In my position as a City-County Councilor, I get the opportunity to take part in all facets of government – the joys of helping my district, the rush of adrenaline during a respectful (yet, sometimes heated) debate, and, as with most jobs, the frustrations that come in some of the maneuvers necessary to get the job done.
I’m not sure if I’m a typical councilor. In fact, I think many would say that I’m not, given my propensity for being very outspoken and deliberate in my interactions. So, I wanted to give a brief overview of how I fulfill my duties as a councilor – and ask other councilors to share their thoughts with the public on how we can best serve their needs.
I’ve always had a heart for serving the most vulnerable of our population. It’s how I was brought up. So I’ve always prayed to try and discern what purpose and plan God has for me.
On many occasions, people suggested that I run for the Council and I turned them down, not knowing if that was the right approach for my service. Yet, I saw that there were significant needs in Council District 4, which runs from 96th Street to 38th Street on the northeast side of Indianapolis. So I decided that being a Councilor would allow me to make a significant difference for people of different backgrounds, different beliefs and different circumstances. And, finally, I chose to run.
As you can imagine, there are many challenges within this district. Now, I consider myself to be an “Old School Republican” – someone who believes in a hand-up, rather than a handout; fiscal responsibility, rather than wasteful or politically motivated spending; fewer laws, rather than creating a nanny state; public safety and public works as the cornerstone of a strong community; and integrity in dealing with my constituents and my fellow councilors.
But I also have to realize that my constituents aren’t necessarily like me. Although we all want to build the best community for our families, many of them have different needs than I do. So in order to be the best councilor that I can be – for my district – I believe that listening is my number one priority. Then, as I hear their needs, my job is to advocate on their behalf and find the best way to meet their needs using my “Old School Republican” belief system.
Sometimes this is difficult, given that the needs of my district sometimes are in conflict with the needs of other parts of the city or the desires expressed by the city’s administration or my fellow councilors.
The best that I can do – the best that any councilor can do in good conscience – is to be willing to listen and talk to each other, debate the issues in a civil manner, look at the evidence, and make decisions that best serve the public’s interests, regardless of political dogma.
I take this responsibility seriously. And that may lead me to propose compromises and, at times, vote against some of my closest colleagues. But, as long as I’m convinced that what I’m doing is best for my constituents and the City of Indianapolis, I will continue to argue for my causes and vote my conscience. In my opinion, that’s the approach that councilors should take, because it best serves the community.
I share these thoughts for two reasons.
First, I believe that everyone has the duty to hold his or her councilor to a high level of integrity. That’s what I strive to achieve. And I would be the first to expect those that I serve to dress me down if I stray from that commitment. So, I call on those in District 4 and all across Indianapolis to be more aware of what their councilors are doing, get involved in your government, and make sure that your voices are being heard.
Second, I encourage everyone to learn the facts and make the right decisions in the upcoming election – and all elections to follow. It’s important that we all understand what the critical issues are and who best represents you, before you cast your vote.
If everyone takes the time to do research – if everyone takes a moment to listen to the other side, reach across the aisle when necessary, and make decisions based on valid information – then we’ll all be better off in the long run. And government will work the way our forefathers intended.
Christine Scales is the Indianapolis City-County Councilor for District 4.