Niki Kelly: My Christmas wish list for Indiana

By Niki Kelly

Guest columnist

Dear Santa,

I know I’m a little old to be writing to you but I’ve been watching so many cheesy Christmas movies that I figure this is worth a try.

So here is a list of what I want for Christmas. I know it’s pretty big and some might be outside your purview, but a girl has to wish.

  • A fair resolution to the water pipeline controversy. The LEAP innovation park in Lebanon pioneered by the Indiana Economic Development Corporation is a taxpayer-funded gamble likely to pay off with massive investment and job creation. But it’s not too late to come up with a solution that helps everyone on the issue of water. The thought of diverting a hundred million gallons of water a day from Tippecanoe County to central Indiana is massive. I hope there can be a limit found so that both sides feel their water needs are met. And lawmakers should take the opportunity to set a statewide policy tracking and authorizing large water withdrawals.
  • A substantive governor’s race with detailed plans and discussions. This starts with avoiding national issues that have no place in the race for the state’s top office, such as China and border security. These are national issues that are largely partisan and don’t help a voter decide who should be governor. Instead, candidates from all parties should focus on specific proposals to address rising property taxes, lack of child care options, road funding challenges, education policy and stagnant wage growth. These are all things a governor actually impacts.
  • A smooth election season. People should have a fair opportunity to vote without threats or concerns about integrity. Conspiracy theories and outright lies about vote-counting have tainted the election system. Hoosiers should know their votes are safe and secure.
  • A do-no-harm legislative session. I would actually like a more meaningful session that makes progress on key issues but that seems to be off the table — especially if it costs money. So I will settle for lawmakers not hurting constituents, whether that means female, gay and poor Hoosiers or the rest of the electorate.
  • Continued exploration of a great state. Gov. Eric Holcomb recently narrated dozens of small videos highlighting Indiana attractions, history and traditions. My wish is for all Hoosiers to select a few that they haven’t experienced and get to know their own state. I have chosen two: a tour of Columbus to explore its architecture, and a visit to the Eiteljorg Museum. I can’t believe I have never been to the museum despite working steps away for decades.
  • Fewer potholes this winter. Maybe Mother Nature will give us a moderate winter to help out, though how quickly they are filled is on state and local officials.
  • For the state’s cat lovers to get to know First Cat Topper. No one will ever replace First Dog Henry. I loved seeing him in the Statehouse and watching kids and others interact with him. He was an Indiana ambassador. Topper can hopefully provide the Holcombs and us some solace. Can you imagine Topper in a harness walking through the marbled halls of the Statehouse? (On second thought … maybe I need to rethink this one.)

Well, Santa, thanks for reading my letter this year. I know these won’t fit under the tree, but I look forward to seeing what you come up with.

— Niki

Niki Kelly is editor-in-chief of, where this commentary first appeared. She has covered Indiana politics and the Indiana Statehouse since 1999 for publications including the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette. Send comments to [email protected].