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District 1 Candidate: Michael Bishop

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Michael Bishop

Libertarian candidate for District 1

1.What do you offer as a candidate?

I have been a resident of Indiana since 1996 and a resident of Indianapolis since 2005. I have a Bachelor of Science in Telecommunications and Networking from Purdue University, as well as an Associate of Science in Organizational Leadership and Supervision. I currently work for a large technology company, headquartered right here in Indianapolis (and in District 1). I lead a team of engineers that focuses on deploying systems for new and existing customers.

In my role as an infrastructure manager, I'm used to working on multimillion dollar projects and working hard to keep them on budget and on time. With my engineering background, I'm used to taking an analytical approach to problems and coming up with logical, workable solutions. As a student of history, I am quite familiar with the results of governments that end up believing they are not accountable to the people that elect them to office.

I am not interested in playing the political game to win my party the most "points" or to fill my campaign's coffers with donations. My goal is provide the best government I can to the people of Indianapolis and work to resolve the very real issues that are facing us. Too often politicians practice political scapegoatism, trying to shift focus on to side issues to avoid dealing with the tough problems in front of them (particularly if those problems would put them at odds with some of the special interests they are beholden to). However, as I am running a self-funded campaign, the only interests I am beholden to are those of voters of my district and the citizens of Indianapolis as a whole.

2.What does your district most need from the City Council?

I would say honestly that what my district mostly needs is for the government to stay out of their way.

If you look at what has been happening in the city for the past 10 years or so, while we've seen two recessions and other major issues, we've had a city council and mayors from both parties who've thought that we should spend nearly three-quarters of a billion dollars on a sports stadium, the majority of the revenue for which goes to a private entity (in fact, the Capital Improvement Board has been running substantial deficits due to the stadium and Conseco Fieldhouse). Proponents say that the facilities provide thousands of jobs to the city, but if you run the numbers it appears to cost over a hundred thousand dollars of tax payer money per job created (that's just to create a job, not pay for one). I think it is pretty obvious that we could find much better investment opportunities inside Marion county that would help create sustainable job growth at a much lower cost to the tax payer. While the facilities are very nice and I'm sure it played a big part of the reason in why Indianapolis was chosen as the site for the Super Bowl, the amount of money spent cannot be justified.

This is only one example (though a very large one) of how our city government has been allocating tax payer money to benefit special interests rather than to the general interests of citizens.

3.What's your opinion of the 2012 budget proposed by the mayor?

Mayor Ballard says he is cognizant of the dire financial straits we find ourselves in. He acknowledges that revenue is going to be extremely tight (and much lower than it has been in previous years). While his budget does make an effort toward making real cuts (and his proposed budget is showing a 9% reduction over last year), I don't think it goes far enough. I'd like to some deeper cuts and more efforts reducing waste. One big place I still a lot of room to improve is in our public safety budgets. Even after the consolidation, we spent nearly $200 million dollars on IMPD last year and another $105 million on the Marion County Sheriff's department. You can't tell me that we can't find room to make cuts in that.

4.What is your position on a comprehensive smoking ban?

I am heavily against it. Businesses and consumers are completely capable of handling this issue on their own. Each business can choose whether to be smoking or non-smoking. Then consumers can decide with their dollars which they prefer. If there is a large enough demand for non-smoking venues, then more and more businesses will provide non-smoking venues (or non-smoking areas within smoking venues). Personally, I really don't like the smell of cigarette smoke and I certainly don't like getting the smell into my clothes. But since I don't care for that, I simply don't visit establishments where I'll have to deal with it. That is my choice as a consumer.

5.Do you think the city needs more police officers?

No. In fact, I'd say we probably spend too much on public safety, as I mentioned in my earlier reply. What we need is a new policing strategy, one that doesn't place so much focus on minor offenses that, while padding the arrest numbers and making politicians look good, don't really do anything to actually enhance the safety of the public. For example, pretty typically around election time, we see an increase in sting operations around prostitution and drug usage. What this results in (other than headlines in the media show how tough Mayor XYZ is on crime) is a large number of arrests of very low level criminals, large expenditures of polices resources and time, and no net benefit to the city. Meanwhile, we still have violent crimes to deal with.

6.Do you support increased funding for public transit?

No. Even while ridership is up on IndyGo, we are still looking at budget shortfalls, which mean it is not even coming close to being able to pay for itself. I would much rather see the city partnering with private enterprise (or many private enterprise) to come up with some more creative solutions to the issues of public transit. Indianapolis is a pretty difficult city for public transit. We have a very large area with a spread out population. Most of the conventional public transit systems (buses and light rail) are just not going to be even remotely cost effective. We need innovation to help us provide the transportation people need and at the same time not drain money from the tax payers' pockets.

7.Do you think the streets and sidewalks in your district are in good shape?

For the most part yes, though last winter was pretty brutal. We saw (like the rest of the city) extensive damage to our streets and this winter is looking like it might be pretty bad as well. That's why I'd like to see deeper cuts in spending, so we are ready to repair our infrastructure and keep in good shape.

8.Name one project that would most benefit your district.

Again, I think the best thing the city could do is stop spending money. Sure, there are going to be all sorts of projects here and there that might benefit the residents of District 1, but the real question is, "Who is going to pay for it?". What I think the residents of my district could really use is a reduction in their property and income taxes. That would benefit them more than some make-work projects that provide a few temporary jobs that disappear down the road (and conveniently after the election is over).

9.What question do you wish we'd asked?

"What do you see as the proper role of the government in people's everyday lives?" I think that one question and generally sum up where a candidate stands on most issues. Personally, I believe that the government should have as small an impact as possible on the citizenry. Rather than enacting ordinance after ordinance that creates a maze of regulation, making it tougher for businesses to flourish in our city, I'd rather see a government that is dedicated to maintaining a police force that protects people from being harmed by others (but otherwise leaves them alone), maintaining the communal infrastructure to allow us to move around freely, and that's about it.

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