Trouble Brewing for Both Political Parties in Indianapolis’ Mayoral Race

Indianapolis’ Independent Mayoral Candidate, John Schmitz.

July 23, 2019, Indianapolis — The Mayoral race in this “blue-dot city” in “deep red” Indiana is getting shaken up by a masonry contractor, vying as an Independent candidate against both major parties, but the bi-partisan Marion County Election Board has found ways to derail his effort.

The candidate, John Schmitz told @VoteChecker that he was “fed up with politics as usual,” so he worked hard to qualify as an Independent. For this race, Indiana law required 6,106 voters’ signatures. He gathered “around 8,300,” but it wasn’t enough.

“They rejected 38% of my signatures, bringing me 751 short,” said Schmitz. “Some were people who were not registered to vote, but over a thousand of them were only rejected because their current residence in Marion County did not match the address on the voter rolls.”

Their ruling effectively keeps his name off of the ballot, so Schmitz is appealing the decision, based on the principle that Indiana law allows voters to update their address when they show up at the polls to vote.

“As long as they’re registered, people can vote anywhere in Marion County,” he said, “so that same policy should apply with gathering signatures for candidate petitions.”

The first-term incumbent Mayor of Indianapolis, Democrat, Joe Hogsett, has been in public service since 1990 either as a federal prosecutor or as Secretary of State. The Republican Jim Merritt has been a State Senator since 1991.

Schmitz, a businessman, has never run for public office, but his community empowerment actions have made him formidable, especially in this era of American history.

“Politicians always want to tell you what they want to do,” said Schmitz, “I’ll show you what I’m going to do.”

Exactly what he has done is what both establishment parties fear: He captured the hearts of voters in some of Indianapolis’ worst neighborhoods.

Among the achievements, documented on his Facebook group page, “Do Something Indy,” are his purchasing a “former heroin house” the long-neglected Mars Hill community and then moving his family there.

The Indianapolis Star cited one of Schmitz’ projects as “a major example of grassroots community revival that’s happening in the southwest Indianapolis neighborhood.”

(Click image for accompanying story.)

He and wife, Lisa, bought the arts center, a “known place to buy meth,” in 2015 at a public auction.

During our phoner, he regaled me with other examples of his hands-on approach to solving community problems, but he also told of cases where his mayoral efforts ran into stiff institutional resistance.

It all sounded eerily familiar as he described the racially diverse people who encouraged him to run as a third-party candidate. He then explained how both political parties colluding to deny him access to things as reasonable as his setting up a booth at a major community fair.

As his campaign currently stands, he will not be allowed on the ballot, but he’s confident his appeal will prevail.

“This is the same state that almost disqualified Obama over signature problems,” he said. “They found a way to get him on the ballot, so I think they will let me on the ballot too.”

His efforts and style may fit in well during the era of Trump and of Brexit, so it’s no wonder that both parties are nervous.

His election board hearing on the matter is July 30, at 10 A.M. in the City-County Building of downtown Indianapolis.

~ jd