District 69 constituents deserve better

By Nancy Franke

There’s no apology here! Nor, should there be one if our state representative does not sincerely believe he should. It would be meaningless and not true to his words and actions. And, this is the problem.

No one can judge Representative Jim Lucas’ heart, but his public actions are most certainly up for scrutiny. When you hold public office, you are held to a higher standard. It’s the same for those in education, law enforcement, and other positions of authority. If any of these professionals continued to do what Jim Lucas has been doing, they would have lost their position a long time ago.

It’s not a surprise. The news which made headlines not just across our state, but across the country was simply amplifying a pattern of behavior characteristic of the person who sits in the Indiana State Representative District 69’s seat at the State House.

It’s not just a picture. The latest action on the part of Jim Lucas is that he did not just take a circulated picture of third-world children dancing on a dirt road, but that he posted a phrase to the picture which most certainly had racist undertones. That combination clearly made it a racist meme.

It’s not just a one-time slip. The latest posting by Jim Lucas follows a pattern of postings over the years which are misogynistic or racist in nature. He continues to go through the “post a meme to stir controversy- takedown his page when it hits the fan — repeat” cycle time and again. His constituents believe he would learn a lesson from his gaffes, yet he demonstrates his ignorance over and over.

It’s not unreasonable. The Speaker of the House had to do more than just a slap on the hand. Removing said representative from two committees and demotion of vice-chair of a third committee was justified. In fact, some…no, many, would say it was a cushioned set of sanctions.

It’s not reflective of District 69. Or, is it? Lucas said he owns this. Yet, as our representative, those outside our district see Jim as a reflection of who we are. I was absolutely appalled to read comments following the local newspaper articles and the screenshots of comments derived from Jim Lucas’ personal page who not just supported Jim Lucas, but also shared their own derogatory opinions and racial bias — some comments even revealing their own belief in white supremacy. Within a few days, vocal advocates of Jim Lucas directed the rest of us to just sweep this under the rug (once, again), justify his arrogance, and encourage him to continue his derogatory actions in the name of political bullying instead of the irrational embarrassment it really is.

It’s not a secret. I’ve always felt we deserved better when it comes to representation at the State House. Not only do the constituents of our district deserve better when it comes to the values we stand strongly behind, but our Republican party also deserves someone who reflects those values in a manner that is professional, respectful, and has sincere integrity behind those words and actions.

Martin Luther King, Jr. captured it best in a phrase which is engraved on the north wall of the Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial in Washington D.C. “The ultimate measure of a person is not where one stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where one stands in times of challenge and controversy.” He shared these words in 1963, challenging citizens who found themselves in a place of complacency. And, now, almost 60 years later, we find ourselves in the same complacent position. Do we sit back within our safe bubble, afraid of challenging the hearts and minds of each other? Are we more concerned with doing what is politically popular with the mindset of the ignorant few from our district or are we going to be more concerned with doing what is morally and conscientiously right?

Nancy Franke is a Seymour resident and former Republican candidate for the state District 69 seat. Send comments to [email protected].