The League of Women Voters of Brown County recently surveyed the candidates for Indiana House District 65, incumbent Chris May, a Bedford Republican, and Paula Staley, a Democrat from Nashville.
District 65 includes Pershing and Salt Creek townships in Jackson County, all of Brown County and parts of Johnson, Lawrence and Monroe counties.
1. Describe the occupations, education/training and experience that qualify you for this office.
May: I’m your current state representative, small business owner and former three-term county commissioner. A graduate of Bedford North Lawrence High School and Vincennes University, currently working at Whitney Tool as a sales engineer while owning and operating Hoosier Tech Properties. Served on several boards, including the solid waste management district, Dunn Memorial Hospital, Boys and Girls Club, Economic Growth Council, redevelopment commission and also served as chairman of the County Insurance Steering Committee. I was named the 2017 Indiana Assisted Living Association Legislator of the Year. In June 2018, I participated in the 64th annual U.S. Army War College National Security Seminar.
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Staley: Following the first half of my career working in hospitals and medical facilities in Indiana, I found my passion in serving state and federal public health agencies, making a difference in the lives of families by developing environmental and family health policy. Working at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, I developed federal guidance for parts of the Affordable Healthcare Act. The CDC experience gave me public health and policy experience needed in the Statehouse to get us through this COVID-19 pandemic, restore our economy and ensure we are well-prepared for the future.
2. Why are you running for this office?
May: As your representative, I’m motivated by the continued focus on our shared values while passing laws that are good for our citizens, communities and state rather than fighting through partisan talking points and ideology. My experience serving on the local government, judiciary, veterans affairs and public safety and interstate/international committees has provided me with firsthand knowledge of the fundamentals needed to effectively work with the Indiana Legislature. Above all else, I believe in Indiana.
Staley: I am running for office because I see that the current administration has failed us — failed us by prioritizing big-moneyed interests at the expense of our public schools, our health and our environment. Recovering from this pandemic and restoring our economy will require a bottom-up approach, not a top-down (which never works, anyway). That is that the state should prioritize support for workers, families and our public schools. The economy can recover only after we get the pandemic under control. Still today, there is no penalty for not wearing a mask in public in Indiana.
3. What are your top three priorities in state government?
May: Out-of-control spending hinders our economic growth. We must end deficits, reduce our national debt and continue to make smart reforms to our tax code to promote growth and investment in Indiana. Governmental overreach costs Hoosiers good jobs while raising energy bills and operating costs for businesses. We must continue to support efforts to protect businesses from unnecessary costs and regulatory burdens. We must prepare our students and workforce for the demands of 21st century careers and encourage the spirit of innovation that has and will continue to make Indiana great. As our economy continues to grow, we must also focus on workforce development while getting underemployed Hoosiers better careers.
Staley: The critical issue facing Indiana is the failure of the current administration to prevent over 104,000 cases of COVID-19 and over 3,000 deaths. Many of these cases and deaths could have been prevented with early action and contact tracing efforts by adequately funded, prepared state and local public health agencies. Only after the pandemic is under control can we focus on the recovery of the economy. District 65 is in critical need of the state dollars that are currently going into the big-moneyed interests’ pockets — dollars for support of public schools, family farms, health care, internet fiber and communication infrastructure.
4. What are your top priorities for District 65?
May: We must ensure that we continue to foster a business climate that insures economic growth. As a conservative, I’m focused on right-sizing the regulatory burden and finding innovative solutions to real problems. Indiana is leading the nation on a variety of measurements and reforms, but we must drive these successes in jobs and economic growth throughout the rural areas of our state.
Staley: As an underserved rural area, many issues concern voters in District 65. In addition to the primary focus on controlling the pandemic, I would focus on ensuring that District 65 gets its fair share of state funding. Support for public schools, placing a moratorium on vouchers; support for workers by mandating a living wage, pay equity for women, ending right to work, reinstating the common construction wage; supporting families with affordable child care; access to public transportation, availability of affordable health care, increasing numbers of mental health and addiction treatment providers; support for continuation of family farms.