Ali Brown is about to start her second term on the Indianapolis City-County Council, representing Lawrence’s District 5 residents. Brown was unopposed in her Nov. 7 bid for reelection, which she said was a surprise.
“I was shocked, frankly,” she said. “The seat I had won in 2019, I had flipped 20 points. The Democrat prior to me had lost by 10 and I won by 10.”
That was before redistricting, though, when District 5 included some of the more conservative and affluent neighborhoods in Geist. Starting in January, District 5 will represent Lawrence south of 75th Street, which includes more neighborhoods that face economic challenges.
“I’ll be picking up the areas in old Lawrence that need a lot of love, need a lot of work,” she said. “Whether that’s wastewater, stormwater work, or if that’s making sure that there’s sidewalks and access points and, you know, just fresh food.”
Brown said she decided to run for public office because she felt young families were underrepresented, when that demographic counts for the majority of the community
“We spend a lot of time in the City of Indianapolis talking about luring business here and bringing jobs and tourists and all that kind of stuff, and that’s really important,” she said. “But when you live in Lawrence, what you’re seeing there is mostly young families trying to make it work. So, I decided to run to be representative of that.”
Brown and her husband have an almost-7-year-old son. She said she understands the challenges of navigating the cost of child care, transportation and services.
“I very strongly believe that no matter where a child is born or who that child is born to, they should all have the same opportunity to have that chance to reach their potential in life,” she said.
Brown said she believes that she helped make progress in that area, although “75 days into my first term, the world shut down for COVID.”
In the two years it has been able to truly get work done, though, Brown said the City-County Council has accomplished some of her goals, including opening the Indianapolis Public Library’s Fort Ben Branch this summer.
“That’s my baby,” she said. “I was so very excited to bring that to Lawrence to make sure that got fully funded even with the prices changing during COVID.”
She also touted the Fort Ben Branch’s autism certification, which required staff training to provide services to neurodiverse populations. Brown said she launched the Indy Autism Project in 2020 to encourage better services for people with autism, which led her to additional efforts to expand services.
“I started working in that space with people because my son is autistic,” she said. “I’ve connected with other people in the disability space and have worked to make meetings — city government — more accessible to people who are deaf or hard of hearing. None of our meetings were live captioned, so you were kind of relying on what your television captioned, which doesn’t really work when you’re talking street names and people’s names and all that kind of stuff. Now, every meeting that comes out of the city and county has live captions and is also available in Spanish.”
Brown said she also worked to support bringing the Purple Line to Lawrence. The new rapid-transit line will go from downtown Indianapolis to the Ivy Tech Community College campus on 59th Street, cutting the wait time between buses serving Lawrence from about an hour to only 15 minutes. It’s expected to be completed in fall 2024.
“Making sure that people from District 5 … have that access is really important,” she said. “We’ve seen that not only does that access in general uplift the community — so people have access to getting jobs and to getting groceries and things like that — but we’re also seeing with the transit-oriented development a lot of reinvestment into areas like 38th Street, and we’re going to see it here on Post Road into areas that have been left behind.”
Brown said that moving forward, she wants to focus on how to provide more affordable child care for families, additional road repairs and improving public safety. She said she also wants to be able to use her soapbox to bring more awareness and services to the issue of infant mortality. Brown said Marion County’s infant mortality rate is higher than the state average, and the state’s average is higher than the national.
Brown encouraged any constituent with questions or concerns to reach out to her. For contact information, visit indy.gov/activity/councillor-ali-brown.