You might do a double-take at our use of the Ice Cube classic to describe this week’s elections, and we get it. It strains credulity a little to call anything about 2020 “good,” and the very idea of ‘election day’ is blurred by the month-long marathon of early and mail-in voting. But we’ll stick with it for three big reasons:
It’s almost over! For those of you who aren’t hardcore political junkies, this campaign season may have seemed grueling, anxiety-inducing, choose your adjective – but even though votes are still being counted, it’s time to move from 30-second ads and ‘gotcha’ moments to the challenges of governance. And that’s a good thing, because there are plenty of critical issues demanding focus. (And no elections in 2021!)
The heroic electorate: Voter turnout was better than good – it was incredible, and inspiring. Amid the COVID pandemic, you planned ahead, took precautions, and braved long lines (often waiting hours) to cast your ballots…many business owners did their part with flexible scheduling or time off to help employees participate safely. Nearly twice as many Hoosiers took advantage of early voting options versus 2016.
BACing it up: We’re pleased to report that candidates supported by our Business Advocacy Committee (BAC) also did very well. 2021 will see businesses working to rebuild, schools trying to return to ‘normal’ (and help students catch up after a tumultuous 2020), and lawmakers negotiating the next state budget – we’ll be working closely with the officials who earned the confidence of the BAC and then the voters.
Holcomb heads back to Governor’s Office:
Starting at the top of that endorsement slate, we congratulate Governor Eric Holcomb on a resounding re-election triumph Tuesday evening. We backed Holcomb in a vote of confidence for his handling of COVID public health and economic crisis on behalf of thousands of employers across the Indianapolis region.
As we worked with the City of Indianapolis and other partners to get resources to disrupted businesses and displaced workers through the pandemic, we came to appreciate the Holcomb administration’s commitment to collaborate with local officials. A strong recovery starts with a safe re-opening, and Governor Holcomb has worked to find a balanced approach guided by data and deference to local circumstances.
And while COVID has (rightfully) dominated much of the political debate this year, Governor Holcomb’s first term was also marked by major investments in education and infrastructure, aggressive workforce and economic development initiatives and a forward-looking approach to issues like bias crime penalties and common-sense workplace protections for expectant moms. We look forward to working with the Governor and his team for another four years.
Take it to the House (and Senate)
Twenty of the 23 Central Indiana legislative candidates endorsed by the BAC also scored victories this week, led by a solid win for Speaker Todd Huston as he prepares to preside over his first full session leading the House.
Defying some pre-election expectations, Speaker Huston will be backed up by an even larger Republican majority. We’re pleased this majority includes lawmakers like Jerry Torr, who earned re-election in a competitive race; Representative Torr has been a valuable ally on regional transit, redistricting reform and other Chamber priorities through the years.
Veterans like Torr and newcomers like Democratic Representative Blake Johnson are just two among the vast majority of BAC-endorsed candidates who were successful this week.
Turning to the Senate, we’d be remiss not to recognize Senator John Ruckelshaus for a legislative career marked by thoughtful, bipartisan integrity. Senator Ruckelshaus’ successor in District 30, Fady Qaddoura, brings unique knowledge of local budget issues to the role as a former Indianapolis controller, and we look forward to working with him next year. And kudos to the strong and spirited campaign run by Ashley Eason in Senate District 36 as well – we expect Ashley’s to continue to be an important voice in our community.
Spanning both chambers and across partisan lines, the General Assembly will face unprecedented challenges in crafting a budget that positions our region and state for a safe and sustained economic recovery, making investments that will help us be competitive beyond the next biennium. As they hash out the issues, we’ll be there pushing our agenda as well.
One of the toughest budget issues for the legislature will be protecting K-12 funding as the COVID recession pushes state revenues below projections. But when it comes to spending that money in ways that support teachers and student achievement, local school boards shape much of what happens in the classroom.
So turning to the Indianapolis Public Schools, we’re thrilled with a clean sweep of IPS school board races: While the last few Marion County absentee ballots are being counted, incumbents Venita Moore (District 2) and Diane Arnold (District 4) won re-election, and will be joined by Will Pritchard (District 1) and Kenneth Allen, who emerged from a hotly-contested race for the At-Large position on the board.
This team will continue working closely with Superintendent Aleesia Johnson to drive more dollars to the classroom and into teacher paychecks, while offering diverse learning opportunities to a diverse student population whose success will shape our city’s future.