Saturday, April 21, 2007

Fishers - Rankings and Elections

Money Magazine issues an annual ranking of its top 100 places to live in America. My hometown of Fishers is ranked again, but slipped from its 2005 ranking of #24 to its 2006 ranking of #33. Link to rankings.

I'd love to see why the fall-back. Things don't look any worse for the wear here. Did we float enough bonds to make it so? Did the growing property tax bite cause the slide? I started looking for a more recent ranking and figured we must have fallen a touch since the Town Council isn't bragging it up anymore on the Town's website. Which all leads me to...

Many Fishers neighbors, and a few Geist residents, asked me to run for Town Council this year, on the heels of my recent campaign. I will not run. If nominated, I will not accept...

Why? It's just impossible for a challenger to win. Get a load of this, from the Town's website:
All councilors are considered "at large" which means all Fishers residents vote on all councilors, not just the councilor representing their particular district. The town council elects a council president and vice-president each year.

In other words, a challenger can win 100% of the votes in the district they would represent, but still lose in a landslide. Instead of having to campaign to 1/7th of the 60,000+ residents (there are seven districts), the challenger must campaign to all 60,000+. There just isn't enough time to go door-to-door in the whole Town. The kind of money needed to effectively reach everyone is about a quarter-million, in my estimation. The Councilors know this. There is no incentive for them to change it.

The at-large election of councilors is legal, by the way. Indiana Code even permits its towns to vote to make it so. (IC 36-5-2-5.b.2) Very thoughtful of state legislators to encourage unaccountable councils who can work to ensure their perpetual office. Very lousy for representative government. After all, why should a councilor listen to someone in his district when it really is the people outside the district electing him?

This set-up especially favors the dominant political party. Chances are, the average voter does not know any of the seven councilors. But if they do, they probably only know theirs. And yet, they will vote on all seven, and in all likelihood, will vote Republican, because the Republican Party is dominant in Fishers.

So, I won't run. It's too much to overcome. Plus, I have this crazy desire to remain married!

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

Yeah you're right. The process is much too difficult and expensive for you. There's no way that anywhere near a majority of Fishers residents would take you seriously. It would be impossible for you to get the financial support necessary and even if you could you would still end up losing on the issues. Good decision.

Mike Kole said...

Amusing response. See if the one challenger in the GOP primary tastes success. He has to go through the same process in the primary- not merely winning his district, but the whole Town.

Bob Thompson said...

One solution-term limits for Town Council members-Faultless et al have gotten too comfortable

Fishers Blog Boy said...

Mike, I thought this was a very insightful post. This should be brought up somehow for discussion at a Town Council meeting. (Unlikely, I know) You are exactly right regarding how impossible it would be for a challenger to visit all 70,000 plus residents, plus advertising, etc. It seems the only way for a new guy to get elected is for someone to step down, and then the Council would appoint a fellow party member. Art got "elected" to the Town Council by 6 people (or maybe just one or two of the dominant players) and will likely stay on the Council until he decides to step down. I like Art, he was the leader against the smoking ban in my eyes, but Rich has been very local on the internet about Fishers for the past couple years. He has some good ideas, energy,and most importantly he really seems to care about Fishers - somehow trying to slow down growth, etc. I wish him the best, but you're right on with your points.

Term limits are a completely different issue, not saying I would be against them, but it's no surprise someone who seemingly lives in Geist would want to get rid of Faultless and the gang.

fishers blog boy said...

Forgot to mention I wish you would have ran and won....but I'd rather you be married, happy and with your family. Knowing how you approach elections, they would have been all gone! ha!

Mike Kole said...

ffb- I could bring it up at a Council meeting, for all the good it would do. The Council gets to vote on whether or not to change the process, and it seems unlikely.

For my money, the Town Council should be strictly districted, with only the district voting on its representative. But I also think the districts should be re-drawn. They are absurd as they are. There was a time when it made some sense to have them as they are, as the Town had large areas of development interspersed with large undeveloped areas. That's no longer true, by and large. So, the Districts should be more like squares than the ridiculous shapes they are now.

This has been brought to the attention of the Council more than once, by many people of differing political perspectives, and the Council ignored it. I think that a proper re-districting would cause the elimination of at least 3 sitting Town Council members, and for that reason, the Council won't hear of it unless the pressure to change becomes enormous.

Perhaps it's time for another letter to the editor...

Fishers Blog Boy said...

I hear that Purvis (Dem) sought a hearing before the elections commission claiming the practice was not proper. They supposedly brushed it off and nothing came from it.

Mike Kole said...

The Commission would have no choice but to dismiss Purvis because the practice is legal. Ethical? No matter. It's legal.

Besides, it isn't just Republicans on the Commission. The Dems on that body know that while there are Republican dominated Town Council, there are also Democrat dominated Town Councils- both of which could lose seats if the process was strictly votes in-district. So, win some/lose some but by all means protect the incumbents is likely to be the underlying common ground.

Anonymous said...

Well the one challenger did pretty well despite the fact that he did no direct mail, handbills or home visits (not in my neighborhood anyway). Almost 38% of the vote. Also interesting how Faultless and Cordell tied in having the most votes of all the unnopposed candidates. Looks like Faultless has a lot of support for what he is doing. Purvis has come out against involuntary annexation, he won't have a prayer in November.

Mike Kole said...

It takes a real sycophant to claim an unopposed candidate shows real strong support by virtue of the result. By that measure, Fidel Castro and Joe Stalin enjoyed real strong support.

Anonymous said...

Voter had the choice of not selecting any of the unopposed candidates. All of the unopposed candidates had "some" votes cast for them (even Purvis). I was merely pointing out that those two had the most. Just a fact. Make of it what you will...

Traci Lipp said...

Mike,
I agree with you completely about the whole "at-large" process some of the Indiana towns have adopted. Running as the only Democrat for Speedway Town Council, it increases my marketing efforts from the five precincts in my District 5 (for the primary) to all 18 precincts in the fall election - that's over 13,000 Speedway residents I am now faced with reaching out to.
The system as it stands should not be legal, but it appears to be a futile effort to try to fight it (I have talked to attorneys about it already).

I respect your reasons for not running and I completely understand the need for you to have your spouse and family 100% behind you, in order to make this work. I hope that you will consider making another run for an office in the future, as I supported you in your previous run and would so again if you chose to run.

And while I'm wishing here: I sure wish you could find another Speedway town resident to run with me in the fall, as I have had no luck recruiting a fellow Democrat to run. Looking forward to lots of 4-1 votes in my future, I guess.

Send me an independent thinker who isn't afraid to ask the hard questions; regardless of party affiliation, this about much more than politics - it's about taking back some form of representative government in this state (and, for me, in Speedway specifically).
Please continue to fight on, Mike - there are a lot of us out here that would support you in a future run.
-Traci Lipp
Speedway Town Council candidate

Very Interesting said...

Only two people from the Fall Creek 15 precinct voted in the Republican primary. They both voted for Rich Bassett. Which Town Council member and his wife live in the Fall Creek 15 precinct?