Interview with Indiana Mayor Joe Hogsett about the city

INDIANAPOLIS — When Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett announced that he would be running for re-election next year, he hinted that he wanted work to get done.

So we began our sit-down interview with the mayor and asked what the other options were besides running for a third term.

“I guess I could have just walked out at the end of the second trimester, but I don’t think that would have accounted for me because there’s still so much to do,” Hogsett replied.

The follow-up question: “Didn’t anyone ask you to run for the US Senate or for governor?”

The mayor dismissed both ideas: “I’m really not interested in anything other than local government. With all due respect to Washington DC, and this is just my opinion, very little is being done in this community.”

The biggest challenge for the city is violent crime. In five of the seven years that Hogsett has been mayor, the record for murders in one year has been broken or equaled. In the city’s three years of history alone, there have been more than 200 homicides. It’s the last three years.

All of this begs the question, is this level of violence the “new normal”?

Hogsett replied, “I don’t think so. The progress we made this year is an indication of the progress we can make next year and the year after that. Well, to your point (the homicide rate) is still higher than it was five years ago.”

However, the mayor points out that there has been a decline in both homicides and non-fatal shootings this year. He attributed at least some of it to expanded anti-violence efforts funded with $150,000,000 in federal government pandemic aid. That money was channeled into community groups dealing with crime and violence, and paid for another 100 officers for IMPD.

A sore point with the mayor is an ongoing disagreement with the state government over how to allocate money to local governments for road repairs. The government funding formula is based on the total kilometers of road in a municipality, not the number of lanes in those kilometers. A six-lane city road therefore receives just as much government funding as a single-lane country road.

“It’s just… it’s just inappropriate,” Hogsett said.

But he remains hopeful that state legislatures and the governor could eventually make the formula fairer for cities.

“I think something could be done to adjust the formula. I’m not holding my breath that it would be ready in the next session,” Hogsett said.

The mayor believes the number of state lawmakers interested in changing the state’s road repair formula is growing. But Hogsett says he won’t support a new formula that will make his city more money if it comes with a tax hike for city dwellers.