Protecting Democracy in Hamilton County: All Candidates Should be Included in All the Debates

Friends, we have come to that time of the campaign season where everyone is talking about debates, so I want to state my campaign’s position very clearly. All organizations in Hamilton County should always be doing everything they can to protect the great American experiment of democracy. All leaders and all citizens should always be working diligently to allow for full participation by their fellow leaders and citizens in all electoral processes. Instead, it is troubling that there are organizations and leaders that would stifle democracy and hinder others from participating in the great American experiment.

I am a hard-working citizen, a tax-paying voter, and a Westside resident who this year has accomplished what has never been done in the 230-year history of Hamilton County. In a historic effort, I turned in 6,847 signatures to the Board of Elections in January 2020 to qualify as a Candidate for Commissioner on the November 3rd ballot. On May 12th, I was certified as the first Independent to ever run for the nonpartisan role of Hamilton County Commissioner. I am humbled by many amazing voters of Hamilton County who signed my petitions over a 10-month period.

It is therefore with great sadness that I have learned of a decision by a local organization to leave me out of the first debate in the 2020 Hamilton County Commissioner election. This is frustrating and deeply disappointing. Our County voters deserve to hear from all the candidates in the race for Commissioner. This is only a 3-person race and it is outrageous to leave the third candidate out of the debate. What is even so troubling is that the party candidates turned in less than 150 signatures each. I turned in more than 136X the number of signatures that they turned in.  

Many of our local organizations are known for espousing the values of inclusion, diversity, growing local talent, connecting the community, and growing business. It is essential that they demonstrate a commitment to living up to these values in everything that they do. The act of leaving out any candidate is exclusionary and a mark of privilege by those in power who engender disenfranchisement in our society. In this day and era, the public is crying out for equality for all.

It is a disservice to the residents of Hamilton County to leave out a candidate from the debate and an affront to those who signed my petitions to show them that their signatures do not count. While I may not poll as high as candidates who are backed by political parties, I turned in more than 136 times the number of signatures that they turned in to be on the ballot. I may not have as much money as they do but our county voters deserve to see a more level playing field.

I have labored more than the two-party candidates to attain ballot access. I have directly spoken to more than 12,000 residents over the past two years. This is not my first rodeo. In 2018 I turned in 3,497 signatures to run against an incumbent because I knew I could beat him but fell short of the signature requirement due to a short window of collection. In 2019, I demonstrated resilience and petitioned again to run against another incumbent because I knew I could beat him. Unfortunately, he passed on, but I am on the ballot. I can win this race.

All in all, I have turned in more than 9,000 signatures to the Hamilton County Board of Elections over a two-year period. As Jason Williams at the Enquirer has noted, “This is no small feat”. I am not looking to steal anyone’s thunder, as the other two candidates are also new to the Commissioner race. I have a doctoral degree in Organizational Leadership and completed a 232-page dissertation. I am a recognized leader in my community, a sports coach, and a volunteer in the Catholic parishes in my neighborhood. In 2015 I was awarded the Forty Under 40 award for my work in helping homeless men get off the streets. I have written four books. As an instructor of Global Issues and International Business to numerous students at Indiana Wesleyan University, I have solid ideas that could benefit not just the Chamber of Commerce but the business community and our entire county. Friends, I am a father and a friend to many in Hamilton County.

I am qualified to share my ideas on local issues. My platform is a 32-page document that can be downloaded from my website and is the most comprehensive document ever submitted by a candidate for office in Hamilton County. I have clear plans. Contrast that to the fact that the two party-supported candidates do not have downloadable platforms on their websites. My platform is very future-focused and vision-oriented – exactly what Hamilton County residents need in a candidate for Commissioner.

More importantly, there is no incumbent in this race. All three candidates have a fair shot at winning. I appeal to all the organizing committees of all debates to please ensure that all the candidates are included in all the debates. Let us make this campaign about ideas. Let us advance a Hamilton County where everyone is given a fair chance to go as far as their abilities can take them. Our county is a place where all belong. I have done what it takes. I belong.

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