Portrayals of Indianapolis during the past 50 years tend to focus on the transformation of its Downtown – its expanded and reshaped skyline, the emergence of a growing tech hub and a collegiate and professional sports rebranding to transcend the city’s association with just motorsports. To the east of Downtown and all the way to the county line is a swath of the city where the trajectory has been more difficult as the result of white flight, failing schools and gun violence so pervasive that it threatens to move Indianapolis into the ranks of the nation’s murder capitals; its 46218 zip code was declared a city hot spot for COVID-19. The Indianapolis Eastside is contained largely within Indiana House District 98, represented by Democrat Robin Shackleford; her background is in project management, lobbying, and a succession of state and city agencies including a stint in the office of former Mayor Bart Peterson. In 2019, she became chair of the Indiana Black Legislative Caucus comprised of 13 members of the Indiana House and Senate.
Shackleford’s arrival in 2012 coincided with Republicans winning a 2-to-1 supermajority in the House, an advantage that continues to stop most of the Democratic legislative agenda in its tracks. Shackleford considered it a point of pride when in 2019 she saw two bills that she authored passed and signed into law. The first established a temporary amnesty by which drivers whose licenses have been suspended due to unpaid traffic fines can have them reinstated, with the fines reduced or billed on a payment plan; Shackleford estimated the number of affected drivers at 400,000. The second bill assigned a legislative study committee the topic of prescription drug pricing and how it affects access.
SB 198-2019 (Sentencing, bias crimes). Allowed longer sentences in crimes based on personal characteristics, stripped of references to sexual orientation, gender identity and race. No
SB 516-2019 (Regulation of hemp). Allowed cultivation and regulation of hemp products in Indiana, did not change marijuana laws. Yes
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Farmer; formerly legislative staff, home detention officer.
Butler University (BA).
After an arrest in August 2019 and frequent absences during the 2019 and 2020 legislative sessions, Forestal had begun laying the groundwork to seek another term but ultimately withdrew from the race, clearing a path for Robert Blake Johnson, an Indianapolis City-County Council member, to run. Following another arrest in June 2020, Forestal resigned and Johnson, who
Race/Ethnic Origin: 77.8% white, 8.8% black, 8.4% other, 2.2% Asian, 2.9 % two or more; 72.8% white non-Hispanic, 13.9% Hispanic.