INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana House incumbents arent getting a free ride for this years primary election.
Three area residents have stepped up to challenge current House members in their races. The winners will serve a two-year term, making about $22,600 a year plus a daily expense stipend.
House District 83
In the district serving most of Whitley County and a small part of Allen County, Rep. Kathy Heuer, R-Columbia City, wants to serve a second term to see what a more normal legislative tenor would be like.
Her first year in 2011 was marked by a five-week walkout by House Democrats, and the 2012 session brought mass union protests.
I dont know anything different than contentiousness, said Heuer, a 63-year-old real estate broker and small businesswoman. I think I got a better view of how the legislature works the second half of the session when there was much more bipartisanship.
That was after the nasty right-to-work fight that clouded the first half.
Its working, she said of that bill. We are getting more calls to our state for possible expansion or bringing new jobs.
Heuer, who is married to a local judge and has seven children, wants to focus more on economic development if she is re-elected.
Specifically she would like to review the business tax code, which she hopes to study this summer, and offer up legislation next year.
Heuer said she isnt taking her re-election for granted, especially since 70 percent of her district is new following the drawing of new legislative boundaries. She is walking every day and has knocked on 1,600 doors so far.
She has to get by challenger Keith Potter, 58, of Aboite Township.
He teaches U.S. government at Homestead High School and has been elected twice to the Aboite Township Advisory Board.
With redistricting, the 83rd was changed dramatically, so I felt this was a good time to run, said Potter, who is married with one daughter.
His primary campaign focus is maintaining a good economic climate for business and bringing jobs in.
Anything you can do to minimize regulations, he said. Thats the biggest obstacle for people trying to start up new businesses.
Potter also said he would like to see job training as a requirement for continued unemployment compensation to ensure the workforce is educated for the future.
As a teacher for 35 years, he would also focus on the technology needs that schools have. He said its not enough to buy computers, noting some teachers didnt grow up with computers and dont know how to integrate them into class.
Potter said he is willing to see if state-paid vouchers to private school works but would have preferred if the legislature limited it to kids trapped in failing or underperforming schools.
We should have concentrated it more, he said. Now we are taking money away from succeeding schools.
The longtime Republican is also an advocate for the township system, especially in rural areas.
House District 85
Rep. Phyllis Pond, R-New Haven, has long served this district, which covers most of northeast Allen County.
Her Republican challenger is familiar; Denny Worman has tried to unseat Pond on three other occasions.
Pond – at age 81 – has been in the Indiana House since 1978 and is interested in serving another term or two.
There is stuff that needs to be done, so Im not ready to give it up yet, the retired teacher said. We need to keep the state in good financial condition so we dont blow all the good things weve done in eight years.
Pond especially wants to examine whether the state is doing all it can to protect Indianas children from abuse and neglect – a hot button issue for Gov. Mitch Daniels administration in recent months. There is a study committee this year on the topic that Pond hopes will be fruitful.
She missed part of the 2012 session because of a major back operation but returned to her desk quickly. She said she drives around with yard signs in her trunk, waiting to see if her opponent puts any up.
Pond said she has had several town hall meetings with constituents, who largely have had questions about recent activity in the legislature, such as the new smoking ban and education reforms.
Mostly they want to make sure we keep things going the way they are; not raising taxes, improving education, she said.
Worman, 58, has spent 18 years in commercial real estate – finding land for developments that bring jobs to the area. He said he keeps running against Pond to give voters a choice.
Phyllis is a nice lady, but I think its time for a change, he said. I think there should be term limits. Either move up or move out.
He noted Pond tends to focus on education while he said the primary issue facing the legislature is jobs, jobs, jobs.
Worman, a husband and father of three, believes more money should be spent on economic development efforts, both on the state level and the local level. He said the money will be recouped in increased tax revenue.
We just need to find funds to make these things happen. I havent really come up with specific ideas, he said. We also need to limit zoning and environmental regulations so businesses can move quickly.
A Worman flier also said he wants to strengthen the moral character of our government, laws, and education.
House District 22
Rep. Rebecca Kubacki, R-Syracuse, is taking her unique personal story back to the voters in hopes of getting a second term in the Indiana House.
The district now covers about half of Kosciusko County and some of Elkhart County, and the former stay-at-home mom and community volunteer wants to build on economic development advancements such as the controversial right-to-work law affecting unions.
We have to do whatever we can to put people back to work. My goal is to have Indiana have the lowest unemployment rate in the country, she said. We need to go after it.
Kubacki, 59, is the daughter of migrant workers who picked tomatoes on a farm about five miles from where she now lives. She has been married for 39 years and has two children.
I spent my entire adult life fundraising, helping charities, doing volunteer work, she said. We wanted our children to know you contribute to your community no matter where you live.
The political novice knocked off a veteran incumbent in 2010 and is ready for another term.
She also wants to work on providing some state funding for preschool education. Indiana is the only state in the nation that has no preschool funding.
Kubacki, who is Hispanic, said it is especially needed for minorities to try to close the achievement gap before it starts.
Her opponent, volunteer firefighter Jon Hare of Milford, is a 41-year-old father and lifelong resident of Kosciusko County.
He is a field technician and a 15-year journeyman card holder with International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150, where he has held the offices of election commissioner and union steward.
Hare is running as a Republican against Kubacki.
This is the first time I have run for any office, he said. I decided to run because I felt the people in our district were not being represented well and there was a lack of communication when asked questions about bills being voted on.
He said major issues are jobs moving out of the area and finding more funding for high schools to offer more industrial manufacturing classes.