Introducing MOVING FORWARD, a new op-ed column by Randy Smith.


I’ve long admired Randy Smith’s writing, and consequently it is a great pleasure to publish his new op-ed column here at NA Confidential. We’ll get to a publication schedule in time. For now, kindly allow Randy to provide an overview of what’s to come. 

I want to thank my friend Roger Baylor for his work over the past 15 years in making NA Confidential the most reliable source of news, analysis, research, and opinion. Though his readership only numbers in the low thousands, that still towers over the New Albany circulation figures of the Jeffersonville newspaper. I still don’t understand why Roger doesn’t accept advertising.

For more than a century, New Albany had a newspaper. The Jeffersonville paper, owned by a pension fund in Alabama, pays rent for an office here, but if one wants honest coverage of local government, NA Confidential is pretty much the only remaining source for consistent reporting and analysis.

As for me, I’m a daily reader of NA Confidential. Over the last eight years, I’ve reduced my public participation in civic affairs to a whisper. But that does not mean that I have lost interest. I remain engaged and (mostly) silent.

NA Confidential allows me to stay engaged.

As we enter the stretch run of 2019’s municipal elections, I find myself seeking candidates who can bring about a better New Albany. I’m a Democrat for life (DFL?), but when it comes to New Albany politics and policy, I’m the ultimate pragmatist.

As it stands, I can’t bring myself to vote for any of the incumbents, least of all the incumbent Democrats. And yet, I yearn for a city led by Democrats who deserve to carry the party banner.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I have not ruled out running for public office this year or in the future. Obviously, I am ineligible to run under a party label. But unless and until I make that decision, I’ve decided to lay out a few very specific legislative and/or executive actions that I would like to see put into effect.

Over the coming weeks, I will be submitting long-form policy proposals that constitute my own limited platform. Where possible, I will endorse and vote for candidates who can show an understanding of and a basic support for these specific proposals.

There was a time that I felt I could influence as many as 200 voters. By retreating from the arena, I have surrendered that influence. Nonetheless, I am a voter. At the least, I have one vote and this voter would like to see candidates who can and will respond to my proposals.

There was a time when a mayor and some members of the city council were responsive to things like this. Personally, I lament the loss of these leaders. For example, John Gonder, a former member of the council, was the first to propose a city-led revitalization of the Colonial Manor shopping center. Gonder and former council member Jack Messer proposed a rational program to create a city-only administrative center that would have cost this city far less than the abomination that Roger calls the Reisz Mahal.

I chose to live here in New Albany. I was not born here. I did not graduate from high school here. It can be theorized that New Albany’s future is dependent on people like me who choose to live here, for if people like me don’t choose to live and work here, our prospects are limited. Indiana stands out as one of the states where the highest percentage of people living here were born here. That’s not a plus.

For the first eight years living here, I was the ultimate optimist, the most vigorous of promoters for New Albany and its potential. At this point, my business (15 years here) qualifies as one of the oldest downtown businesses. That, in itself, is a terrible indicator.

Mayor Gahan has done great damage to New Albany. Having been advised by a man known as the worst mayor in New Albany’s 203-year history, he has climbed to the pinnacle and taken that title as his own. As November approaches, he seeks a third term. That is almost unprecedented. I am certain that Gahan would reject every single one of the proposals you will read over the next several weeks. Accordingly, you will reasonably expect that I will not be endorsing nor voting for Gahan this year.

Again, I want to thank Roger Baylor and the editors of NA Confidential for accepting these modest (but serious) proposals as op-eds. I look forward to any feedback. Roger will decide the publication schedule, of course, but I invite any of the nominated candidates to contact me if they would like to hear more about these proposals as the campaign for city office continues. I would like nothing more than to see candidates adopt these proposals and commit to a progressive future for the city I’ve chosen to live in and invest in.