Friday, June 10, 2011

Feeney-Ruiz To Oppose Vop Osili For Council Seat

A.J. Feeney-Ruiz will fill the ballot vacancy in Indianapolis' 15th council district race where no Republican filed to run in the May primary. Feeney-Ruiz will face Democrat Vop Osili, the 2010 unsuccessful Democratic candidate for Secretary of State who lost to Feeney-Ruiz' boss, Charlie White. Feeney-Ruiz recently joined White's staff as deputy chief of staff and spokesman. Feeney-Ruiz faces an uphill challenge as the 15th District is one of the most Democratic-leaning council districts in Indianapolis.

His Democratic opponent is pursuing a challenge of White's election as Secretary of State currently with the state's Recount Commission, alleging that White was ineligible to seek the office because he was not legally registered to vote in the precinct in which he voted immediately prior to running for statewide. If Osili prevails in his challenge, White would be forced to step down and Osili would assume the office as the candidate who received the second highest number of votes in the 2010 statewide election contest. That could put Feeney-Ruiz out of his job and facing a different opponent in November. Regardless, it's good we'll at least have a choice in candidates on the November ballot. From Feeney-Ruiz' press release announcing his candidacy:

Today AJ Feeney-Ruiz, local entrepreneur and recently appointed deputy chief of staff and spokesman for the Office of the Indiana Secretary of State, announced his candidacy in the race for City County Council District 15 – which encompasses most of downtown Indianapolis. In his campaign for the seat vacated by outgoing Councilor Doris Minton-McNeill, Feeney-Ruiz is set to challenge Democrat Vop Osili. He will file necessary paperwork this afternoon.

The thirty-year-old Feeney-Ruiz has lived in or around Indianapolis since his mother moved him to the city at the age of two. He attended grade school a few blocks north of the district he seeks to represent, and settled in his current residence only a short walk from the City County Building with the influx of other young professionals relocating to the city’s heart several years ago.

“It’s time to provide a real voice for all voters new and old living downtown,” Feeney-Ruiz said. “There are thousands of new residents that have made this district their home in the last few years, and thousands more who have lived without the representation they expect, deserve, can depend upon or can be proud of. I’m running to give all of us a real opportunity to be heard and counted.”

A graduate of DePauw University, Indiana University – Indianapolis’ School of Law and the Kelley School of Business MBA program, Feeney-Ruiz hopes to apply his experience in the private, non-profit, and government sectors to his work for the city. He has served two Indiana secretaries of state and sits on Indianapolis’ Equal Opportunity Advisory Board. He also mediates discrimination disputes for the city on a voluntary basis. A second-generation Puerto Rican born in the United States, Feeney-Ruiz is a member of the National Association of Hispanic MBAs and a board member and Vice President of Public Relations for the Indiana Chapter of Partners of the Americas, which helps facilitate civic and cultural exchanges with Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil.

“AJ represents both the past and future of downtown Indianapolis,” Marion County Republican Chairman Kyle Walker said. “As an active member of the community dating back to his early youth, he is a visible and accessible face within the district. As a young professional and leader, he is well positioned to work with all residents in the heart of the city.”

Feeney-Ruiz’s top priorities in the council will be to cultivate public-private partnerships that build and strengthen neighborhoods outside of the immediate downtown area. He believes stronger neighborhoods are better equipped to fight crime, blight, and unite to advocate common sense reforms and improvements within the community.

Small businesses are the backbone of the city’s economy, and Feeney-Ruiz will work with the city and community organizations to help Indianapolis families turn their entrepreneurial dreams into a reality. He knows firsthand the difficulty of starting and maintaining a business, and will share that knowledge and fight for that ability for his constituents.

“My voters are my neighbors and this district is my home,” Feeney-Ruiz said. “This campaign is about giving us a chance to be heard in city government, to provide a real opportunity to work with our council and Mayor Ballard who together have carried Indy through some rough times.”

Feeney-Ruiz will begin campaigning this weekend by meeting downtown residents at the Indy Pride Festival, Center Township Fun Fest, Talbot Street Art Fair, the Independent Music & Art Festival and by going door to door meeting prospective voters.
UPDATE: The Marion Co. Democratic Party also today announced it has found candidates to run in four districts that were previously uncontested. Jared Evans will face Robert Lutz in the 13th District. Maxine King will face Marilyn Pfisterer in the 14th District. Todd Woodmansee will fill the 21st District vacancy opposing Benjamin Hunter. Finally, Mario Garza will run against Aaron Freeman in the 25th District. With the addition of these candidates today, virtually all of the current councilors will have re-election competition. Here's the biographical information the Democratic Party provided for their new candidates:

Todd Woodmansee was born in Indianapolis and is a lifelong resident of Indiana. Todd graduated from the University of Evansville in 1995. After Evansville, Todd graduated in the top twenty-five percent of his class from Indiana University School of Law in 1998. Todd has served as a Deputy Attorney General and Deputy Prosecutor in the Domestic Violence Unit. Todd has been a small business owner in downtown Indianapolis since 2003. Todd has been a resident of Irvington for ten years.

Maxine King is a dedicated public servant with a long history of advocacy and commitment to creating positive change in her community. A graduate of Indiana University Law School at Indianapolis, Maxine has been an attorney for nearly 16 years, practicing primarily in the area of family law. In addition to her work in private practice, Maxine also spent time as a Public Defender. Most recently, Maxine served as Judge of the Wayne Township Small Claims Court of Marion County, and prior to that, served as President of the Marion County Bar Association. She is also an officer in Gamma Phi Delta Sorority, Inc. As guardian to her nephew Joshua, Maxine values family and is committed to strengthening the educational opportunities for all children in Indianapolis. She has decided to run for the Indianapolis City-County Council in District 14 so that she can be a catalyst for change in her community and a voice for residents who share in her hopes for a stronger and safer city and county.

Mario Garza was born in East Chicago and has been an Indianapolis resident for 25 years, moving to Franklin Township in 1992. Mario graduated from Purdue University Calumet with a degree in Electrical Engineering Technology. He was appointed to the Indianapolis Fire Department in 1986 and has spent 25 years serving the citizens of Indianapolis. He currently serves as Lieutenant and Executive Officer for Battalion 2. He also serves his community as a board member for the Smithfield Neighborhood Association. Mario was awarded the Police, Fire and Sheriff’s award for Community Service in 2000 and recently received the Indianapolis Fire Department’s Peer Leadership award. Mario has a daughter and two sons.

Jared Evans learned at an early age the importance of respect, temperance, and a commitment to his community. The youngest of three children born in Indianapolis, Jared is the son of United States Army veteran Charles Evans. A graduate of Ben Davis High School, Jared was a three-sport athlete and was a proud member of the 2001 and 2002 5A State Championship football teams. After Ben Davis, he attended Purdue University and graduated with a degree in elementary education. While at Purdue, Jared was deeply involved in his community, working with the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity to strengthen West Lafayette and empower its residents. This commitment to community and helping others has motivated Jared to run for the Indianapolis City-County Council in District 13. Jared recognizes the importance of rebuilding infrastructure, spurring redevelopment, and reining in utility costs. He is committed to working with the residents of District 13 to strengthen their neighborhoods and ensure that residents are well represented in local government.


Paul K. Ogden said...

I'm not 100% sure of this, but I think if White gets removed by the Election Commission near the 2011 general election, Vop Osili automatically becomes Secretary of State. The D's will be past the deadline to replace Vop Osili's place on the council ballot and Feeney-Ruiz wins by default.

Advance Indiana said...

It didn't work out that way in the last election in this district when Patrice Abduallah resigned in August and the Ds were allowed to put Carson on the November ballot despite the passage of the deadline.

Paul K. Ogden said...

Gary, I'm reading over the statutes now. There is a lot of cross-referencing, but I'm not so sure what they did was right. You could read the statutes one way and say as long as they do it 30 days within the vacancy and more than 30 days from the geenral election the vacancy can be filled.

But I'm not so sure IC 3-13-1-7 would apply to a local race and that statute says it's 30 days of the vacancy and not later than June 30th.

With the poor drafting and the cross referencing, it's not black and white either way, at least as far as I can tell thus far.

Vox Populi said...

Isn't Ruiz the one responsible for directing voters to a phone sex line on primary day?

Paul K. Ogden said...

Meant to say:

"But I'm not so sure IC 3-13-1-7 would NOT apply ..."