INIndianapolis will be holding its elections for Mayor and City-County Council in November, and the candidates will be talking about the issues that face our city–and hopefully, how they plan to address those issues.
It will be interesting to see how many of the challenges they identify are the same ones that mayors of other cities cited most frequently at a recent conference on the state of the nation’s cities.
Our annual State of the Cities report examines what is happening now in cities. The top 10 issues discussed by mayors in their 2015 State of the City addresses are essential to operations, development, and livability.
The analysis reveals what issues mayors are focused on by measuring the percentage of speeches significantly covering an issue. We examined 100 State of the City speeches in cities large and small, with a regionally diverse sample from across the country. These are the top issues that matter to cities.
The issues identified were, in ascending order of frequency, healthcare (especially in states that have refused to expand Medicaid under the ACA); demographics (race relations, cultural diversity, sexual orientation, and immigration); environment and energy (a category that includes public transportation); data and technology; housing; education; budgets; public safety; infrastructure; and economic development.
All of these issues face us here in Indianapolis. Unlike cities in states with genuine home rule, however, the ability of our mayor and council–no matter whom we elect–will be severely constrained by the fact that, in Indiana, municipal governments can do very little beyond what the state legislature in its “wisdom,” allows. (You will recall we spent a good two years begging the General Assembly for the right to decide whether to tax ourselves in order to expand mass transit.)
So–as the candidates mount their campaigns, hold “meet-and-greet’ events and fundraisers and otherwise make themselves available to We the People, in addition to asking about their preferred policies, we also need to ask them how they intend to work with our “overlords” at the Indiana General Assembly.