Whitcomb announces candidacy for District 69 seat


A Seymour woman with a lengthy background in politics plans to kick off her campaign for the Indiana House District 69 seat presently held by Seymour Republican Jim Lucas with a party Thursday in downtown Seymour.

The event planned by Democrat Trish Whitcomb will be from 5:30 to 7 p.m. in the city park with the John Mellencamp mural at Second Street and Indianapolis Avenue. It will feature live music, a food truck, opportunities for people to register to vote and speeches — of course.

Whitcomb’s announcement sets up the first contest for the Nov. 5, 2024, general election.

Lucas, who was first elected to the Indiana House in 2013, said Whitcomb’s announcement means the voters of the district are now going to have a clear choice when it comes to selecting their District 69 representative.

“I look forward to running again,” he said Friday.

Democrats, Republicans and independents are all invited, Whitcomb said.

“Because if you’re elected, you serve everyone, even those who don’t vote,” she said.

District 69 includes the central and eastern half of Jackson County and parts of Bartholomew, Jennings, Scott and Washington counties.

Whitcomb, the daughter of former Indiana Gov. Edgar D. Whitcomb and Pat Whitcomb, has been involved in dozens of political campaigns around the state over the years. In 2012, she was the campaign manager for Glenda Ritz’s successful run for Indiana state superintendent of schools.

The 70-year-old said one of her main priorities is working with local elected officials, people from the agriculture community and nonprofits from throughout the district to see what can be accomplished by working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development and the state Office of Rural and Community Affairs.

“I want to make sure that we are very actively seeking the cooperation and getting grants and those types of things to make these communities essential to retaining our way of life and keeping our population strong and thriving,” she said.

She said it is possible to do that in a way to make those communities attractive for young people because they want different things.

“Every generation wants different things, and we have to start listening to what they want so they will stay here,” Whitcomb said.

Attracting young people to the area or getting them to return here after finishing their postsecondary education also is important to allowing people to age in place in the community, she said.

Whitcomb said it is very difficult in this area to find someone willing to come in and provide home health care.

“If we want to have a dignified life for our senior citizens, then we need young people who are well educated and compassionate and want to stay here and know they are a vital part of our community,” she said.

Whitcomb, who graduated from Seymour High School in 1971, earned a degree in education from Butler University and spent her career focused on education, politics and finance. She is the former executive director of the Indiana Retired Teachers Association and is the former president of the Indiana Federation of Democratic Women.

There’s no secret where Whitcomb picked up her interest in politics since her dad was the state’s leader from 1969 to 1973. He was born and raised in Hayden but lived in Seymour for 27 years before moving away in 1986. He died Feb. 4, 2016, at his home in Rome.

Whitcomb said she learned a lot from her father, who was a member of the Republican Party, from the standpoint of the value of public service.

“That’s No. 1, and then the value of one’s word — integrity — and I also have heard my share of war stories from behind the scenes of politics, which are fun,” she said. “They make it interesting. One of the main things about Dad that I hope I have in my character is to be accessible and nonjudgmental.

“Dad would meet with anybody,” she said. “He would listen to anybody. I don’t remember Dad ever calling anybody a name. That’s how I like to do it.”

Whitcomb said she plans on running a clean campaign.

“I’m going to be focused on listening to people, and I am going to be focused on policies that can help our area,” she said. “I don’t have time for name-calling or slinging mud. I don’t need to do that.”

Whitcomb said she also would like to concentrate on increasing the voter turnout for elections and getting more people on the ballot for each election.

“It’s a vicious circle,” she said of the declining voter turnout and the lack of candidates on the ballot.

“People don’t want to run because they don’t want to have to do the work, and people see there is nobody stepping up, so why should they vote for even the people who do,” she said.

She said people don’t feel like they have a voice.

Whitcomb said she remembers working with the campaign of Democrat Birch Bayh back in 1980 when he was elected to the U.S. Senate.

“His first election, he won by literally one vote per percent, and I am going to remind people of that,” she said. “You might not think your one vote is important, but it is.”

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