Stephen Goldsmith

Indianapolis mayor

Mayor Goldsmith spoke of what it was like to be elected in the early 90s as a cost-cutting, privatizing mayor faced with a decaying city infrastructure and distrustful unions. Realizing the depth of the problem he had assumed, Goldsmith talked with business leaders and city workers to find a way out of Indianapolis difficulties. In the course of these discussions, Goldsmith was challenged by city workers on his belief that the private sector could provide better service cheaper than they could, that in effect he didn’t understand what their jobs actually entailed. Goldsmith responded in a manner unusual for an elected official – he agreed to spend time working alongside municipal employees in order to see their point of view. It was during this experience that an epiphany came to Goldsmith: the problem in city governance wasn’t that city services were run by public sector employees, but rather that municipal services were bogged down by a bureaucratic, unresponsive top-down management system. Good ideas to improve the way in which the city function existed, but they couldn’t be heard and thus acted upon.

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