Who's best for small biz, Ballard or Kennedy?

May 4, 2011
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Just about everyone familiar with Indianapolis politics thinks the race between incumbent Mayor Greg Ballard and Melina Kennedy, who won the Democratic primary yesterday, will be close come November.

Ballard, unexpectedly swept into office in 2007 largely through a protest vote over property tax reassessment, is considered neither a strong nor a weak candidate.

In recent months Kennedy has taken to criticizing Ballard’s handling of police and crime. And she has taken shots at Ballard’s record of job creation, or lack thereof. Which raises an interesting point.

Kennedy, an economic development director under former Mayor Bart Peterson, has made much of her small-business roots. An opinion column she submitted to IBJ in March played up her experiences waiting tables in the restaurant owned by her Greek immigrant father as well as the running shoe business, Blue Mile, formerly The Running Company, she owns with her husband, former Olympic runner Bob Kennedy.

If Kennedy makes an issue of her small-business bona fides, would she find running room with voters? Ballard has taken some criticism for strengthening building codes, which improves safety but drives up costs for people renovating older buildings and the small businesses that pay the higher leases.

Actually, Ballard isn’t a complete stranger to entrepreneurship, if publishing one’s own book is considered a micro shot at the American Dream. He wrote “The Ballard Rules; Small Unit Leadership” to use in the class he taught at Indiana Business College, now called Harrison College, before he took office.

Should Kennedy play to mom-and-pop sympathies? From the perspective of small business, who would you prefer in office?

  • ..no brainer
    The unfortunate fact here is thats our sitting Mayor will be infinitely better for the small business community in Indianapolis.
  • Ballard v. Kennedy
    Should ask the guy who owned Hollywood Bar & Filmworks what he thinks of Melina. That'll tell you how much she cares about small business.
  • empty store fronts
    I don't recall having more empty storefronts in this city ever as we have now. Roads, sidewalks and curbs are crumbling everywhere. I don't want to think what four more years of Mayor Ballard would do to this city. Parking is going to be more expensive around small businesses in downtown and Broad Ripple. Really Mr. Mayor?
  • S
    Even the middle of worst economic downturns, Indianapolis, is actually doing quite well and much of it can actually be attributed to Mayor Ballard. I think people forget that it was Mayor Ballard who went to the General Assembly and lobbied for property tax reform and for the state to be responsible for parts of education funding. These changes have made it possible for not only homeowners to stay in their homes, but they have helped small businesses weather the current economic conditions. Further more, I am sure the mayor would even say that mayor's don't create jobs, but can only work to create an environment that is attractive to business and that can sustain business. The mayor has done that, he has worked to make the parking meters more effective for local merchants, installed a hotline to get problems fixed that would impede commerce, and has worked to make his administration as friendly to business and their needs as any mayor.
    Kennedy on the other hand has a record of running businesses out of town. Government can't create jobs, but sure can destroy them.
  • Good for Business
    If this were 2007, I'd say Ballard hands down. But this is 2011, and we've had 3 plus years of Mayor Ballard acting as a liberal Democrat, raising taxes and fees at every opportunity and giving away our tax dollars to every politically connected company. This Republican will never vote for Ballard again.
  • Riiiight
    How many "small businesses" are here now, literally, in downtown, compared to, say, 2004? Has anyone actually done a "count"? If they did, they'd find A LOT LESS - and not just because of the recession. Most people couldn't even tell you who the Deputy Mayor of Ec. Dev. IS right now - at least Kennedy was active, involved, and DID SOMETHING when she was in that job! Go ahead- google the guy, see if you can find any "press releases" on anything he's done in the past year!!
  • We don't know
    From the standpoint of business and for all of Indianapolis we at least know that Peterson was the best for Indy. Ballard has failed to institute any major business/utility/assistance program that was not already a Peterson initiative. Ballard's major accomplishments consolidated power of public safety and moved control of the city's tranaction costs between two huge law firms. Frankly, the convention center's vinyl and alluminum facade are the contrast to Peterson's Lucas Oil bricks. Beyond those tasks, Ballard has wholesale leased or sold several city income streams for terms of years well beyond his likely tenure or his lifetime. Those leases directly and indirectly result in increased costs to small business owners. He has simply failed to spearhead and has only further delayed any major project like a very simple biodiesel train commuter between Noblesville and the airport. Given all that Ballard has and has not done, we still cannot say what Melina will do. I have much more faith that she will deliver similar to Peterson. Respectfully, Melina deserves our vote.

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