Ballard pledges “we will keep working to the end,” decides against third term

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(Nov. 6, 2014) – Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard won’t run for a third term, he announced Thursday.

FOX59 News learned of Ballard’s intention on Wednesday.

“When I first decided to run for mayor no one thought we could win,” Ballard told a group of supporters and former aides at the City Market announcement as he recalled is unexpected 2007 victory. “That’s an understatement. I heard the same refrain in 2011. Despite knowing that we could win again in 2015, today I’m announcing I am not seeking a third term as the mayor of Indianapolis.”

Ballard highlighted the fiscal stability, downtown development and infrastructure improvements that occurred on his watch.

“Eight years ago it hadn’t even crossed my mind to run for mayor of Indianapolis let alone finding myself here today talking about the future of our great city. Back then we only dreamed of hosting a Super Bowl when now we look back at those ten days when everyone said Indy hosted the best Super Bowl ever.”

The mayor ticked off a list of accomplishments that includes more residential, retail and corporate development in the city’s core, the recovery from the Great Recession and his commitment to bike paths, alternative fuel vehicles and sustainability.

“We did not shy away from the challenges. We worked to build a new public hospital. We launched Rebuild Indy to improve our streets, our neighborhoods, our trails, our sidewalks. We proposed a plan for our new criminal justice center. We are moving forward with regional mass transit and we are finally turning the old Market Square Arena into something other than parking lots.”

What was left unsaid were controversies over the problem-plagued Regional Operations Center, dwindling police ranks and skyrocketing murder rates and a cricket field complex on the east side that is so far without host tournaments or national sponsors.

“We aren’t done yet and have no intention of taking our foot off the pedal,” he said, hinting that, “we will continue to do big things for the next 14 months. There’s a saying in the Marine Corps that a Marine officer never gets short. In other words, we will keep working to the end.

“Serving as the mayor was a great honor and we have put Indy on a course for decades of success.

“The attitude in this city is much different than it was just a few years ago, much more positive and I am grateful for the trust the citizens have put in me.”

Ballard is rumored to be interested in the presidency of Cathedral High School, his alma mater on the city’s east side.

Former U.S. Attorney Joe Hogsett is expected to announce his candidacy for the mayor’s office next year.

Marion County Republicans have yet to favor a candidate to succeed Ballard.

Here’s a message the mayor sent to supporters Thursday:

Friends,

Thank you so much for the overwhelming support you have given Winnie and me over the last several years. We could not have won without you, and more important, we could not have transformed the city in so many positive ways.

I am sincerely grateful.

As I look back at the last seven years that I have had the honor of serving as Mayor of Indianapolis, two things make me the proudest. First, we attracted a lot of great people to serve the city – one of the best groups of people to serve this city in decades. And second, because of those great people, we tackled issues that had been kicked down the road for a long time or hadn’t been figured out financially.

We didn’t shy away from the challenges. We worked to build a new public hospital. We launched Rebuild Indy to improve our neighborhoods, streets, trails and sidewalks. We proposed a plan for a new criminal justice center. We are moving forward with regional mass transit. And, we are finally turning the old Market Square Arena into something other than parking lots.

Indy has accomplished many big things that generated headlines and many big things that didn’t. Our work to make our water cleaner, faster, will still be the greatest accomplishment that most Indy residents hardly know about. We inherited a sewer plan facing hundreds of millions of dollars in cost overruns. But David Sherman and his team re-engineered that system.

We renegotiated our agreement with the EPA and developed a plan that saved Indy residents nearly a billion dollars. Now, cities across the country look to us as the model.

Another highlight that rarely gets mentioned is the fiscal stability of our city. When I took office, our city faced a crippling projected budget deficit and property taxes were skyrocketing. I stood up for property tax caps, and we managed our way through the Great Recession. While other cities across the country laid-off employees and cut services, we did not. We stabilized the budget. We restored our credit ratings. And, we kept our city growing, all while slashing the city debt.

In so many ways, we’ve made government work better and cost less. We brought Six Sigma process improvement to the city and saved nearly $17 million for taxpayers. We eliminated the backlog of discrimination claims and cut the time it takes to resolve a case by about 75 percent. And we modernized the Mayor’s Action Center.

Indy is the city, led by a Republican Mayor, which is getting nationally noticed for sustainability. Indy is the city that other places across the country seek to emulate in the areas of cycling, electric vehicles, parking, urban revival and economic growth.

Our future is immensely bright. Our population is growing at its fastest pace since the early 1990’s. Our economy is growing twice as fast as the national average, ranking in the top ten cities across the country in that category.

Indy is the city that kept building, despite the recession. Everywhere you look you see signs of progress and things getting done. Look at the transformation that’s taking place at the old Central State Hospital, Winona Hospital, the Meadows, Keystone Towers and Bush Stadium. A month ago, we broke ground on the Downtown Transit Center. And Cummins is building a global divisional headquarters in downtown Indy.

The City Market is now a buzz of activity. The grand hall is filled with shoppers and people grabbing a bite to eat. The Bike Hub is attracting cyclists from across the city and people working out before or after work. We also now have a single place for talented people to collaborate to make our neighborhoods even better places to live and work.

Eight years ago, it hadn’t even crossed my mind to run for Mayor of Indianapolis. Back then, we only dreamed of hosting a Super Bowl. Now we proudly look back at those ten days when the media said Indy hosted history’s best Super Bowl event.

Indy is filled with excitement and growth. While we face challenges, we have the talent and the community spirit to come together to address them.

I look forward to continuing to play a role in Indy’s progress in the years to come. But, come 2016, my role will be a different one.

As you know, I don’t follow the same patterns as professional politicians. When I first decided to run for Mayor, no one thought we could win. I heard the same refrain in 2011. And, despite knowing we can win again in 2015, today I am announcing that I will not seek a third term as Mayor of Indianapolis.

As I have said for weeks, the decision is very personal for me. Winnie and I have raised two wonderful children who are both on their own right now. As a Marine and as Mayor, I have committed most of my life to service, but there are other things Winnie and I want to be able to do. That is why I’ve reached this decision.

But, I’m not done yet. We will continue to seize every opportunity to make Indy an even better place to live, work, learn and raise a family. In the past few years we have greatly expanded the educational opportunities for children in our city and just yesterday we announced a bi-partisan agreement to fund my bold new preschool initiative for children in Indy from low-income families.

We aren’t done yet – and we have no intention of taking our foot off the pedal. I have been fortunate to have a great team of people join me in service to our city and I can tell you we won’t stop thinking, dreaming, and acting on behalf of Indy. We will continue to do big things for the next 14 months.

There is a saying in the Marine Corps: a Marine officer never gets short. In other words, you keep working until the end. We will do that.

Serving this city as Mayor is a great honor. Our work is putting Indy on course for decades of success. People and places once thought forgotten by their government now hold a new optimism about the future, and hope about the possibility of what may come next. The attitude in this city is much different, much more positive than just a few years ago.

I am grateful for the trust you have placed in me. I will continue to honor that every day. And, I will never stop seeking opportunities to promote and encourage the great things about this great city.

Thank you for all you have done and I look forward to seeing you again soon.

Indiana Republican Party Chairman Tim Berry sent the following statement on Ballard’s decision:

“I would like to thank Mayor Greg Ballard for his tireless work and dedication to public service. He has made Indianapolis financially stronger and more vibrant than when he took over eight years ago.

“Under Ballard’s watch, Indianapolis stood tall in the national spotlight as a Super Bowl host city and added a world-class stadium and airport terminal. Ballard fought to protect taxpayers, bolster businesses, expand education opportunities and make Indiana’s largest city, a destination city. His focus was always making Indianapolis a better place and that’s certainly a part of the legacy he will leave behind.”