Educator considering House run

A Seymour Republican announced Thursday she is considering running for the House seat held by Seymour resident Jim Lucas.

By establishing an exploratory campaign committee, Nancy Franke said, she plans to do something in the coming months that others in House District 69 have not done.

“Listen,” said Franke, who is a teacher at St. Peter’s Lutheran School in Columbus.

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“I want to make the people of District 69 a priority by listening to what our citizens’ greatest needs are and how they think we should tackle our concerns,” she said.

Lucas, a Republican in his second two-year term, said he would welcome Franke to the campaign if she decides to run.

“I know education is one of her hot button issues,” he said. “I look forward to debating Mrs. Franke on this issue and any other issue she feels haven’t been addressed.”

Lucas, who didn’t face any competition for the seat in 2014, said he believes he has always done a good job of listening to people 24/7.

“I’m always accessible and easy to get a hold of, and I’ve reached out to the community,” Lucas said.

Former Seymour Principal Jim McCormick, a Democrat, ran against Lucas in the fall of 2012. Before that time, District 69 did not include most of Jackson County, but the district boundaries were changed after the 2010 U.S. Census and now include portions of Bartholomew, Jackson, Jefferson and Jennings counties.

Franke said establishing the exploratory committee with the state election division will allow her to officially raise funds toward a race.

“I know I will never raise the kind of funds the incumbent has, but I also do not want donations of tens of thousands of dollars from large PAC and special interest groups controlling my campaign or my voting,” she said. “I will rely heavily on the constituents’ support to make this work. They are the voice of who I want to represent.”

Franke said her goals are to renew the core values of the district as her campaign engages local residents and listens carefully to their ideas and learn about concerns needing more understanding.

She said her initial effort will not be a traditional campaign.

After spending months talking with local, state and national leaders regarding tax reform, education and other critical issues, Franke said, she is entering a more intense period of consideration of a potential candidacy and has assembled a local campaign team.

She cannot file a declaration of candidacy with the secretary of state for the District 69 seat until after 8 a.m. Jan. 6.

“By then, I hope to know if I have enough support from District 69 to make a go of it,” the 47-year-old said.

For the next several months, Franke said, she will significantly increase her events and meetings while looking to make a final determination on a candidacy well in advance of the May primary.

“I have spent almost 20 years in Jackson County,” Franke said. “My husband, Tom, and I have raised our family and served our community here. I love where God has placed me and our family, and I would welcome the opportunity to continue serving in a new capacity.

“I have several ideas which I am quite passionate about, but I do not have all the answers,” she said. “I want to hear what is on the minds and hearts of our constituents and to truly represent the will of the voters in District 69.”

Franke said that, through this process, she hopes to determine whether the people in the district are more interested in a candidate for state representative who is a concerned citizen rather than a career politician.

“I intend to provide an alternative to the political status quo by avoiding funds from special interest groups and large PAC donors,” she said. “Our district needs a person who genuinely relates to their constituents and represents their needs and concerns — not one who represents Indianapolis and special interest groups. I have a passion serving in the best interest of people as well as a solid track record for getting results.”

Franke’s exploratory campaign chairman, Jeremy Helmsing, said he believes the people of District 69 deserve locally focused common sense political options moving forward.

“As of late, many of the decisions being made on behalf of District 69 represent large-scale Indiana politics instead of local constituent feedback,” he said. “As a result, local issues and opinions have been largely ignored.”

Lucas said the legislature has been teacher-friendly, recently passing the Freedom to Teach Bill.

“Education still receives over half of the state budget and 40 percent of our property tax dollars,” he said.