INDIANAPOLIS – Albion Republican Dave Ober announced Monday he is not seeking re-election to House District 82.
Ober is in his sixth year in the Indiana House. His district includes all of Noble County and portions of Allen, Elkhart, LaGrange and Whitley counties.
He said his recent engagement factored into his decision because his fiancée lives in Indianapolis, and starting a marriage in different cities would have been tough. Then an opening came up on the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission for which he applied.
"It seemed like the right opportunity," Ober said. "We'll see where that goes. We had to make a decision over the weekend so there is plenty of time for others to file."
The deadline to file for the May primary is Feb. 9.
Ober currently chairs the House Utilities, Energy and Telecommunications committee, and is considered by some as a favorite to join the IURC. He is seeking an opinion from the House Ethics Committee on whether he can continue to chair his committee while seeking the job.
There were seven applicants for the post and the public interviews will be held Feb. 6. The IURC Nominating Commission then sends a list of three qualified candidates to Gov. Eric Holcomb to fill the vacancy.
Ober said he will finish the legislative session but won't fulfill his term. If tapped for the IURC he would have to resign more quickly. If not, he would likely resign so that whoever wins the Republican primary could be chosen in a district caucus to take over his seat.
"I'm going to miss all of the friends I've made – people I didn't know well at all are now lifelong friends, and I won't be seeing them every day and interacting," he said. "I'm going to miss the legislative policymaking process. It's been a huge part of my life for the last five years."
The IURC is a state regulatory agency that hears evidence in utility cases – many times resulting in rate increases for residents. The group is supposed by be nonbiased and operating in the public interest.
But sometimes the commission has been seen to favor the industry.
Ober said IURC Chair Jim Atterholt, who is leaving, "did a fantastic job of creating some air between the industry and the commission. I tried to do the same for my committee. Reaffirming that policy of independence that Atterholt had is in the best interest for the commission."
Ober has a computer graphics degree and previously worked for KPC Media Group in Kendallville.
In 2012, he started his own consulting and web developing firm known as Vanguard Strategies in Albion. He has worked as tourism asset coordinator for the Noble County Convention and Visitor Bureau for several years.