Across my desk today comes a press release from Senator Jim Merritt, GOP candidate for Indianapolis Mayor, deploring the condition of Indianapolis streets:
INDIANAPOLIS – Current State Senator and Indianapolis Mayoral Candidate Jim Merritt laid the responsibility for the current pothole crisis on Mayor Joe Hogsett during an event held today at Clark & Sons Used Tires on the east side of Indianapolis.
“There are potholes everywhere – over 7,000 of them, according to the Indy pothole viewer,” Merritt said. “This is the direct result of a failure of leadership and lack of planning by Mayor Hogsett.”
According to Merritt, funds have been available to help fix the roads. “In 2017, the Indiana legislature appropriated $52 million to the City of Indianapolis to help fix the roads and I voted in support,” said Merritt. “Here we are again two years later and the city has practically nothing to show for it. The roads are in worse condition now than they were then. We’re going backwards.”
Merritt commented that the costs of the pothole crisis are hitting Indianapolis residents particularly hard. “The price of a new rim and tire on a minivan is $300 or more. Add the cost of having a tow truck take your car to the repair shop and you’re creating a hardship for countless people here in the city,” Merritt indicated. “That’s the cost of medicine for some people. Imagine having to choose between your medicine and groceries for the week or a new tire to drive safely. These are real choices that residents in Indianapolis are trying to deal with.”
Merritt emphasized that Mayor Hogsett’s administration has responded ineffectively to this crisis. “The money being spend now is reactionary. Paving now won’t fix the last three years of neglect by this administration,” said Merritt. “Last year, there were nearly 1,400 claims filed due to pothole damage to vehicles. Fewer than twenty of those claims were paid by the city. It’s obvious that Mayor Hogsett has a difficult time understanding the plight of hardworking citizens who face having to pay for unnecessary car repairs.” The concerns go beyond cost, however, according to Merritt. “Last month, the news reported about the very serious concerns of a local ER doctor who said that potholes are the biggest public health issue outside of opiates. He said an ambulance hitting a pothole can dislodge ventilators and IVs from infants, causing pain and life-threatening conditions.”
Merritt concluded his remarks by saying that the legacy of the Hogsett administration is a city filled with undrivable roads, frustrated citizens, and stifled economic progress caused by ignoring our infrastructure. “The taxpayers of Indianapolis deserve better. The hardworking people of Indianapolis deserve better,” Merritt emphasized. “A brighter future for Indianapolis must include a mayor’s office working proactively on the challenges our citizens are facing every day. It’s time for new leadership.”Senator Merritt is correct. Indianapolis' roads are in terrible shape. Traversing the city's streets requires constant dodging of potholes lest one end up with a flat tire or, worse, a bent rim. Likewise Merritt isn't wrong to raise the issue of Indianapolis' ever increasing homicide rate. But if Merritt thinks the issues of infrastructure and crime will propel him to the Mayor's Office, perhaps he'd be wise to learn the lesson of
In 2011, Democrat Kennedy lost her bid to unseat Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard. Republican Ballard's first term featured pot-hole filled streets and record homicide rates. Kennedy made those issues a central feature of her campaign. Even with a new Democratic majority in Marion County, Kennedy was unable to move the political needle enough to win.
Now, Merritt is trying to replicate the losing Kennedy strategy but from the Republican side. which is an even worse idea. While Kennedy at least had a new Democratic majority in Indianapolis which almost propelled her to victory despite her lackluster campaign, Merritt is now dealing with an electorate in which Democrats dominate. The only Republican areas left of Marion County/Indianapolis are the three lightly populated southern townships,
Merritt's narrow chance of winning the Mayor's race is to run as a non-traditional, populist Republican, someone who can identify with and zealously defend the interests of Indianapolis working men and women. But Merritt's entire political carer has been spent as a typical country club, corporate welfare- loving Indianapolis Republican. Does anyone think Merritt would not continue the practice of handing out taxpayer dollars to politically-connected contractors and developers? Does anyone think Merritt wouldn't reward big law firms in town with lucrative, no bid contracts for legal services that could be provided much cheaper (and often better) by smaller, less connected firms?
The answer to those questions is "no." Senator Merritt is not going to suddenly become a non-traditional Republican who puts taxpayers ahead of the corporate interests which dominate this city. That is the only type of GOP candidate who can now win in a city dominated by Democratic voters. Senator Merritt is not that person and has no chance of being elected Mayor of Indianapolis.