Richmond's next Mayor

Pemaquid Point LighthouseWe're still some time away from the next Mayoral election here in Richmond, Indiana, but whoever is going to run and win to keep or take office in 2016 will have to begin their initial preparations this year.

(A number of people have kindly suggested that I would be a good candidate for the job. I appreciate this and I'm honored by it. But to be clear: I'm not running for Mayor in the upcoming election.)

Before the candidates announce themselves and the conversation becomes about those individuals and their qualifications, I want to share my own hopes for what Richmond will see in its next Mayor.

The legal requirements for running are pretty basic: "A candidate for the office of mayor...must have resided in the city for at least one year before the election." Hopefully we'll set the bar a little higher than that.

The below list is not meant to be a critique of our current Mayor or of any past person who has held the title, but rather a forward-looking inventory of what I think the city needs most right now:

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8 ways for the Wayne County Democratic Party to be more effective

Capitol Dome'Tis the season for political reckonings.  As the national Republican Party performs a messy post-mortem on its failed strategy to get Mitt Romney elected President, the Democratic Party in Indiana is also asking itself what it needs to do to be more effective.  The Indianapolis Star says that "Indiana Democrats have plunged to their lowest level of power in decades after Tuesday's election."

This week the Palladium-Item's editorial page rightly took the local Wayne County Democratic Party to task for being too quiet and minimally effective in local politics. (I am on the P-I editorial advisory board but I did not contribute to that piece.)  Today's edition features some analysis of the local party's current leadership, with about the amount of internal finger pointing you'd expect from an organization in some disarray.  It's the candidates! It's the leadership! It's the unions! We just need to get on Twitter!  And so on.

I've followed local politics for a while now, perhaps never so closely as last year when I was a candidate myself running on the Democratic ticket.  It was an eye-opening experience in many ways, including discovering first-hand the significant organizational deficiencies in the Wayne County Democratic Party (and how well-organized the local Republican Party is, due in no small part to the tireless efforts of its Chairwoman, Misty Hollis).  Unfortunately, I've seen some of those deficiencies come into play again in this year's campaigning.

Continue reading 8 ways for the Wayne County Democratic Party to be more effective

Are Wayne County's voting machines trustworthy?

Early voting is underway in Wayne County, Indiana.  Voters showing up at the polling stations will find themselves directed to the Hart InterCivic voting machines.

A 2007 study of these machines, initiated by the Ohio Secretary of State and conducted by Pennsylvania State University, the University of Pennsylvania, and WebWise Security, Inc. found that:

the Hart system lacks the technical protections necessary to guarantee
a trustworthy election under operational conditions...Virtually every
ballot, vote, election result, and audit log is forgeable or otherwise
manipulatable by an attacker with even brief access to the voting systems.

You can read a summary of the study or read the full 335-page report.

2012 Chamber Debate Bingo Cards

Tonight at 6 PM, the Wayne County Area Chamber of Commerce will be hosting a series of debates for candidates in various local, county and state races.   The debate is free and open to the public, and will take place at Vivian Auditorium on the IU East campus.  You can also watch the debates live on WCTV.

I hope local voters will watch the debates to learn more about the would-be elected officials who might significantly influence how tax dollars are spent, government is run, and children are educated.

But if you need another reason to watch, you can now download and print out my Chamber Debate Bingo Cards [PDF].

Each time a candidate says a phrase on the card, you mark off that square.  Get five in a row, and you've got a BINGO! (If you are attending the debates in person, please do not yell out "BINGO" during a debate session.)

Each of the 5 cards has a random ordering of phrases, so you can play against your friends and family.

Local elections have never been so fun!  Enjoy.

Wayne County 2012 election candidate information

Tim Russert's Office

(This blog post has been updated since the original publishing - see details below.)

This coming Wednesday at the Wayne County Area Chamber of Commerce candidate debates I'll be participating in some post-debate analysis with my colleagues on the Palladium-Item Editorial Board.

As a part of researching for that and for my own voting, I went in search of information that state and county candidates have made available online about themselves and their views, especially in contested races.

What I found was disappointing: state and local candidates are barely making any information at all about themselves and their views, plans and credentials available to voters.

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Removing straight party voting in Indiana - SB146

Hi-tech voting technologyIndiana Senator Mike Delph from District 29 has introduced Senate Bill 146 which would remove the option of straight party ticket voting from Indiana election ballots.  As Doug Masson notes, this change would probably favor the Republican party in most districts.

I think straight party ticket ballots generally only do a disservice to Indiana voters.

At best, it enables a kind of impulsive loyalty to a vague label that can mean very different things to different people.

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Chris supports local challenge to ballot law

This entry is part 12 of 20 in the series 2011 City Council Campaign

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:

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