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Election of president, governor signals Hoosiers desire changes

November 10, 2008
Indiana's blue vote for president-elect Barack Obama on Election Day was a sign that Hoosiers are ready for change.

So was the state's red vote to keep incumbent Gov. Mitch Daniels in office. In this case, the status quo means more change. Daniels has been making gutsy and sometimes unpopular moves since taking office four years ago. He ran on a promise to keep shaking things up.

After three straight years of balanced budgets and economic development successes, that suits local business leaders just fine.

"Hoosiers embraced change at the state level," Greater Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce President Roland Dorson told IBJ. "I think they recognized and acknowledged in the voting booth that the past is a great place to visit, but you don't want to live there. They recognized Gov. Daniels' vision and gave him a mandate for change."

Daniels' win paves the way for his 2009 legislative agenda, which will include putting constitutional caps on property taxes, funding full-day kindergarten statewide and reforming local government.

Such reform took a big step forward Nov. 4 when voters in Marion, Hamilton, Hendricks and Johnson counties approved consolidating property assessment. Now, one county executive will have responsibility for the assessment of all property in each central Indiana county (and most other counties around the state). The referendum had broad support from the business community.

This should make for a more uniform, fair and efficient system than the current collection of township assessors, which has produced wildly varying assessments for similar properties in the same neighborhood.

Chalk up another victory for change.

The election process itself was also something of a victory. Marion County avoided some of the horrific problems of years past, when polls ran short of ballots and workers, and some opened late or not at all. Few problems were reported in Marion County, although in neighboring Hamilton County, many voters waited hours to vote, indicating that officials there still have a few things to learn about handling large turnouts.

But overall, we commend officials for running a smooth election with record participation and the eyes of the nation upon us.

Now we can breathe a collective sigh of relief, set aside our fixation with the campaigns, and move forward with the activity we've been delaying until "after the election."

The road ahead will not be easy. Daniels is a capable administrator, with vision and courage, but he is no magician. Surviving this economic crisis will take all the creativity he, and the rest of us, can muster. It's time to go beyond the slogans and get down to business.

Daniels said during his election night speech, "Never again will somebody be able to write that this is a change-averse state, this is a standstill state, this is a follower state, because Indiana has announced in the last four years and emphatically tonight that, not only do we accept change, we are prepared to lead change."

Let it be.

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