August’s Meeting… Ending On a Positive?

I just got home from tonights city council meeting and boy do I have some thoughts. Most of them unfortunately do not have to do with the substance of the meeting itself. So before I move on to that I want to spend a few words on what we came there to see.

Mayor Fadness presented his vision for the 2024 budget and what’s to come in the city for next year and beyond. They will be releasing this presentation shortly. The presentation was thorough, detailed and very well done. So I’d like to congratulate the Mayor and his team as my view was very positive on the overall plans. It was great to hear the word transparency invoked so many times and Councilor Weingardt invited the public to the Finance Committee meeting this Wednesday to learn more details.

Some takeaways include hiring more FPD and FFD personnel to lighten the burden on our first responders, a ramp up in fixing sidewalks and connecting our pedestrian paths, and finally finishing 141st/SR37. There was a good deal of time spent on a new initiative to support teachers. He is setting aside $500k to fund teachers looking for innovative approaches to learning. Details weren’t there yet but it is good to see some real investment directly in our teachers. As he mentioned, the schools are the core of our city.

There’s so much to get in to with the vision presented but I want to share my perspective on how the meeting ended. During the public comment period, after some perennial issues like road repair were covered we had a trio of commenters that brought the focus to the current political season directly. The first two offered a good summary on each side of the current debate happening around our library. Both Chad and Stephanie were respectful and offered a heartfelt personal plea that the city of Fishers support our children. While I certainly align my views with Stephanie and HSEqual I enjoyed the opportunity to talk with Chad and his wife after the meeting. We may not agree on the details but I support their voice and heard their perspective with open ears. Both sides of the isle need to do more of this. Issues can get difficult, never more so than when we are worried about our kids. It is the job of a leader to find the sensible middle ground. I know that is possible and will always work to draw down conflict and aim for sensibility.

The main reason I’m staying up late to get these thoughts out while fresh in my mind is the last public comment, which came from Doug Allman. I mention Doug by name because while I don’t know him personally I know he is a well respected member of our community who currently serves as the Fall Creek Township Trustee. When he spoke I listened to his words with respect for his history in this community, which he has earned.

I’ll start with a short summary of Doug’s points. He spoke from a historical perspective and aimed to show how this community is changing, particularly in this current political environment heading into this election. He mentioned his 37 years as a resident of Fishers and how he has never seen the sort of strife he’s seeing play out, particularly online. He brought up the tactics he’s seen from people outside our community ramping up tension, including seeing photos of his wife posted online. He quipped about people spending so many hours online posting negative things. He finished up with a warning that some have voiced thoughts of moving away.

You know what, on many of his points, he’s right! Those of you who know me closely know I rarely spend time on social media. This is why, I don’t enjoy it. It brings out the worst in us, both sides ratcheting each other up. Yes, it is vitally important that we hold officials accountable and sharing your opinion online is one way to do that. Going to meetings and speaking is another way. But we’ve moved beyond that and Doug is not wrong to wish for something better. And yes, we’ve seen people come from outside the community and rile up meetings. The right did it last year with the school board and with a change in leadership we are seeing it come from the left on the library board.

I get it, I have the same feelings over here Doug, it’s too much. But there’s a piece to this puzzle you didn’t mention.

The reason things were quiet and calm before is very obvious and very simple. For its entire existence, the people of Fishers have only had one choice for their representation. Do you believe that there truly wasn’t a large group of people that see things differently? Of course not, but with no one to vote for they stayed home and they stayed quiet but they didn’t stop keeping score. This isn’t just a left/right split. Trust me, I know from talking to people on their doorsteps that there’s a big undercurrent of Republican voters that also want things done differently. This isn’t simply an issue of outside forces or online name calling. People want choice and Fishers has changed. Mayor Fadness has worked hard to attract the best and the brightest, now they are here and come with all sorts of new perspectives.

All that said, I do not believe this negativity is good for our community. So I’ll share an observation publicly that I’ve shared privately many times. John Weingardt is the candidate who will be your other choice if you live in the South Central district. And the truth is, he’s a really amazing guy. We’ve shared many conversations, he’s helped out my neighborhood when I reached out to him, he genuinely nice and he has a great family who I’ve also met. His heart is in the right place as a community servant, and if I do win this seat I hope he will be available as a mentor. That may sound crazy but the thing is I’m running for something, not against someone. We don’t agree on some things that are particularly important if you are guiding a city, and that’s where it ends. After the meeting we shook hands as he have many times before and commiserated about the current state of affairs. 

And John invited me to get some coffee. I’ll be there John.

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