- Submitted Photo
- AJ Feeney-Ruiz, City County Council Candidate, District 15, Republican
1) What do you offer as a candidate?
For starters I offer up my personal phone number and email to everybody I meet and to every home I visit on the campaign trail. I expect that my City County Councilor be available and accountable, and that's what I am now and will always be. I didn't wake up one morning and decide I needed to be elected. I actually have an ongoing love-hate relationship with politics, but became fed up enough with a lack of representation and voice from my District that I decided to run.
My youth (31 years old) allows me that perfect mix of idealism and energy that this city (and especially District 15) needs. My background in law and business (both my JD and MBA degrees earned at IU downtown) and government and media (studied at DePauw) provide me with a valuable skill set to be effective on the Council. The fact that I have experienced the highs and lows of small business ownership connects me to the thousands of Indy residents enduring that same roller coaster in these tough times.
I love my city and am proud to have seen it grow over three decades. I see elected office as a privilege and not an entitlement. I'm running as a republican, was raised libertarian, and am not afraid or unwilling to reach across the aisle when necessary to get the job done.
2) What does your district most need from the City Council?
A City County Councilor who lives in the District and serves a full term. One would think that's not too much to ask or expect from their elected official, but District 15 has lacked that for the last decade and has instead been a revolving door of embarrassing representatives and political ambition. Once we finally have a councilor that is available and accountable, we can truly have a voice on the Council. That means a voice for the thousands of young professionals who have moved downtown, for the historic westside neighborhoods that have lacked an advocate for years, and homeowners on the near north side and Lockerbie who remember when they were almost taxed out of their homes four years ago.
3) What's your opinion of the 2012 budget proposed by the mayor?
Every month I draw up a budget and keep it in my wallet. Sometimes that budget gives me heartburn, but I realize it is important to live within my means and make sure to set aside money for essential items. Government is no different, and the mayor's budget cuts from areas that we can do without while preserving public safety and criminal justice. There is a reason why Indianapolis has faired this recession better than most other cities in the Midwest, and being realistic about our finances is a big part of that.
4) What is your position on a comprehensive smoking ban?
The writing is on the wall that a comprehensive smoking ban will happen sooner rather than later in Indianapolis. I support such a ban, but only with a plan that gives small business owners a reasonable amount of time to make the necessary changes and have a voice in the process. So I support a ban - with a plan.
5) Do you think the city needs more police officers?
I think you'd be hard pressed to find anyone who thinks we don't need more policing. The reality, however, is that the money has to be there to hire new officers. I think the mayor has made some bold decisions over the last several years that have begun to change the culture of the IMPD and increase professionalism. In the absence of money to add hundreds of officers to the ranks, the next best thing is to make the force as highly trained and flexible as possible. So until we have the luxury of more money to hire more police officers, we should keep strengthening out department in as many other ways as possible and better use existing resources.
6) Do you support increased funding for public transit?
Absolutely. Indy residents realize that world-class transit has to happen in our city soon and that won't happen without increased funding. I tried to go a year downtown without owning a car and it's rough in Indianapolis. After seeing public transit done so right all over the world, it's nice to finally see a comprehensive transit plan like IndyConnect that excites so many.
7) Do you think the streets and sidewalks in your district are in good shape?
Yes. Finally. Though there is plenty more to do after decades of neglect and folks in District 15 see the RebuildIndy projects making their neighborhoods more livable - whether its in Lockerbie or Haughville.
8) Name one project that would most benefit your district.
Aside from existing projects like 16 Tech, the new Wishard Hospital, RebuildIndy, IndyConnect, the new bike hub at City Market, CityWay, etc...? Like me, thousands of young professionals have moved downtown in the last several years. We expect certain features of our city to keep our attention and not compel us to move out of the city. All the aforementioned projects do just that - create the foundation for Indianapolis to be a world class city. Aside from these, I would really love to see a Whole Foods and Ikea brought in or around downtown.
9) What question do you wish we'd asked?
What sets you apart from other City County Council Candidates?
While on the surface, it's easy to notice the two dozen tattoos, my relative youth as a candidate, and dashing good looks (perhaps debatable), there is much more to me as a candidate. I'm running to represent not only the folks who have called downtown Indy home for generations, but also for those folks living in Chicago, St. Louis, Columbus, etc. who don't even know yet that they will someday live in our city. We must look to become the city that brings these folks to central Indiana, and I love this city and its potential and I think that is apparent to anybody who has spent more than 2 minutes with me discussing Indy.