- Michael Kalscheur
1)What do you offer as a candidate?
I have two specific abilities that many of the other At-Large candidates do not – experience in the business world and experience as an elected government official.
For the past 6 years I have been on the Perry Township Advisory Board, a smaller version of the City-County Council, holding both the secretary and president positions.During this time, I have worked on important policy issues facing our township, reviewed multi-year budgets and worked with several trustees and my fellow board members to provide high quality services while keeping tax rates low.
For over 20 years, I have worked in the financial services industry, holding several different positions in both individual and institutional areas.Due to the size and scope of Indianapolis' budget, it is common for non-traditional or enhanced funding vehicles to be employed.These vehicles can be very complicated and confusing, but my background should allow me to assist my fellow councilors in deciphering these options and selecting the ones that are best for the taxpayers of Indianapolis.
2) What does your district most need from the City Council?
Since I am running At-Large, the entire city of Indianapolis is my district.Therefore, whatever is best for the city is best for my district.The top issues that Indianapolis residents have told me are Public Safety, Economic Development and Education.
Public Safety must be the #1 priority, as everything else is based on this.If a person is not safe in their home, their business or at school, they cannot possibly expect to be successful.Therefore, police and fire protection must be done well and efficiently.
Second is Economic Development, otherwise known as jobs.If a willing person cannot find an honest day's pay for an honest day's work, then that person's life is being cheated.The city should do what it can to attract, retain and grow businesses by cutting red tape, providing a low and consistent tax structure and (if necessary) utilize economic incentives to help growing businesses.
Third is Education.Indianapolis is a great city; one of the best in the country.We have done this by tackling crime, balancing our budget and being forward looking and proactive.However, if we want to be a world-class city in 20 – 30 years, we must have a world-class education system.That means that the best educational options are made available to every child in the city and that parents, educators, principals and the community all commit to do whatever it takes to help children succeed.
If we can get Public Safety, Economic Development and Education right in Indianapolis, everything else will fall into place.
3) What's your opinion of the 2012 budget proposed by the mayor?
Mayor Ballard and his administration have done a magnificent job of balancing the budget during what is unquestionably the worst economic downturn in a generation.Cutting fat, looking for efficiencies and finding new and creative ways to increase revenues has allowed Mayor Ballard to balance the budget while cutting income taxes – no small feat with property taxes also being cut.
Are there things that I would like to see have additional funding?Absolutely.As the economy recovers, more people will be working and revenues will increase to fund these important things, but only if we continue to spend tax dollars wisely and efficiently.The worst thing we could do now is revert back to the budget busting ways of the last administration.
4) What is your position on a comprehensive smoking ban?
The government does not have the right to force individuals or business owners to be non-smoking any more than it has a right to force them to be smoking.I recently heard that 94% of all restaurants and bars in Indianapolis are smoke free by choice.People who want smoke-free restaurants will 'vote with their feet,' and go to establishments that cater to their preferences.I trust the residents of Indianapolis to make this choice on their own.
5) Do you think the city needs more police officers?
I asked the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) this exact question during my interview with them. They couldn't answer at the time, but my point to them was that I want great public safety.If that means more police, then that's what we'll spend money on.However, if it is new technology, more training or better equipment (i.e. a helicopter), then that's what we'll spend money on.
Getting input from the police who are in the trenches on a daily basis is crucial in this process.
6) Do you support increased funding for public transit?
Yes.We need to find additional dollars to fund IndyGo so that they can maintain, and hopefully expand, their coverage times and areas.That being said, IndyGo has areas where they can find efficiencies too.They have many requirements that are mandated from the federal government, but I have met with representatives of IndyGo, and will work with them to fund and improve service across Indianapolis.
In the future, I would love to see a 21st century mass transit plan put in place here in Indianapolis.I freely admit that I don't know what the best plan is; light rail, expanding bus service, electric trolleys, etc.Unfortunately, I do know that almost every mass transit program in the country needs taxpayer subsidies of between 70% - 80%, which makes any plan very hard to justify economically.
According to the numbers I have seen, the initial cost of the rail project would be over $2 Billion.The interest alone on a levy that large would be over $60 Million per year.That is larger than IndyGo's annual budget.That type of commitment would have to have exceptionally good long-term benefits to make economic sense.
Again, most mass transit systems are overly reliant on federal, state and local taxes to fund their initial costs and ongoing operations.With the continued budget problems at the federal level, this support cannot be relied upon long-term.That means we need to come up with alternative funding sources before committing to it.I look forward to working with my fellow city county councilors to find effective and efficient ways to significantly reduce the burden on the taxpayer.
7) Do you think the streets and sidewalks in your district are in good shape?
They are good in some areas, but other areas still need work.This is an enormous issue in Indianapolis.Several years ago, it was determined that the city was $1.5 Billion behind in road and infrastructure repairs.Due to poor spending decisions by the last administration, money was not being spent on routine maintenance of roads, causing them to wear out prematurely.Capital improvements, such as bridge replacement / repair and installing sidewalks were not even talked about due to lack of funding.
Since then, we have made gargantuan strides, especially in the last 12 – 18 months.Part of this was the resourceful thinking of Mayor Ballard and his administration, finding new funds for infrastructure by selling the water company to a non-profit and bringing in a private company to run the parking meters.These two ideas were turned into reality, and brought in almost $500,000,000 that could be used as a down payment towards these pressing infrastructure needs.
8) Name one project that would most benefit your district.
A change in our educational system city-wide would have the largest benefit in the long run.All it would take is focusing on the student – what is the best educational option for this particular child? – and then providing the resources to the parents to fund this education.The system must reward student achievement, academic excellence and something that no current system does – frugality.By giving economic rewards for efficiency, we'll be able to provide a world-class educational system for the same, or even less, than what the current system costs us.
9) What question do you wish we'd asked?
Most people don't get to meet the candidates individually, so they want to know a little about the candidates and their backgrounds.
I was born in Milwaukee, WI, but my dad was a truck driver for Federal Express, so we lived in South Bend and Kokomo before moving back to Wisconsin.I decided to return to Indiana for school and chose Butler University.After I graduated I married my wife Amy, and we have been together for over 16 years.
Most of my time is devoted to my family (8 children – Joe, Olivia, Alex, Sophia, Ava, Anna, Victoria and Regina), work and politics.However, I do enjoy spending time with my boys' Boy Scout troop (Troop 564 out of St. Barnabas).I'll be spending as many hours in October working with my boys to sell Boy Scout popcorn as I am campaigning.
I am also very active with the Knights of Columbus council 3660, located on Thompson Road on the south side.I help organize and run three separate children's parties each year – Halloween, Christmas and Easter – along with monthly breakfasts that we sponsor during the school year.I am also active in my church, spending time helping engaged couples prepare for marriage and working on our annual dinner & dance.