Pat Andrews is tired of two-minute time limits when she speaks at City-County Council and committee meetings.If you were looking for a candidate who is more familiar with the city-county budgets and how local government operates, you would be hard pressed to find someone more qualified to serve on the council than Andrews. She has devoted countless number of unpaid hours as a leader studying the issues, attending meetings and speaking out at council meetings more than any other community activist. I venture to guess she has spent more time in her volunteer role for MCANA than most of the 29 current members of the city-county council who are paid to serve. Council members of both parties have applauded her nonpartisan contribution to the debate, even if they often ignore her recommendations.
So she's seeking to join the council next year -- and, if she wins election, she would move from being one of the council's most outspoken watchdogs to having a say in its decisions.
Andrews says she will run as a Democrat for one of the 29-member council's four at-large seats. She has joined a crowded field seeking the party's at-large nominations.
Andrews made a point of attending many of the council's budget committee hearings this year in her role as vice president for the Marion County Alliance of Neighborhood Associations, often asking council members probing questions. She also became a vocal critic of decisions including the Capital Improvement Board's $33.5 million financial assistance package for the Indiana Pacers and the funneling of property tax money to the CIB.
To prepare for her run, the Southwestside resident resigned her MCANA position.
Andrews attributed her decision to run to a growing frustration at the council's workings and a realization that "the decisions were being made outside of the room."
"It seems like it's actually very difficult to impact the decisions getting made as a member of the public," Andrews said. "The public needs someone who will be listening before the decisions get solidified."
I told a Democratic friend of mine Democratic mayoral candidate Melina Kennedy and the Marion County Democrats would be foolish if they didn't include Andrews on their slate of four at-large candidates. My friend, who also respects Andrews a lot, doubted she would be slated because of the push for diversity among the at-large council candidates, the perception by some Democrats she is a Republican and her lack of participation in enough party events and activities in the past compared to other declared candidates. I guess some people confuse having a depth of knowledge on the issues as being too much of a bad thing in the Democratic Party. Knowledgeable people are more difficult to control. The friend said the Democrats would welcome Andrews running for the open seat in her district, which is currently represented by Bob Cochrum. Of course, that district is so Republican it would be an exercise in futility to run as a Democrat for that seat.
Even if she is not slated, Andrews will have an advantage many other candidates will not have in that her last name begins with the letter "A". In Indiana, people are placed on the ballot in alphabetical order, a rule people like myself whose last name begins with a "W" finds unfair. If there is a crowded field of candidates, being first on the ballot has its advantages. As of today, however, Andrews' name will not appear first. Zach Adamson, an openly gay salon owner, would earn the top spot. He is expected to be slated in keeping with the Democratic Party's diversity effort. Joanne Sanders, the only current Democratic at-large councilor, is seeking re-election and will be re-slated; the other two slots are expected to be awarded to African-American candidates. Some are hoping Vop Osili, the party's candidate for Secretary of State in this past election, will agree to run for one of those two spots. You may recall in 2007 three of the Democratic Party's at-large candidates were African-American.
As an elected Republican precinct committeeperson, I can't help but observe there is so much more interest in general on the Democratic side in the council races. The Republican Party has zero outreach efforts. It has alienated most of the base that made its 2007 municipal election wins possible. While some of the Democratic candidates have been out raising money and reaching out to voters for the past year, the Republicans currently sitting on the council, except for Christine Scales, have been doing their darnedest to piss all over the people who put them in office in 2007. Pity the Republicans. Who will they find to help them in the 2011 election with that strategy? The answer is simple. It will consist of people who have government jobs, people seeking government jobs, people who have contracts or work for employers with government contracts and people who lobby for those with government contracts. In other words, the people who bothered to show up for Ballard's re-election announcement yesterday. I really think those are the only people the party cares about anymore. If you are only a member of the party for ideological reasons, you are despised. You won't be appointed to any board. Your ideas will be ignored. You may as well get lost as far as they are concerned. Favorable demographics allow the Democratic Party in Marion County to have that attitude. The Republican Party has no margin for error but you would never know it based on how the party is governed by its leaders. I guess the Republican Party would rather have the people with ideas on the outside pissing in than on the inside pissing out. That's not a winning strategy in this county. It'a also the reason the Republican Party is condemned to have a very poor caliber of candidates on the ballot in 2011 and be stung badly at the polls.