It’s time to choose who will be the next Mayor of Richmond, Indiana.
Over a year ago I wrote about the things I’m looking for in Richmond’s next Mayor. Since then, we’ve had an exciting campaign season, which has been covered extensively by the Palladium-Item and WCTV. Anyone who wanted to follow the candidates and their public statements has had plenty of opportunities; some of the recent highlights include:
- Candidates face downtown audience, September 1
- City Republicans say no to Dems debate plans, September 12
- Mayoral Debate video, September 30
- Mayoral hopefuls tout their plans, September 30
- Candidates answer budget questions, video, October 14
- Candidates talk dealing with crime and drug problems, video, October 15
- Candidates differ on approach to crime, October 15
- Candidates on work force, jobs, October 16
- Candidates discuss how to bring jobs to the city, video, October 16
- Ingram spends more than five times his opponent, October 16
- Candidates on parks, city website, video, October 17
- Dave Snow is best to lead Richmond, October 18
- IN Focus Candidate Forum video, October 22
- Apology highlights civil mayoral forum, October 22
I stated my support for Dave Snow during the primary and I have continued to support his campaign since, but I also went into the general election season with an open mind and a keen interest in other candidates and the vision they might share for Richmond’s future.
For anyone who followed Kamara Gard’s candidacy on the Libertarian ticket, it was clear from the beginning that she was not a serious contender. I feel embarrassed for her and for the Libertarian party about how her campaign unfolded and then came apart. This is especially true because I want to admire people who put themselves out there in this way, and I value the need to move beyond a constraining two-party political system. The local Libertarian party has made good and steady efforts to this end, so it’s unfortunate to think that these missteps will set them back in significant ways with the local electorate, hopefully not permanently.
Kyle Ingram may be the most well-meaning, kind, authentic, intelligent and visionary person this city has ever seen, but if any of that is true his campaign and supporters did a poor job of helping those qualities shine through. Instead he came across as arrogant, mean-spirited, tone-deaf and in the Mayoral race for all the wrong reasons, even citing Donald Trump as a model. Senior figures in the local Republican party seem to agree, privately confessing their disgust with Ingram’s candidacy. Ingram seems to shun the ideas of openness and transparency in government, and his campaign spent much time deleting online discussion threads that weren’t to their liking. His Roadmap to Revive Richmond, to which he referred almost exclusively when asked any policy or issue questions, is a short, vague and lackluster document that raises more questions than it answers, hardly the comprehensive plan he made it out to be or that a curious voter would need to make an informed decision.
The only time I felt like I was hearing from someone who wasn’t entirely the product of shrewd political posturing was perhaps his 1-hour interview with Phil Quinn, where he at least acknowledged some of the perception issues he faced and got into the nuance of his thinking more than anywhere else I’ve seen. That was a candidate I wanted to hear more from — perhaps Mr. Ingram should ask his paid consultants for a refund and hire Mr. Quinn the next time around. Buy local and all that.
No, Dave Snow is not the perfect candidate and would not be a perfect Mayor. He brings his own flaws, gaps in knowledge or experience, and places where he doesn’t appeal to some voters. But in every conversation with, debate against and public statement from Dave over the last several months, he consistently brought a strong, forward-looking vision for the future of Richmond, a firm grasp of the details, data and complexity that go with municipal governance (or a humble willingness to admit where he needed to learn more), and a deep respect for the people he is seeking to represent, even when he disagrees with them on policy issues. Combined with his extensive skills, relevant management and marketing experience, grounding in this community and pure excitement about making Richmond better, I continue to think he is the best choice for Mayor.
Of course the question is whether voters will pay enough attention to notice the difference.
It’s tempting to think this battle has been waged and won through the many Facebook comment threads, blog posts, billboard displays and media pieces that some of us pay attention to. But I think the reality is that a pretty small number of people will show up to the voting booth having done any significant research on candidates for Mayor and Council, and the rest will vote because a candidate name seems familiar, a party affiliation seems important, or an influential friend’s recommendation comes to mind. I’ve been that voter myself in times past. Given our historically low voter turnout, this probably means our next Mayor could be elected not because of what they’ve done or said in their campaign, but in spite of it. I hope I’m wrong about that.
Either way, it’s time to choose so that we can all move forward and do our best to make Richmond a better place. Voting is happening now. If you’re eligible, please take the time to learn, decide and vote.