In the 13 years since The Howey Political Report has been publishing, we've never witnessed more Hoosiers protesting a wider array of issues at the same time. The anti-incumbency mood is at its most pronounced since our first year - 1994. On Monday, dozens of citizens vented before the Indiana Tax Commission hosted by State Sen. Luke Kenley prompted by high property taxes. Dozens of tax protesters were tossed out of the Indianapolis City-County Council meeting as it voted in $90 million in new income taxes . . . In Muncie, organizers are planning a noon "Jam In" designed to bottled up traffic in downtown to protest high property taxes. Gibson and LaPorte County officials are bracing for the kind of tax storm that has already taken place in Indianapolis and Elkhart. There have already been multiple property tax protests outside the Governor's Mansion, Monument Circle, the Indiana Statehouse and the Indianapolis City-County Building . . . It reminds us of a speech then U.S. Rep. Lee Hamilton gave to the Indiana Democratic Editorial Association in August 1994 when he said "Sometimes when I'm standing at a public meeting I feel a curtain drop between me and the people I'm talking to. I'm a politician and therefore, they say, my word cannot be trusted." It was a precursor to the 1994 election that changed control of the U.S. and Indiana Houses of Representatives.
IUPUI Political Science Professor Bill Blomquist sees political implications here in Indianapolis for Mayor Peterson and city-county councilors who voted for his 65% increase in the county option income tax. "There are definitely political implications," he tells WTHR. "The council members are more vulnerable because they don't have the name recognition and financial resources of the mayor," Blomquist said, "So, if anyone's really on the line about [the vote] it's the individual councilors who voted for the increase." Blomquist notes the fallout is already helping the mayoral candidacy of Greg Ballard. "For Greg Ballard, lightning strikes and you get an opportunity, an opportunity to get a little more press coverage, to have people want your take on an issue," he said.
Of course, there are some incumbents sailing along on Cloud Nine without a care in the world. "I assure you many [in my district] were for it because they saw where the money was going. They hate the tax, but they like the result," Scott Keller (R) said. "I think people in those areas hit hardest, like Meridian-Kessler and Butler Tarkington, if they're not satisfied that there will be a reduction in their taxes (due to reassessment) the tendency will be to 'throw out the bums." I take it Keller hasn't bother to talk to his own constituents about this matter. As the Star's analysis of the property tax assessment increases in Marion Co. revealed, some of the hardest hit areas were in his own district. Councilor Dane Mahern's district abuts Keller's district. Mahern cited the disproportionate increases in his district as one of the reasons he voted against the mayor's tax increase plan.