Mayoral candidate Jefferson Shreve affirmed that he would not have a plan to work on Black issues faced by the Black community in a meeting with Black leaders.
Of course, this was odd given that he was preparing for a debate on Black issues at the time.
But it is not like information wasn’t provided about these and other specific concerns of Black Indianapolis.
The information provided to both mayoral candidates in preparation for a debate on Black issues included data from focus groups, community meetings, an extensive community wide survey as well as a detailed report of social and economic data on the challenges and opportunities faced by Black Indianapolis.
Both mayoral candidates were asked for their plans for how they would partner with Black leadership on the challenges faced by Black Indianapolis.
What does a plan do for a mayoral candidate?
A plan that outlines policy ideas and commits to working with Black leadership provides for accountability. It acknowledges that there are unique issues faced by Black Indianapolis. It also demonstrates interest and even concern for a significant proportion of the Indianapolis community (Black Indianapolis is nearly the size of Fort Wayne).
It is hard to imagine running for mayor and rebuffing motivated and well-resourced Black civic leaders seeking to partner on the most pressing issues impacting the city with the largest Black population in the state.
That might work in Washington DC politics, but it’s about as un-Indianapolis as it gets.
And the contrast can’t be more real.
Mayor Hogsett has developed a plan to work with Black leaders to move Black Indianapolis forward which I understand they plan to release soon.
The community must decide the merits of the Hogsett plan.
The issue is Mayor Hogsett has a plan to work with Black leaders on our challenges and opportunities. Why doesn’t Jefferson Shreve?
In the last municipal election cycle the Republican mayoral candidate had a plan to work with Black leadership on Black issues.
Even “45” had a Black agenda—the Platinum plan.
Governor Eric Holcomb had a plan to address racial equity after the riots downtown following the murder of George Floyd.
But even before George Floyd’s murder, Republican mayors have always engaged the Black community and Black leaders on specific issues impacting the Black community.
Mayor Greg Ballard championed Your Life Matters, an initiative focused on Black males. He also made minority business participation a key talking point for his administration.
Black employees at the city county building still talk about how Mayor Stephen Goldsmith listened to them. Mayor Goldsmith was seen as fair and an out of the box thinker.
It was Mayor Goldsmith’s administration that launched the creation of the Indianapolis Commission on African American Males.
The late Mayor William Hudnut championed infant mortality, an issue that has disproportionately impacted the Black community for years.
Black folks will vote for Republicans when properly engaged. This isn’t a partisan thing—it’s a capability and connection thing.
If you don’t have the capability to figure out a plan to work with Black leaders to move the city forward—why even run for mayor of Indianapolis?
To not have a plan to work on the most pressing issues with Black leadership in a city with over half the state’s Black population is to be disconnected and unprepared.
In the Black community when we are deemed unprepared, we are disqualified.
It also implies that this type of leader plans to do things to the Black community instead of with the Black community.
The Black community does not need a savior. There are efforts underway by Black leaders and Black organizations to move our community forward.
Black Indianapolis seeks a partner for our progress.
If you are running for mayor of the city of Indianapolis, you must have a plan to work with Black leaders to move the city forward. Period.
Why doesn’t Jefferson Shreve have a plan?
Marshawn Wolley is the AACI Policy Director