Vallonia man serves as intern at Indiana Senate


Colton Fleetwood has a passion for service.

Throughout his life, the Vallonia resident has committed himself to various leadership positions, including one with the Brownstown Central High School FFA. He also is secretary of the National Muzzle Loading Rifle Association.

Fleetwood’s latest leadership role will have a lasting impact, he said.

“I was truly honored to serve,” the 22-year-old said of wrapping up an internship with the Indiana Senate Republican caucus for the 2018 legislative session.

He served District 36 Sen. Jack Sandlin and District 49 Sen. Jim Tomes.

He also had the opportunity to serve as an intern through former Sen. Brent Steele. Fleetwood has known Steele for a long time through their work in the National Muzzle Loading Rifle Association.

“I had an interest anyway, but he gave me good insights and wrote me a letter of recommendation,” he said.

Fleetwood applied and went through the interview process and ended up being selected.

He spent days handling the senators’ schedules, constituent services and conducted legislative research.

Fleetwood said interns typically are not used to give opinions on legislation, but both the senators he served valued his input and asked for it.

“I wouldn’t say they considered me an adviser, but they asked for my input from time to time where I could help,” he said. “I felt fortunate that my senators respected me enough to want to know what my opinions were.”

One of the bills he conducted research for and was asked for input on was Senate Bill 52, which essentially legalized CBD oil. Tomes authored the bill, which became law when Gov. Eric Holcomb signed it March 21.

Helping with the process and seeing it become law was something that will stick with him, he said.

“It was great for me to see that bill through the process and see it become law,” he said. “I’m always going to be able to take that experience with me.”

The use of CBD oil is something Fleetwood is passionate about because he feels it can help a lot of people.

“While I don’t think it’s the end all, be all for aliments, I think it can help a lot of people,” he said. “The research we did showed there weren’t any bad side effects.”

An interesting dynamic of that particular bill was that while Tomes authored it, Sandlin opposed it and didn’t vote for it.

One may expect that might create an unusual work environment, but Fleetwood said Sandlin always respected his opinion.

“There was never a situation where he wasn’t listening to me or treated me any differently just because I had a different view,” he said. “It was interesting to see each of their perspectives. One isn’t more valid than the other.”

He said that’s a lesson many may learn from in the future, particularly younger people, who will begin to be the largest voting block and are future leaders.

He hopes his generation will be watchful of politicians but be more civil in discussions of issues. If that were to happen, Fleetwood thinks that would encourage more people to run, ensuring the best, most talented candidates.

“I think we’d get a lot more and better candidates to run,” he said.

Interning is one way for people to get involved, and Fleetwood encouraged anyone to apply by contacting their local representatives.

“It’s one of the best internship experiences people can have,” he said. “Politicians get a bad reputation, but some of these people work hard, travel a lot and make sacrifices to serve, and people tend to point fingers and assign blame.”

While his internship has wrapped up, it may not be the last time Fleetwood serves at the Statehouse in the state’s capital.

“That’s always been a plan of mine because I love service,” he said.

He is applying to law school and hopes to get a law degree and work in agriculture law or private practice.

“I hope to do something in public service, and hopefully, elected office,” Fleetwood said.

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