Greg Ballard was so good at running things at a Saudi Arabian seaport at the end of the Gulf War that one of the generals nicknamed him the "Mayor of Jubail."
Now, he's hoping to persuade voters to elect him the mayor of Indianapolis.
Ballard, a 52-year-old Republican making his first run for office, is challenging two-term Democratic incumbent Bart Peterson.
For the record, when I lived within the city limits, I voted for Bart Peterson. He was what Indy needed at the time. I do not live there now, so it's imperative to note that I do not have a dog in the fight. Peterson was what was needed at the time, as the city had been under republican control for 31 years. And like any party that builds a machine, it gets corrupted.
After two terms of Mr. Peterson, there seems to be more of a feeling of disconnect between Bart and the people that elected him. He consolidated IPD with the Sheriff's office and IFD with those departments in the townships, in a haphazard way to drain revenue from them, to minimize the losses that have been incurred under his administration. Property taxes are hitting the sky, county income taxes have been raised. Restaurant and hotel taxes have been hiked up, to subsidize the new stadium and hand out corporate welfare to millionaires. We all love our Colts mind you, but other things are quickly slipping into the abyss.
Bart hasn't been a complete failure, he has done some things well. But, there comes a time when all of the signs of a machine beginning to break down, appear. The disconnect comes from the way he handles criticism. He insulates himself from it. He turns a blind eye to bad behavior within his own party and administration.
Indianapolis is primarily Democratic these days. The Republican machine is gone and the Dems are riding one right now. The City-County Council was Republican up until a few years ago, now the Dems are embroiled in much scandal, starting with Council President Monroe Gray.
Bearing gifts of smoke detectors, City-County Council President Monroe Gray added prestige to an Indianapolis Fire Department outreach event in the Butler-Tarkington neighborhood in August.
What's not clear is exactly whom Gray was representing.
He could have been there in his role as a council member, since he represents that Northside neighborhood, a part of the 8th District.
Or he could have been there acting in his capacity as the community liaison for the Fire Department, a job that Gray acknowledges has some of the same responsibilities as his council role.
Gray earns two paychecks from the city of Indianapolis: $83,000 a year for being a fire official, a position from which he will retire this year, and another $16,000 for serving on the council, with an additional $2,000 for serving as president.
Another Democrat that has been in the hot seat for his behavior is, City-County Councilman Ron Gibson.
Bart has yet to distance himself from these kinds of activities. Mum has been the word. The cricket sounds coming from the City-County Building have ben deafening. (Like I said, he insulates himself.)
So now, enter LTC Ballard:
Here is a man that is 14% behind in the polls right now. But he hasn't spent a cent. He hasn't had it to spend.
What I am finding interesting in this race is, there is a chance that he could win this, but he must make up some ground between now and November 6th. He is hanging around at 14 % after Peterson has spent a mint and the colonel is waging a full-time grass roots campaign (and is connecting).
He may not win, but I wouldn't rule it out just yet, either. I know a lot of Dems that are planning to vote for Mr. Ballard. Little is known about him, the article does a good job of introducing him. The biggest accomplishment in his life seems to be a successful career in the U.S. Marine Corps. That may not count much for some and I would in no way say that should ever be the only criteria for public service. (See: John Murtha and Duke Cunningham) But on the whole, I would say this qualifies as a definite plus in his case, especially given the fact that his opponent has had eight years to produce, and has failed to do it efficiently.
If you look at Ballard's military service record here, you will see that he is certainly qualified to be given a chance. And a chance he may get. For this reason, it would be advisable for him to get ready to govern and always remember that the next election is always down the road.