Well as tradition dictates, it’s time for me to do my top 10 state and local stories of 2016. Of course most of this occurs in the shadow of President-Elect Donald’s Trump’s victory, so with that said, here we go…
- Voters Turn Down Our IPS’ BS. – IPS reform advocates win three out four seats on the school board, keeping the district moving forward instead of putting it on a path back to when officials were more concerned about hiring their family members than educating kids.
- Getting the Vapors – The fight over vaping regulations goes from the Statehouse to the FBI and back to the Statehouse as lawmakers get ready to change the rules back to something more reasonable, once again proving there’s nothing like the possibility of jail time to get folks on the straight and narrow.
- Massive Votes for Mass Transit – Not only did the referendum win 60-40 in Marion County, it carried 19 of the 25 Council districts and 79 percent of the precincts. Of course it doesn’t help that funding for the Red Line is caught up in D.C. budget battles, but hey, you take your wins where you can them and this one was pretty big.
- Road to Somewhere – Indiana lawmakers actually came up with responsible, long-term proposal to address the state’s road funding needs. A mix of adjusted for inflation tax increases, tolling and bonding just might be what the state needs to address its more than $1 billion worth of road funding needs. Now it’s time to step on the gas and get moving.
- Murder by Numbers – Although he ran on public safety, Indy Mayor Joe Hogsett is the unfortunate winner of the most murders in Indianapolis history award. Despite efforts to attack crime holistically, we still saw 146 murders in the city and there are two days to go as we write this.
- King of the Hill – You gotta give it to Indiana Attorney General-Elect Curtis Hill. He led the top of the ticket not only getting nearly 100,000 more votes than Donald Trump, but he was the highest votegetter in state history. Some Democrats tried to say the only reason he did so well was because a lot of Hoosiers didn’t know he was black. That’s funny, because some people said the opposite about Barack Obama in 2008 when he won Indiana.
- The Goodbye Girl – When Glenda Ritz beat Tony Bennett back in 2012, her staff was rumored to say they never saw it coming. Fast forward four years and they ended up saying the same thing.
- Bayh, Bayh Evan – Who would have thought when Evan Bayh who walked into the U.S. Senate race with $9 million and a 21-point lead would end up losing by nearly 10-points to Todd Young? Not a lot of people, but that’s the great thing about politics, no matter how long you practice it, you can still be pleasantly surprised. And some of us will argue that no matter how excited Republican are that Bayh lost, there are probably even more Democrats who are happy that he is now gone for good. However, Bayh did get one consolation prize, he got more votes than Hillary Clinton.
- Run Eric, Run – Eric Holcomb might be only politician in recent Indiana history to run for three offices all in the same 12-month window. He started out running for the U.S. Senate, got picked for Lt. Governor when Sue Ellspermann headed over to Ivy Tech and then stepped up when Mike Pence was picked to be Donald Trump’s running mate. And while you can’t deny the Trump Tsunami, Holcomb was a good candidate who was surrounded by a good team and they did it all in about 100 days. If only all campaigns were like this one.
- Mike Pence – The only other comeback this fascinating was the Chicago Cubs winning this year’s World Series.
Happy New Year!