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(INDIANAPOLIS) – Indy’s last four mayors agree it’ll take partnerships with business and community organizations to make inroads against poverty.

Democrats Joe Hogsett and Bart Peterson and Republicans Greg Ballard and Steve Goldsmith shared the stage at a United Way-sponsored discussion, and.agreed there’s no silver-bullet solution.

Peterson says Goldsmith hasn’t received enough credit for his strategy of creating a neighborhood-level leadership infrastructure. But Goldsmith says that’s not enough by itself. He recalls his administration poured hundreds of millions of dollars into neighborhood revitalization efforts, and not all of them succeeded. The ones which did, he says, were the ones where businesses and schools became active partners.

Hogsett says those partnerships are still needed today, on several fronts. He says one of the biggest ways they could help is through mentoring Indianapolis teenagers. He says there’s a significant unmet need.

Peterson and Goldsmith say businesses also need to help out by raising wages. Peterson says he’s increasingly in favor of a “significant” jump in the minimum wage, but says he’d prefer to see businesses do it on their own. Goldsmith says businesses need to recognize they have a stake in the success of the community, and paying wages people can live on is one way they can affect it directly.

Hogsett and Ballard credit Peterson with a major step in creating opportunity for the city’s poor by breaking a longstanding legislative stalemate to win passage of Indiana’s charter schools law.

And Hogsett says the advice of an absent predecessor, the late Bill Hudnut, applies to the search for ways to help the poor. He says Hudnut called him in his first month as mayor in 2016 and advised him, “Sometimes doing something big can be easier than doing something small.”

L to R: Mayor Joe Hogsett and former Mayors Greg Ballard, Bart Peterson and Steve Goldsmith (Photo: Eric Berman/WIBC)