District 11 of the Indianapolis City-County Council covers the near west side of the city. Incumbent Democrat and current Council President Vop Osili was first elected to represent the district in 2011. In the general election, he will face Republican challenger Evan Shearin.
Evan Shearin is a life-long resident of Indianapolis, veteran of the U.S. Navy, and graduate of the University of Indianapolis, where he earned both his bachelor's degree and Master of Business Administration. He is running for City-County Council in District 11 to address Indianapolis' many growing challenges, primarily in the areas of infrastructure, crime, and homelessness. He is a former Section 8 and public housing caseworker, and previously administered housing and community development grants for the State of Indiana. He has volunteered with the Julian Center and Wheeler Mission, among other organizations, and is a member of the American Legion, VFW, the Murat Shriners, and the Antelope Club where he previously served as treasurer and on the board of directors. He currently works as a data consultant and Salesforce administrator in the insurance industry.
NUVO: How will you address quality of life issues for Indianapolis residents — affordable housing, food deserts, transportation options for those without cars, air quality, water quality, schools, green space, sustainability, recycling, lack of park funding, etc.?
Shearin: I believe that Indianapolis could be zoned much better so that neighborhoods are more walkable, commercial districts are closer to residential, and high-density residential housing is more convenient to public transportation. Right now, we have large residential areas too far away from commercial zones. I'd also like to see better and wider implementation of mixed-use zoning. This will help bring jobs, retail (including grocery stores), and other opportunities closer to low-income neighborhoods. It will reduce commute times, and make neighborhoods more walkable and livable. In short, I'd like to reform more neighborhoods the way we have downtown.
NUVO: I want to know how they are going to support the public school system.
Shearin: IPS is governed by an independent school board, so the City-County Council has little to say in the direct administration of our schools. Now, everyone has heard that the U.S. has some of the worst schools in the world. However, studies from the University of Massachusetts and elsewhere have shown that, when corrected for poverty, we really have some of the best. So the job of the City County Council is to attack poverty by knocking down barriers, encouraging investment and entrepreneurship, and building bridges to better economic opportunity. Kids who have healthy home lives will have healthier school lives as well.
NUVO: What are your plans to help Indianapolis have a more equitable distribution of resources to help marginalized communities without contributing to gentrification?
Shearin: If elected, I would like to see a cap on property tax increases for established home owners. So, while property taxes may rise gradually, no homeowner will be forced to sell their home because of a sudden spike in property taxes. Also, we must try to strike a balance between welcoming and encouraging outside investment in our city without disenfranchising our local business owners and while encouraging and supporting entrepreneurs. The City-County Council must try to knock down regulatory, licensing, and other barriers that prevent small business owners from starting and running their businesses successfully.
NUVO: How will you address the pothole problem?
Shearin: We need to make potholes a priority. First, if elected, would vote to remove Dan Parker from the head of DPW, as he's a political crony with no infrastructure or public administration experience. I'd replace him with someone who knows this city, and knows roads. Second, I'd start reaching out to Purdue, Rose-Hulman and elsewhere, and start investigating new road construction technology, offering Indianapolis as a test bed for cutting edge innovations. Once we'd established the best new methods of road construction, I will lobby vigorously to bring the manufacture of that technology, and the jobs that come with it, here to Indianapolis.
NUVO: What will you do to encourage the increased use of alternate (non motor vehicle) forms of transportation in the city?
Shearin: My zoning proposals will help immensely, as well as my proposed expansion of bike lanes and walkable areas. I will also push back against state attempts to tax electric, hybrid, and other non-gasoline-powered vehicles. I will seek grant money, private investment, and other funding sources to build and maintain more electric charging stations, and look for ways to offer incentives to new residential and commercial spaces to offer electric vehicle parking. I will seek to make Indianapolis a city where it's reasonable and practical to own an electric car.
NUVO: How do you feel about decriminalizing possession of personal amounts of cannabis, as other large cities have done?
Shearin: I want to stop incarceration for small and non-violent crimes. Our police department has been understaffed for years, Mayor Hogsett's promises to recruit 150 new police officers has failed to materialize, and we have broken murder records in Indianapolis for four years now. We simply cannot afford to be prosecuting otherwise law-abiding citizens for minor, victim-less crimes. We must have bigger priorities.