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?