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Shreve says business and government experience sets him apart in mayor’s race

Mayor candidates address officer shortage

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Jefferson Shreve said he brings to the mayor’s office a combination of public and private sector experience not unlike that of former Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels.

Shreve, the founder and chief executive officer of Storage Express and a former member of the City-County Council, is challenging Mayor Joe Hogsett in next month’s Indianapolis mayoral election. The winner in November will lead a consolidated city-county government responsible for nearly 1 million people in what is by far Indiana’s most populous county.

Both candidates have raised and spent millions of dollars. The latest campaign finance figures released by the county show Hogsett has raised a little more than $6 million since the beginning of the year. Shreve has raised roughly $14.5 million, though $13.5 million of that has come from his own pocket.

News 8 on Monday night hosted the first live, televised mayoral debate in Indianapolis in roughly 20 years. In addition to the debate, both candidates were asked for an in-depth interview about their policy goals. Shreve accepted News 8’s invitation while Hogsett declined.

Shreve has focused his campaign on public safety, attacking the Democrat mayor over the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department’s ongoing shortage of police officers. He told News 8 the problem is the department is not retaining veteran officers. He said one way to do this is to further raise pay for those officers, as the gap between starting pay and veteran pay is now much narrower than it used to be. Shreve also has called for hiring a full-time public safety director, something all of Hogsett’s predecessors did.

Shreve drew fierce criticism from conservatives this summer when he announced a public safety plan that included requiring a permit to carry a concealed weapon in Marion County, raising the minimum age to purchase a firearm in Marion County to 21 and banning any new sales of military-style rifles. The announcement came two days after the City-County Council, at Hogsett’s urging, passed an ordinance that would do so if state lawmakers ever repeal Indiana’s preemption law. Shreve has defended the plan ever since. He said he based the plan off of testimony from law enforcement, including Indiana State Police Supt. Doug Carter, on issues such as permitless carry.

“It makes (officers’) work more dangerous. It’s harder to do their job if we took a tool like permitting requirements away from them,” he said, adding on the subject of the age requirement, “If you’ve got to be 21 to buy a Budweiser, you ought to be 21 to by a Beretta.”

Shreve said Indianapolis’ economy could benefit tremendously from two planned corridors centering on the city. Purdue University leaders have proposed developing a technology corridor stretching from West Lafayette to the Purdue University Indianapolis campus while Indiana University leaders are exploring a life sciences corridor from Bloomington to the IU Indianapolis campus. Shreve said he would use 16 Tech to anchor those two corridors and he would aggressively market downtown as a place to live and work for the people working at those two universities. He said Indianapolis residents would benefit from the resulting economic growth even if they don’t work in the STEM field.

A study last year by the Common Sense Institute found the Indianapolis metro area is short anywhere from 18,852 to 61,238 affordable housing units. Up to 115,000 might be needed to close the deficit and keep up with population growth by 2028. Shreve said the solution to the affordable housing crisis is to reduce regulatory hurdles for developers. He said adding to the housing supply would drive down housing costs.

More than 200,000 Indianapolis residents live in a food desert, defined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as an area with a large number of people on low incomes who live more than 1 mile from the nearest supermarket. Shreve said he would offer incentives to convert abandoned, small retail properties into grocery stores.

“If we can take this dead, disused former CVS or Walgreen’s space, and bring in compact grocery retailers that want to provide services, I think that is a pathway to a solution that we can do on scale,” he said. “We’ve got to do this on scale if we’re going to move the needle on this in Indianapolis.”

Shreve said his combination of public and private sector experience means he understands how to run an efficient, effective organization but also understands how city government works. He compared his skill portfolio to that of former Gov. Mitch Daniels, who had worked at Eli Lilly & Co. and in the Bush White House before becoming governor.

Early voting is underway, with additional vote centers opening on Saturday. Election Day is Nov. 7. Due to the intricacies of Marion County’s consolidated city-county government, voters in Lawrence, Beech Grove and Southport will need to vote for mayors of those communities as well as for Indianapolis.