The fight to represent the Castleton and Geist area is turning out to be this year’s most expensive race for the Indianapolis City-County Council, but the council’s unopposed president and his recently established political action committee also are making plenty of moves to try to maintain a Democratic supermajority.
Records show that Council President Vop Osili spent more than any other City-County Council candidate during the April 8 to Oct. 13 reporting period, dishing out $123,665.
About $55,000 went to Osili’s PAC, which he has said he formed to help Demcocrats get elected in 2023 but could also serve as a lauching pad for him to seek higher office. Much of the rest of Osili’s campaign cash went to help Democratic council candidates in contested races and to incumbent Demcocratic Mayor Joe Hogsett in his bid to win a third term against Republican Jefferson Shreve.
Democrats currently hold 19 of the 25 council seats, but redistricting likely will make it more challenging for them to win that many seats again.
In the hotly contested Castleton-Geist District 4 council race, Osili is among the biggest contributors to Democratic upstart Nick Roberts, who at 23 would become the youngest council member if elected.
Roberts is facing a strong challenge from Republican Natalie Goodwin for an open seat created by independent Ethan Evans’ decision not to seek re-election. Combined, the two candidates have spent $112,596, making it the most expensive council race so far.
Roberts, a freelance data analyst and director of community relations for the Lawrence Township Trustee’s Office, leads the race in fundraising at $79,175 and spending at $85,209, Part of the gap stems from a loan he gave himself, which was $18,000 during this campaign finance period.
Goodwin, a 34-year-old mom of three and former staffer to U.S. Congresswoman Susan Brooks and U. S. Sen. Todd Young, raised $50,596 during the period and spent $27,387.
Roberts received mostly smaller donations from individuals, some from out of state, likely due to his large social media presence. He also received contributions from lots of Democratic state lawmakers, including Carey Hamilton, Fady Qaddoura and Mitch Gore, all from Indianapolis, plus Reps. Carolyn Jackson of Hammond, Chris Campbell of West Lafayette and Vernon Smith of Gary.
He also received funds from several current Indianapolis City-County Councilors. Democratic councilors La Keisha Jackson, John Barth, Kristin Jones, and Zach Adamson gave to Roberts’ campaign. Osili gave the candidate $1,000 from his campaign committee, while contributing $9,600 in in-kind donations from his political action committee.
Like Roberts, Goodwin received support from candidates and officials within her own party. The largest contribution came from the campaign committee of former U.S. Rep. Susan Brooks, which gave Goodwin $5,000. The campaign committee of the late U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski gave Goodwin $1,000.
Brad Chambers, the former Indiana Secretary of Commerce and a current Republican candidate for Indiana governor, gave $1,000. Republican mayoral candidate Jefferson Shreve gave Goodwin $1,000 during this reporting period, totaling his contributions to her campaign at $2,000. John Lechleiter, a Shreve donor and former CEO of Eli Lilly, gave the Goodwin campaign $1,500.
Goodwin’s largest expense was $25,000 to the Republican State Committee for postage.
The candidates ended the period with similar cash on hand. Roberts has $36,178, while Goodwin has $36,209.
In Meridian Hills and Nora
Democrat Brienne Delaney and Republican Matt Hills had the second most expensive race, combining for a total of $75,055 in spending from April to mid-October in the fight to represent a northside district encompassing Meridian Hills and Nora.
Delaney, a former deputy prosecutor, successfully unseated incumbent Councilor Monroe Gray in the primary. She spent $52,894 during the period, more than doubling the $22,161 spent by Hills.
Delaney received several large donations from attorneys and some from members of her family.
Osili’s PAC gave Delaney the most, at $7,500. Bart Peterson, former Indianapolis mayor and current CEO of Christel House International, gave $2,000.
Steve Delaney, first vice president at real estate firm CBRE and the candidate’s father, gave her campaign $3,000, and Denise Delaney, a tech consultant and mother of the candidate, contributed $1,000.
Greg Hahn, an Indianapolis attorney, gave Delaney $1,000. Another Indianapolis attorney, Frederick Garver, contributed $1,000 to her campaign.
Democratic Indianapolis state representatives Mitch Gore and Blake Johnson also chipped in, along with Indianapolis Sen. Fady Qaddoura. Democratic councilors Kristin Jones, Jared Evans and Zach Adamson. Fellow candidate Roberts also donated.
Delaney’s largest expense was $4,408 to Berlin Rosen LLC for printing.
Hills raised $26,162 and ends the period with $17,981 cash on hand. Delaney raised $57,731 and has $15,426 cash on hand.
Hills is a military veteran and management consultant. His largest contribution from an individual donor came from Klayton South, owner of Bargersville-based operations and disaster relief business USA Up Star. He gave Hills $5,000.
GOP mega-donor Bob Grand gave Hills $2,500. Shreve gave Hills’ campaign $2,041. Anthony M. Najem, co-founder and CEO of Meyer Najem Construction, gave Hills $1,000
Campaign committees from incumbent Republican Councilor Michael-Paul Hart, former councilor Colleen Fanning, and U.S. Rep. Greg Pence also contributed funds.
Hills’ largest expenses were $11,736 on direct mail and palm cards through Indianapolis-based HG Creative Partners and $3,510 on accounting services from Three Point Advisors.
Early voting is currently underway for the Nov. 7 election.