes up.

On the election day results themselves:

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Chris wins in the primary!

In today's primary election, the citizens of Richmond made a choice about who they want to help shape the future of this community in the coming years. I'm grateful that in that process, voters have chosen me to continue on to the general election in the Fall as a candidate for City Council At-Large!

Some highlights from the unofficial results:

  • 14.46% of Richmond's registered voters voted
  • 54.92% of those voting chose a Democratic ballot over a Republican ballot
  • 791 of those voted for me to be one of the three Democratic candidates for City Council At-Large in the fall general election

This has been my first foray into politics, and it's been an incredibly rewarding journey so far. 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 few 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.

Today's win would not have been possible without the gracious support and enthusiasm of those who have lent their time and talents to my campaign in many forms.

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Scenes from election day

Today is election day in Richmond!  I hope that if you haven't already voted, you take the time to cast your vote at one of the three convenient voting centers in town, before 6 PM.  I'll be posting updates about the day on my Twitter and Facebook accounts and to subscribers of my mailing list.  The Palladium-Item is hosting a live chat all day long and you can tweet your comments/questions by including the hashtag #richmondvotes.

If you'd like to join me as the results come in tonight, I'll be on the third floor of the Richmond Municipal Building sometime after 6 PM.

All morning, I've been out at the voting centers greeting voters as they arrive.   It's been a little wet and chilly, but well worth it in terms of the great exchanges I've had with people.  Some things I've heard and seen:

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Scenes from Primary Season

Scraps of paper floating around my car with addresses scrawled on them for delivering yard signs and brochures.

Notes and programs from "must attend" (for a candidate, anyway) governmental and organizational meetings that seem to happen daily now, scattered across my desk.

People giving me warm "congratulations!" and me still not being sure if it's because I'm running for office or getting married or hired a new staff member at work or because I just did a nice parking job.  "Thank you, I'm very excited!" is a genuine initial response for all four cases, and context clues help from there.

Surreal experiences of driving down random streets and seeing my name on a sign up ahead, still a bit jolting each time, I hope it always will be.

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Going door to door

Today I spent some time with a few campaign volunteers going door to door in a neighborhood in Richmond to talk about my candidacy and to listen to what's on the minds of Richmond residents.

So far, this has been one of my favorite parts of running for office! It's easy to get caught up in the immediate (and sometimes misleading) feedback that comes with various kinds of digital promotion to groups of online contacts, so there's something grounding and balancing about being face to face with one person at a time, with only a few feet and maybe a screen door between you.  There's something very real about looking a stranger in the eyes while hearing about what really matters to them in an election.

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Put another white man in office?

As someone campaigning under the banner of bringing a fresh perspective and new voice to Richmond's City Council, it feels important to acknowledge one key way in which I would not be bringing anything voters haven't seen before: I'd be yet another privileged white male in a position of influence.
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Demystifying running for office

One aspect of deciding to run for City Council that took the most research was understanding just what the filing process looks like.  One might raise the question of whether the process is intentionally engineered to be a little mysterious and intimidating, if we didn't know that there are many parts of the government that are a little mysterious and intimidating.  🙂

So although I am myself very new to the process of running for office, I thought I'd share along the way what I've learned about how it works, in hopes that anyone who might want to join me or who might later follow in my footsteps can do so a little bit more efficiently.

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The dance of newcomer and incumbent

It's no secret that I'm a "newcomer to running for office" in this political race, and that this label lines me up to be one half of a long-running dance that newcomers and incumbents do as a part of political campaigns.

The newcomer says, "I'm here with fresh ideas and a different way of doing things, out with the old and in with the new, vote for me, change you can believe in!" and so on.

The incumbent says, "Why would you want to bring in someone who doesn't have any experience in this position, when you've got me?  I've been doing this for a while, I know how it works, I'm the best bang for your buck."

The reality, of course, is that both perspectives can be right.

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Chris Hardie Announces Council Candidacy

RICHMOND - Today local business owner and community volunteer Chris Hardie announced his candidacy for Richmond's Common Council At-Large.  Hardie, 33, has extensive experience in community building and a positive vision for the work of the Council.

"I believe that Richmond is capable of great things," Hardie said, "and I'm excited to be a part of a new generation of community leadership that can help make those things happen.  We can no longer afford to be paralyzed by the past and old ways of thinking.  It's time to move forward and I want to lead and join progressive thinking that will make us a more vibrant community."

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