Ballard talks transportation, future


Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard is finishing his fifth year in office and while he says he's not yet thinking about the next election, he is thinking about his legacy.

In a year-end interview, Ballard told Eyewitness News about one big thing he wants to accomplish, the sooner, the better.

Hoosiers love their cars. The mayor wants them to learn to love buses and trains too.

"This is about talent and traction for me. This is about attracting those 20- and 30-year-olds that are going to open up entrepreneurial businesses and raise their families here. That's the people we are really trying to attract," Ballard said. "So if we are going to attract that talent, we have to do this. To me, this is not an expense. This is an investment. I mean, this is a pure investment.

Part of the mayor's fight will involve getting voters to approve the taxes to invest into the plan.

"We have to convince them that there is a return on it," Ballard said. "You can say it's an expense and it's going to cost this much, but in the bigger picture, the more holistic picture, it should add to the tax base, which will add to the quality of life for everybody. That's the intent of it all."

Ballard admits it's not going to be easy.

"It's a tough sell. It's hard to explain," he said.

The mayor has also seemed to have kept a lower profile in his second term in office.

"It seemed like I was everywhere for the first four years and it was a very hectic schedule and I probably needed to pull back a little bit. I'm starting to get out a little more now, I think you've seen a lot more announcements in the last few weeks and I think you are going to see more into the new year, but it's going to be big things. Big things that can affect the city over the long haul," the mayor said.

But in a world where politics never stops and with the next election three years away, is it an indication Ballard won't seek a third term?

"Oh, no. I don't think so at all. We're still raising money, so that might be some indicator, but we want to do that anyway to make sure that, if we make that's funny, last time I made that call a lot later than people thought. Everybody assumed I was going to do it, but the call was made a lot later because this is taxing, personally, on me and my wife. You always have to make that call, so we'll see as we go forward. It's not an easy call to make and it can wear on you, frankly," Ballard said.

That's not to say the mayor is losing his enthusiasm for the job. In fact, he says he hopes to make some major jobs and economic announcements in the early part of the new year.