Influential person: Julia Carson

State lawmaker and congresswoman

While plenty of Indianapolis-area politicians built their reputations with brick-and-mortar projects, Julia Carson spent her political career looking out for the disadvantaged. A former staff member for and protege of U.S. Rep. Andy Jacobs, she served in the Indiana House of Representatives from 1973 to 1977 and in the Indiana Senate until 1990. In 1997, when Jacobs retired, she won his seat in the U.S. House of Representatives and held it until her death in 2007.

During her career, Carson, who served a district that was primarily white and moderate, wasn’t afraid to take stands to the left of much of her constituency. It didn’t seem to hurt her success, because she was
repeatedly returned to office by comfortable margins.

“She told me, ‘If you believe in something and show that you believe in it, you’ll convince a lot of people who might not agree with you, just by showing your commitment,’” recalled former Indianapolis Mayor Bart Peterson.

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