LEADING QUESTIONS: New councillor in for wild ride

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Leading Questions

Welcome to the latest installment of  “Leading Questions: Wisdom from the Corner Office,” in which IBJ sits down with central Indiana’s top bosses and civic leaders to talk shop about their latest challenges and the habits that lead to success.

Political neophyte Angel Rivera, 28, took the express lane to a seat on the City-County Council in March, becoming its first Hispanic Republican. Councillor Kent Smith had resigned to take a full-time position with the Indiana National Guard, leading to a special election to fill Smith's at-large seat.

A native to Puerto Rico, Rivera moved to Indiana in 2000 to attend Indiana University in Bloomington, where he earned a degree in political science. Along the way, he also served as chairman of College Republicans at IU. Starting a career in software sales, Rivera sated his craving for public service by serving on Indianapolis' Board of Public Works and the mayor's Latino Advisory Council.

When some friends joked at a lunch in February that he should run for Smith's vacant seat on the 29-member council, Rivera quickly began to take the suggestion seriously.

"When the opportunity came to have a 30-day or less campaign, it was too good to pass up," Rivera said. "I also live in the center of downtown, which means running as a Republican would be futile. So it's a good opportunity to serve without moving."

A special caucus of Republican precinct committee members elected Rivera from a field of 10 candidates. Due to the timing and his choice of council committees, Rivera quickly found himself on the front lines of several major issues, including the sale of Indianapolis Water to Citizens Energy, approval of the Capital Improvement Board's 2011 budget, and the city's controversial plan to lease its parking meters to a Dallas firm for 50 years.

"The first lesson is that this is not a part-time job," said Rivera, who remains director of business development for The Consultants Consortium, a local minority-owned software firm. "I'm sometimes a little overcome by the amount of energy it takes to be prepared, to be so informed that I can be a valuable addition to all those debates."

One way Rivera blows off steam is to jump on his Ducati SportClassic GT1000 and trek down to southern Indiana in his rapidly diminishing free time. In the video at top, Rivera discusses his initial experiences on the council, what he's learned so far, and how riding his motorcycle helps keep him mentally fresh.

When Rivera was elected, local Republican leaders touted him as a link to the city's growing population of Hispanic voters. Rivera himself said that one of his top goals would be to bring local Latinos closer to city government. In the video below, Rivera discusses his efforts to reach out to community members and address their concerns.


  • Pacers

    Talk to any economist, professional sports are not a good investment for a city. As far as you claim we would have to pay more if the Pacers left, right now we paid to build the building, are paying on the loan fro having built it, and now are paying the Pacers $10 million a year to run the place, while we let them have 100% of the revenue. What your comment leaves out - obviously - is if the Pacers left we could keep ALL the revenue on the building we're currently giving away. But, hey, let's not quibble with facts should we?

    Oh, and again, the Pacers would have had to pay a penalty of $150 million so they were never going to leave anyway...a fact you never heard from the CIB or the City.
  • scintillating?
    ...really, did you get a tingle up your leg too? this 'Angel' d-b is just the Latinoequivilent of Ryan Vaughn, an empty headed mouthpiece for the corporate hos he fronts for in City-Council...and like a typical Repig he'll say/ do anything to enrich himself at taxpayers expense! Oh and riding a 'Ducati GT1000' doesn't impress me a bit, it just screams even bigger D-B, next he'll be bragging about how big his BMW is or something, WTF?
  • Re really
    The over funded day care for the homeless ( libraries ) need to be cut more. If the pacers left town we would have a bigger bill to pay
    • Really?
      Really, Gary and Tan Guy? I'm not sure who you were talking to because it sure wasn't Councilor Angel Rivera. Rivera praised the City's decision to give the Pacers $33.5 million while libraries get cut. Rivera praised the CIB's fiscal responsibilty. (Enough said there.) Rivera supports a 50 year no bid contract to make a politically connected company over a Billion dollars at the expense of taxpayers. With Rivera you not only get a big spending, tax increasing liberal, you get a sellout who is one of the dimmest bulbs on the council.
      • the future
        He asks tough questions, is prepared to debate the issues, and seems like he truly cares about the business of the city. I don't know what more I'd want in a councillor. Plus he is a personable and engaging guy. We need more people like Angel in politics, on BOTH sides of the aisle.
      • Rising star
        I had a conversation with Angel this week and found him to have a scintillating mind and a great grasp of the City issues we were discussing. I am proud to know him and have him represent me.
        • Angel's Tired Act
          Hearing Angel at Council meetings is so depressing. Instead of having a conservative fighter for the taxpayer, we have yet another tax and spend Republican who carries water for the Mayor. I hate it when he opens his mouth and starts talking. Makes me ashamed to be a Republican.
        • Neophyte?
          It'd be great to ask him about his first campaign experience at IU while running for student body president in 2004. He was accused of and confirmed by the governing student body judicial board of financial/spending fraud and cheating; ultimately kicked out of the race. No wonder Tom John and the dope's downtown herded him into the seat. Just another sheep and the IBJ interviews this guy?

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        1. to mention the rest of Molly's experience- she served as Communications Director for the Indianapolis Department of Public Works and also did communications for the state. She's incredibly qualified for this role and has a real love for Indianapolis and Indiana. Best of luck to her!

        2. Shall we not demand the same scrutiny for law schools, med schools, heaven forbid, business schools, etc.? How many law school grads are servers? How many business start ups fail and how many business grads get low paying jobs because there are so few high paying positions available? Why does our legislature continue to demean public schools and give taxpayer dollars to charters and private schools, ($171 million last year), rather than investing in our community schools? We are on a course of disaster regarding our public school attitudes unless we change our thinking in a short time.

        3. I agree with the other reader's comment about the chunky tomato soup. I found myself wanting a breadstick to dip into it. It tasted more like a marinara sauce; I couldn't eat it as a soup. In general, I liked the place... but doubt that I'll frequent it once the novelty wears off.

        4. The Indiana toll road used to have some of the cleanest bathrooms you could find on the road. After the lease they went downhill quickly. While not the grossest you'll see, they hover a bit below average. Am not sure if this is indicative of the entire deal or merely a portion of it. But the goals of anyone taking over the lease will always be at odds. The fewer repairs they make, the more money they earn since they have a virtual monopoly on travel from Cleveland to Chicago. So they only comply to satisfy the rules. It's hard to hand public works over to private enterprise. The incentives are misaligned. In true competition, you'd have multiple roads, each build by different companies motivated to make theirs more attractive. Working to attract customers is very different than working to maximize profit on people who have no choice but to choose your road. Of course, we all know two roads would be even more ridiculous.

        5. The State is in a perfect position. The consortium overpaid for leasing the toll road. Good for the State. The money they paid is being used across the State to upgrade roads and bridges and employ people at at time most of the country is scrambling to fund basic repairs. Good for the State. Indiana taxpayers are no longer subsidizing the toll roads to the tune of millions a year as we had for the last 20 years because the legislature did not have the guts to raise tolls. Good for the State. If the consortium fails, they either find another operator, acceptable to the State, to buy them out or the road gets turned back over to the State and we keep the Billions. Good for the State. Pat Bauer is no longer the Majority or Minority Leader of the House. Good for the State. Anyway you look at this, the State received billions of dollars for an assett the taxpayers were subsidizing, the State does not have to pay to maintain the road for 70 years. I am having trouble seeing the downside.