Meet Keith Graves, District 9 Indianapolis City-County Councilor


Keith Graves is excited about what’s been accomplished in his first term on the Indianapolis City-County Council and looks forward to maintaining that momentum.

Graves, 57, is the elected District 9 representative on the Indianapolis City-County Council, serving parts of Lawrence. The Democrat won his seat Nov. 7 against Republican challenger Chris Moore.

Graves has been the District 13 representative for the past four years, but following redistricting, his district changed boundaries along with its numerical designation. Although he lost some Lawrence residents in that shift, Graves still represents portions of Lawrence that fall inside of 465, in addition to other east side Indianapolis neighborhoods.

Graves said he started his political career by listening to what the people wanted. A big priority for them was community revitalization, he said, which means improving streets and blighted areas.

“The other thing was focusing on criminal justice and looking to see if there’s any need for reform, and really focusing on the stressors of life that cause people to select and choose crime as an option,” he said. “And finally, they wanted me to be available and focus on each and every member of our community from the youngest to the oldest.”

Graves said that while there’s room for improvement, statistics show that Indianapolis has made positive changes in crime rates.

“You can’t not be excited that those numbers are going the right way every year that I’ve been on the council,” he said. “We’ve seen a decline each year in crime — that’s property and violent crime in our community. We’re talking from 2020 to 2022, nearly 700 fewer incidents. I think that’s important because it’s exactly what my neighbors asked me to do.”

Graves cited a multi-layered approach that the council took with the mayor’s office to add more officers, provide up-to-date equipment for law enforcement and work with nonprofit organizations that provide services for people with substance abuse and mental illnesses.

For community revitalization, Graves said he and other councilmembers supported construction of IndyGo’s Purple Line, a rapid transit line from downtown Indianapolis to the Ivy Tech Community College campus on 59th Street. The line is expected to be completed in fall of 2024.

Graves said the new transit line will not only help people get to and from jobs and shopping, it includes millions in infrastructure improvements along the route.

“38th Street is the recipient of about $200 million in road revitalization as a result of the Purple Line that resolved drainage issues that those people who live on the east side, myself included, would have to deal with each time it rains,” he said. “We’re talking puddles on 38th Street, one of the most-traveled streets in the city. If you’re unfortunately on that bus stop or you’re walking down the sidewalk on 38th Street in the rain, you’re going get splashed. Hopefully, you find a sidewalk to even walk on. So., I’m just excited that we were able to put $200 million into our roads and our sidewalks and beautify our green spaces.”

Graves said he also helped bring a Cook Medical manufacturing facility to 38th Street, which led to a partnership that helped local entrepreneurs open the Indy Fresh Market at 6002 E. 38th St.

Cook Medical financed the new grocery store, and helped the owners get trained in grocery store management. And the new store means the area is no longer a food desert.

“I’ve never seen people crying, walking into a grocery store — people going live on social media, people taking pictures. It was like they were in a museum,” he said, recalling when the store opened in late summer. “It’s a beautiful grocery store with great fruit and vegetables and, you know, the meat counter and the hot food counter. It’s just a great grocery store. And the aisles are named after streets in our community.”

Graves said those projects led to Eskanazi Health opening a facility in the area, along with a new Horizon Bank and a housing development in the works. He said all those projects are the result of many conversations and a lot of collaboration.

The third priority his constituents asked of him was to be present. Graves said he works hard to make sure they see him.

“Every day or two, I’m somewhere that I would not be had I not been on the council,” he said. “My community asked me to do these things. It’s created in me a very busy schedule and I welcome it. I’m at grand openings and I’m at vigils and I’m at challenging meetings — community advocacy meetings and police-action shooting meetings.”

Graves said he lived in the community he serves as a young man, too, and understands how difficult it can be. He had the support of coaches, mentors and church leaders, he said, which helped him get through those challenging years, get into college and join the U.S. Army Reserves. Now, as a parent who works in the finance industry, he said he wants to give back to his community.

Graves said his plan for the next four years is to keep doing what he’s been doing.

“That’s the only thing I want to do is more,” he said. “I have so many more communities and so many more corners and so many more 38th Streets that I want to impact.”

For Graves’ contact information, visit