|Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard|
Democratic councilors report to me that Mayor Ballard has made no attempt to build relationships with them during the past four years. There is no communication between Ballard and Democratic councilors. The only exception appears to be Democratic councilor Jackie Nytes who is not running for re-election.
If Ballard is indeed re-elected, it is almost certain he will face a strong Democratic majority on the council. It's unlikely the 2007 turnout will be duplicated, a turnout which allowed three Republican at-large candidates to win. The Democrats should sweep those four seats. That alone gives the Democrats a 16-13 majority. Then you have three Republican councilors - McHenry, Scales and McQuillen - in Democratic majority seats. (McHenry's seat, in particular, is now more than 60% Democrat.) It's not a stretch to say that 2 of those 3 will probably lose. That would make it 18-11. Then you have Republicans like Council President Ryan Vaughn, Susie Day, Ben Hunter and Marilyn Pfisterer who are all in competitive districts and could lose.
Meanwhile the Republicans have a shot at only one Democrat, Dane Mahern, who is in a marginally Republican district on the near south side of Indianapolis.
If the Democrats were to take out Vaughn, Day, Hunter or Pfisterer, it's possible that the Democrats could have a veto-proof majority on the council. While it is unlikely the Democrats will get to 20 seats for that to happen, it is certainly possible.
If Mayor Ballard runs ahead of the county's Republican baseline vote, which I expect at this point, he could end up being re-elected with a strong Democratic majority on the council. How would a Mayor Ballard deal with the Council Democrats? Can Ballard change spots and become the type of politician who can work across the aisle to put together bipartisan coalitions for his agenda? Or would Ballard use executive orders and entities like the Metropolitan Development Commission to work around the Council?
I have not seen much to suggest that Ballard has the personality to schmooze councilors on the other side of the political aisle. I am afraid if divided government is the result of next week's election, we will see more policy and projects bypassing the purview of our elected council. It is a dangerous trend that is certainly not confined to Indianapolis municipal government.