There are over 500,000 elected offices in the United States, and most of them sit within 89,000 local governments. In Indianapolis, people make the city, but it can be difficult to see how one, singular voice can drive change without knowing your elected officials and the policies they stand for. Fortunately, in Indianapolis, the Indy Chamber is working to help Hoosiers have their voice heard.
Perhaps one of the most important aspects of driving change you wish to see in our community (besides voting of course) is having the ability to communicate your ideas with an elected official. But let’s be honest, it’s challenging to have a meaningful conversation via social media or email, and most of our leaders have staff dedicated to these forums as opposed to themselves. So how can young professionals gain access and carve out time to meet and get to know their representatives? Might we suggest the following:
Attend a City Council meeting.
City-County Council meetings are a great way to familiarize yourself with key policies and the individuals making those decisions in Indianapolis. Most meetings also allow time for public comment to share opinions about items on the Council agenda Meetings are held at the City County Building and are often scheduled for the second Tuesday evening of each month.
Join a Board, Commission, or Civic Group.
If you’re looking for volunteer experience have specific areas of interest or expertise you may consider serving on a board or commission. In this role, volunteers advise elected officials on a number of policy issues and help citizens engage in the policy-making process. Some of the policy areas that have boards with community members include parks and recreation, economic development, and public safety (to name just a few). There are also a tremendous number of opportunities with civic and interest groups who shape public policy in their own way through expert testimony and bringing issues to the forefront of public discourse. These groups may focus on topics from environmental and education issues to mass transit and racial equity. Organizations like IndyHub and the Indy Chamber would be happy to help you find a group that is best for you.
Attend a political event.
If you’re not ready to attend a board meeting or commit to a volunteer role, you might consider attending a political event, like HobNob. On September 2, 2021, the Indy Chamber will host HobNob. In most years, guests enjoy a more formal program ahead of the coming election season. However, on the heels of a turbulent 2020 and a gap year in elections, this year’s event offers all guests open networking and a chance to let loose throughout the entire evening.
Largely due to my role at the Indy Chamber, I often forget how fortunate I am to have relationships with my community’s elected officials. But especially after a year like 2020, I realize how important it is that all young professionals understand and can participate in local government. For many, HobNob is one of the few events where they’ll quite literally be shoulder-to-shoulder with some of the city and region’s key leaders and policymakers. Which is why a HobNob ticket, in many ways, is like a golden ticket for civic engagement and changemaking in Indy.
One of the first steps towards change is dialogue—and there will be an abundance of connections to make and conversations to be had during this event. Tickets are going fast, and we urge those interested to register as soon as possible.
HobNob ticket options include:
- VIP tickets, which include a moderated panel featuring 10 Mayors from the nine-county region. Doors open to the VIP event at 4 p.m., and the program takes place from 4:30-5:30 p.m. The panel will be moderated by Sarah Waddle, AARP Indiana. VIP tickets cost $50 and include admission to the public reception and a separate bar with free drinks (!).
- Doors open for the public reception at 5:30 p.m., and the event begins at 6 p.m. Public reception tickets cost $10 for Indy Chamber members and $35 for nonmembers.
While we can’t deny how nice it will be to collectively come together again, we also know there continues to be opportunities to build a better, more resilient, more connected Indy region—a region where every single person helps to make our communities great. Secure your ticket today, and get ready to roll up your sleeves, reconnect with colleagues, and to realign with our civic community.
Adam Burtner serves as the Manager of Policy, Permitting, and Regulatory Affairs for Develop Indy, the economic development organization for the City of Indianapolis. Prior to joining the Develop Indy team, Adam served on the Chamber’s Advocacy team leading Policy & Political Affairs and the Chamber’s political action committee and, as well as advocating for the Chamber’s legislative agenda at the Statehouse. Prior to the Indy Chamber, he served as the Executive Director of hunger relief nonprofit HATCH for Hunger, and previously held positions in Former Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard’s Office of Constituent Services, Hathaway Strategies and Huntbridge Inc. Adam holds a Bachelor of Arts in Rhetoric and Political Science from Wabash College and is a lifelong Hoosier currently living in the Central State neighborhood on Downtown’s Westside.