Seven Questions for eight candidates (those who responded) | Indiana

Early voting has already started in Indiana. You may have already spent hours waiting in line to exercise your right to the franchise. While according to multiple sources, most people have already made up their minds about their ballots, we nevertheless hope that this Q&A with candidates will be useful for you, or at least make for interesting reading.

We’ve submitted seven questions to gubernatorial candidates including incumbent Republican Eric Holcomb, Democrat Woody Myers, and Libertarian candidate Donald Rainwater, none of whom responded. We’ve also submitted the questions to candidates for U.S. Congress statewide, and for candidates running for positions in the Indiana Senate and the Indiana House of Representatives in the Indiana Statehouse. However, we’ve sent the questions to the Indiana General Assembly candidates for Marion County districts only rather than the whole state. (Our rationale for this is, quite simply, that we’re a tiny publication with a tiny staff, and there’s a limit to what we can do.) 

Eight candidates so far have responded to this call; Thomas Ferkinhoff is the Libertarian candidate for U.S. House of Representatives, 6th district; James Rodenberger is the Libertarian candidate for U.S. House of Representatives, 8th district; Ken Tucker is the Libertarian candidate for U.S. House of Representatives, 5th district; Sen. Jean Breaux is the Democrat seeking reelection to the Indiana Senate, district 34;  Belinda Drake is the Democratic candidate for Indiana State Senate district 32; Ashley Eason is the Democratic candidate for Indiana Senate District 36; Rep. Justin Moed is Democratic member of the Indiana House of Representatives, district 97, seeking reelection; Ryan Royer is the Republican candidate for member of the Indiana House of Representatives, district 87.

We are somewhat disappointed that more candidates haven’t answered our questions, but we will publish any late arrivals up until election day. We sincerely thank those who responded for taking the opportunity to communicate directly to voters, and we strongly encourage you to vote!

Candidate Questions:

Thomas Ferkinhoff is the Libertarian candidate for U.S. House of Representatives, 6th District.

1) Do we need to achieve better educational results for all our citizens? If yes, how and why? 

I think that many people receive an excellent education but we all benefit when education is improved. I think the number one thing that we can do is to remove the federal government from being involved in the education process and return control of our schools to our local school boards and control of the classroom to our teachers. We have some amazing teachers that can be very creative in finding effective ways to prepare students for a productive career and a more fulfilling life if they are not constrained by the rules imposed by bureaucrats.  

2) Do you think Indianapolis has sufficient voting safeguards as well as ballot access?

My district is composed of 19 counties, so there is a lot of ground to cover but Indianapolis is not a part of my district, so this is not an issue that I have had any reason to look into.

3) Should we prepare for the impact of climate change? If so, how?

Obviously, climates have always changed and there are a lot of things that impact that. I think that our government has done a lot to promote a cleaner environment and to promote responsible living.  It is now up to us to live as responsible citizens. We are a very consumerist society and to the extent that we are obsessed with buying as much stuff at the cheapest price regardless of where it is manufactured and how much pollution is created has a major impact on the environment in other countries. It is up to the individual consumer to become more educated in their purchases.

4) Does the justice system provide equal justice for all? If not, how would you improve it?

A justice system as large as ours is always going to have some flaws and some who are overlooked. The number one thing we can do is to stop making so many things illegal and stop locking so many people away for non-violent crimes.

5) What information would guide your decision making regarding COVID-19 and how would this impact individuals and businesses? 

I would look at what has worked in containing viruses in the past and what is working in other countries.  This has to be balanced with ensuring that the freedoms that we are all guaranteed in this country are not infringed.  Our government needs to do a better job of getting facts out to people without being alarmists.

6) Do you think inequality is an issue? Is so, how would you reduce it?

Equality is an issue, and from a government standpoint, we need to continue to look for those barriers to equality that government has instituted and remove them.  The school to prison path is a real problem for many minority men and that is a circular pattern that needs to be attacked at many places around the circle.  Some of that involves people taking responsibility for their own lives.  I also believe that the illegal drug trade is the source of a lot of the violence that disproportionately affects communities of color. and we need to find a way to end the war on drugs and combat drug use from a social perspective and not a criminal perspective.

7) Do you think our social safety net for housing, food, and medicine is sufficient and properly organized and executed and if not, how would you change it?

I think one of the issues that we have is that in a lot of our programs, we have removed the social workers from the equation.  For able-bodied people, there should be a time period that they qualify for benefits with the benefits gradually decreasing until eliminated.  During that time period people should be given help to develop a plan to become self-sufficient.

James Rodenberger is the Libertarian candidate for U.S. House of Representatives, 8th District  

1) Do we need to achieve better educational results for all our citizens? If yes, how and why?

Education is incredibly important. Unfortunately, in this country, we are failing our children. I would definitely like to see school leadership continue at the local level. What we need to do is streamline our education system. We need more job-ready vocational training. We need to partner with businesses and trade groups to create Apprenticeship programs. This country has millions of jobs to fill but not the skilled workers to do them. We’ve focused too much on the college path for students. College isn’t right for everyone. Those who choose not to go are at a disadvantage. We aren’t preparing these students for success. This is why we need more  Career oriented solutions for those students.

2) Do you think Indianapolis has sufficient voting safeguards as well as ballot access?

Absolutely not.

3) Should we prepare for the impact of climate change? If so, how?

We should. I think we need to quit picking winners and losers. The free market will allow us to move forward better then government mandates. This also means the government shouldn’t force power companies to buy coal-powered electricity. We was headed to a natural gas and renewable power grid until the government stepped in. Once again the government is picking winners and losers.

4) Does the justice system provide equal justice for all? If not, how would you improve it?

It doesn’t. We need to decriminalize drug possession and use. We can’t solve the opioid problem by locking up users. Also, the war on drugs has disproportionately affected black and brown communities. We are ruining the lives of our people unnecessary.

We also need comprehensive law enforcement reforms. Body cams, dashboard cams are just a small start. We need to work on training de-escalation. We also need officers to reflect the community and live in the community.

5) What information would guide your decision making regarding COVID-19 and how would this impact individuals and businesses? 

I would recommend social distancing and wearing a mask. Although, I don’t think we should force it on anyone. Every person and business should decide how they will respond.

6) Do you think inequality is an issue? Is so, how would you reduce it?

Yes it is. The deck has been stacked against Black and brown communities for as long as we’ve been a country. We need to quit locking people up and let people earn a living the best way the can. We need to stop zoning people out of housing and the ability to run and operate a business. 

7) Do you think our social safety net for housing, food, and medicine is sufficient and properly organized and executed and if not, how would you change it?

The government is the most inefficient way to do anything. Private groups know what their community needs and the best way to serve them. 

Ken Tucker is the Libertarian candidate for U.S. House of Representatives, 5th District.

 1) Do we need to achieve better educational results for all our citizens? If yes, how and why? 

Yes, we need to achieve and demand better educational results for our citizens.

Education has always been the great equalizer in any society. Our education system is and has been broken, or at least at risk, my entire life.  

First it begins with time. I want to end all standardized testing of all public school students. It’s a complete waste of class time and our tax dollars. Next, it is about money. I propose legalizing marijuana and funding public education programs. As a society, we need to do a better job preparing all our citizens for success as adults. 

2) Do you think Indianapolis has sufficient voting safeguards as well as ballot access?

No, I do not believe Indianapolis or the State of Indiana has sufficient voting safeguards or adequate ballot access. To deny anyone the right to vote by mail during a pandemic is not sufficient. To attempt to purge voting rolls is not sufficient. Speaking from the position of a third party candidate, ballot access is a problem nationwide. 

3) Should we prepare for the impact of climate change? If so, how?

YES! 

In all reality we should have been doing a much better job of this my entire life. But, as my grandfather would say, “Da Nile isn’t just a river in Egypt”.

I believe in climate change. 

I believe we should be investing in renewable energy to help combat the amount of pollutants we are pumping into our air, soil, and water (period). I want Indiana to be a leader in wind cultivation, solar energy and at the forefront of new agricultural, industrial, and distribution markets in these areas. 

4) Does the justice system provide equal justice for all? If not, how would you improve it.

I know the justice system is not equitable.

First, I would legalize all marijuana. Then, I would recommend releasing anyone convicted of a simple possession charge be released from prison. I would also like to formally expunge any former marijuana possession convictions on permanent records. 

Our criminal justice system needs to be rethought not defunded. We as a society need to do more for those suffering from mental health issues before incarcerating them, and we need to do a better job of providing services to those already in the prison system for mental health issues. 

5) What information would guide your decision making regarding COVID-19 and how would this impact individuals and businesses? 

I would listen to our medical professionals as it pertains to science. I would listen to our business leaders as it pertains to commerce. This pandemic has laid bare many ills in our society. It has also been a real-time lesson in civics as it pertains to government control over business. 

6) Do you think inequality is an issue? Is so, how would you reduce it?

I know inequality is an issue because people in this country are not treated equally or fairly by our national, state, and local governments. I would work tirelessly to ensure equality and liberty for all. No government should discriminate against any one person on grounds of gender, race, religion, political beliefs or sexual orientation. 

7) Do you think our social safety net for housing, food, and medicine is sufficient and properly organized and executed and if not, how would you change it?

I think we are doing great things with some of the safety nets put into place to help those in need. However, I see homeless people in the streets of all our metropolitan areas. I know people who go without medicine because they can’t afford it. I know people are evicted from their homes for a variety of reasons and we can’t be ok with that. 

We need to expect more from our public and private sectors to ensure no citizen goes without needed medication, loses shelter, or otherwise becomes a complete drain on any system.

As far as a fix, I’ve tried talking with people that are in a position to help all of US but they never get back to me. So, if you elect me I’ll let you know what I find out about all these topics and more.

Sen. Jean Breaux is a Democrat from the 34th district, seeking reelection to the Indiana Senate 

1) Do we need to achieve better educational results for all our citizens? If yes, how and why?

Yes.  Transparent and equitable funding, with an emphasis on public education funding.   

Funding needs to have a poverty quotient that allows each school district additional resources for poverty factors built into the formula that is based on poverty in the district and does not require schools to apply or verify each student individually.  

Education is the great equalizer. Education is the means to bridge economic gaps, it has the potential to curb many societal ills experienced by communities both rural and urban and is a means to wealth accumulation.  

2) Do you think Indianapolis has sufficient voting safeguards as well as ballot access?

There can never be enough safeguards, so no.  We could use more protection safeguards.  And definitely NO, we need more ballot access in the form of more early voting centers and we need absentee voting with no barriers and extension of voting hours to seven p.m. to accommodate working men and women.

3) Should we prepare for the impact of climate change? If so, how?   

Indiana needs to adopt a more progressive agenda regarding fossil fuel reliance, an environment that promotes the new energy technology by providing incentives and a welcoming environment and create more programs that provide property owners, both residential and commercial who might want to implement energy-efficient and more environmentally friendly technologies.  Improve our recyclable footprint – collection and repurpose.

4) Does the justice system provide equal justice for all? If not, how would you improve it.

NO.  The system is built upon a flawed premise and should be completely revamped particularly as it relates to policing.  There needs to be equity when addressing juvenile justice and school discipline, there needs to be equitable justice opportunities for the poor that equals that available to more wealthier individuals.  

5) What information would guide your decision making regarding COVID-19 and how would this impact individuals and businesses? 

There needs to be a spotlight on the disparities revealed by COVID.  SCIENCE, SCIENCE, SCIENCE.  FACTS, FACTS, FACTS and then focus resources so that businesses and families can live and operate safely and financially successfully.

 6) Do you think inequality is an issue? Is so, how would you reduce it?

Absolutely!  They say money is the root of all evil.  I say inequality is the root.  Inequality affects mental health, access to opportunities, wealth acquisition and on and on.  You reduce it by focusing on inherent and implicit bias we all have and keep it a focus.  Make sure folks know the impact inequality has on the lives of men, women, children and families.

 7) Do you think our social safety net for housing, food, and medicine is sufficient and properly organized and executed and if not, how would you change it? 

NO.  And COVID is exposing even more holes in the safety nets.  I would change by a shifting of priorities and dollars.  We need to ensure as a state that we have a healthy workforce, safe homes, especially those currently homeless, access to quality healthcare with no barriers to access and healthy foods available no matter your zip code and incentivize investment in areas considered less prime – as a state we need to be more concerned with these issues and commit to prioritizing funding and focus rather than having huge reserves.

Belinda Drake is the Democratic candidate for Indiana State Senate District 32

1) Do we need to achieve better educational results for all our citizens? If yes, how and why?

The only constant is that educational standards never stay the same. People never cease to amaze me in their capacity to learn more, challenge standards and expectations, and to innovate current ways of thinking. 

It is essential to not only change educational expectations appropriately with the times, but also to change how we provide education as a result. 

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During COVID we’ve learned that we can be quite creative with education, and we’ve seen many schools transition to e-learning environments. Many never thought we would make such a wide scaled change in such a short time, but necessity often is the mother of invention. 

Things will never go back to the way they were before and that is especially so with education. We’ve seen that education can be provided anytime and anywhere. The only limitation is our ability to keep pace with the changes in a meaningful way. 

2) Do you think Indianapolis has sufficient voting safeguards as well as ballot access?

Neither voting safeguards nor access to the ballot can be summed up by the dichotomy of “sufficient” or “not sufficient” like they are merely items on a checklist. Our understanding of voting safeguards and ballot access are changing rapidly, but one thing remains certain: if we are to live in a free country, then EVERYONE’S vote and voice must count. 

The fact is that Indiana’s strict photo identification requirement laws put our state in an unnecessarily complicated and rigid minority nationally. We are one of only seven states nationally with such draconian and outdated measures and the state legislature has the ability to solve this problem.

I believe that Hoosiers pride ourselves on civic and community participation and that most Americans believe our country would be best served by including more Americans in the democratic process. Yet in my district in 2016, only 56% of registered voters cast their ballot; barely half. Almost twice as many were eligible to vote yet they did not register to vote. So, the election was decided by about ¼ of adults living in the district, which means roughly 1/8 of the people voted for my opponent. Clearly, voter participation rates lag especially for voters my age and younger and that has been one thing that I have focused on during my campaign. We know that when more people are engaged and voting, our communities are better served.

The voices and civic engagement of people in my generation and my communities matter. It is time to center our actions in our values and work to engage more Hoosiers in the democratic process. 

3) Should we prepare for the impact of climate change? If so, how?

If this question were asked 20-30 years ago, I could’ve then given a clear answer of “yes”. But, now that we are already in the midst of climate change as a global emergency, everything we do is simply a response to the current climate crisis situation, not preparation for a potentially avoidable climate change problem.

In Indiana, we have to focus on a climate-smart transition in all of our major sectors, including agriculture, manufacturing, and geologistics. We must center on climate centered innovation as an opportunity for a just transition to equitable communities and economies. Additionally, we must address extreme weather emergencies, like wildfires, droughts, and floods so that all communities can thrive. 

4) Does the justice system provide equal justice for all? If not, how would you improve it.

While these words are written above the steps to the Supreme Court of the United States and are typically considered an American high ideal, the stark reality of what many find happening inside of courtrooms across the country doesn’t exemplify either equality or justice. 

The United States is a country where there are so many attorneys per capita, we out pace every other country in the world. Yet, most Americans can’t afford even basic legal services and this disparity results in unequal access to the justice system, especially compared to the wealthiest living in America.

In 1956, then Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black wrote in the Gideon v. Wainwright decision regarding access to public defenders, “There can be no equal justice where the kind of trial a man gets depends on the amount of money he has.”

However, while his sentiments about poverty are accurate, I don’t fundamentally agree with Justice Black because under his opinion the equal justice problem would be solved by reducing a (falsely) perceived shortage of attorneys available to a large number of defendants. He is basically saying that the ‘lawyer supply’ doesn’t meet the ‘defendant demand’ but his shortcoming is that he only looks at one side of the equation in the criminal justice system. Clearly, the United States has an overwhelming abundance of attorneys already. What I believe is essential and often overlooked in our living up to this American high ideal of equal justice is a drastic reduction in the base number of cases being adjudicated by:

• Legalization of marijuana

• Decriminalization of minor offenses, and

• A just transition to a human-centered behavioral and mental health model that reduces recidivism in the criminal justice system.

5) What information would guide your decision making regarding COVID-19 and how would this impact individuals and businesses? 

I would listen to and consider what scientists and epidemiologists have to say about the health and wellness of people including what the most recent scientific research is showing.  As a social worker and essential worker, I’d look at that information and seek to create and align policy that improves the lived experience of the people. 

What good is it if the economy appears to be booming by certain measures, but the people can’t afford to take care of the basics and essentials because they aren’t making a living wage and can’t afford to live?

We’ve watched mega-corporations receive CARES act benefits, tax incentives, and custom loans while main street and innovative Hoosier owned and operated businesses have struggled to survive, and many have gone out of business. 

That is not how this is supposed to work. Our elected leaders need to do their job and LEAD. There is no excuse why the state legislature has not met since the beginning of the year; if ever there was an emergency or rainy day, it has been this past year. 

Hoosier workers can’t shirk their responsibilities right now. I don’t see why we’ve allowed the state legislature to do so.

6) Do you think inequality is an issue? Is so, how would you reduce it?

As a social worker and especially over the past year that I’ve been a candidate for the statehouse, I’ve met so many people in the community with so many different lived experiences. With COVID-19, life has only exacerbated existing problems that most of us regular working class folks live with each and every day. Inequality continues to be an issue for many Hoosiers and people in my district. 

One of the most horrifying situations of structural inequality this past year, has been the situation inside nursing homes and senior health communities. Black and brown Hoosiers and women have been disproportionately ‘carrying the load’ as essential workers during the COVID-19 crisis while at the same time disproportionately living with the negative outcomes of COVID-19 as an illness. All the while, we make pennies on the dollar compared to men for equal work.

The Indy Star’s recent investigation series has shown a bright light on the disparity in Indiana between care received and funding received in the Medicare program. We’ve watched countless politicians and elected leaders on both sides of the aisle take advantage of the situation for their own personal gain and at the expense of our most needy and vulnerable. 

Women and especially women of color, experience great impacts at the hands of this broken political system. Especially women who are “sandwiched” into parenting responsibilities for their own children/young families while also caretaking their aging parents. We are the ones going to work everyday as an essential worker, whether in grocery stores, community services or schools to food establishments, nursing, or administration, we are working full-time and care-taking for others the rest of the time.

We’ve watched tens of thousands of seniors – our loved ones – in nursing homes get sick and pass away due to the nursing home healthcare and fraud crisis in Indiana and it has resulted in lived trauma for countless numbers of Hoosier families. Hoosier seniors deserve better. All of use deserve better.

The prosecution of those in the American Senior Communities, political nepotism, and fraud case is just scratching the surface on the path to justice and equality. To reduce inequality we must expose the structural and systemic problems that create it and we must take on the political power structures that seek to keep it in place. 

I’m ready and willing to take on deeply entrenched political power structures, regardless of political part or alliance, in Indiana to make a real difference in the lives of Hoosier families and communities. It starts by shining a light on the situation with an eye to justice. Then we must clean house of all those in positions of power in the statehouse and local governing institutions who center their personal power over the quality of life for the people.

7) Do you think our social safety net for housing, food, and medicine is sufficient and properly organized and executed and if not, how would you change it? 

From where I stand, if the social safety net for housing, food, and medicine were sufficient, no one would experience homeless, no one would experience hunger, and no one would experience lack of access to medical care. The social safety net is broken before it even needs to be used. People need to make a living wage for their work so they can afford the basics in life. We must look to a national solution to the current healthcare crisis, including a decoupling of employment and medical insurance. I will work hard as your next State Senator to make these changes and I would work with US Representative Andre Carson to advocate for needed change in Washington DC.

Ashley Eason is the Democratic candidate for Indiana Senate, district 36 

1) Do we need to achieve better educational results for all our citizens? If yes, how and why?

Yes, I believe we need to achieve better educational results for all our citizens, both in our public K-12 schools as well as our post-secondary educational opportunities. 

Indianapolis Public Schools’ graduation rates have continuously improved since 2013, but have plateaued over the past few years and saw a decline in 2018. Superintendent Aleesia Johnson listed recent school location closings as one major contributing factor to these numbers. I’ll work to guarantee public schools receive the resources and support they need to ensure children in all our neighborhoods have a chance to thrive. All children deserve a high-quality education in schools that are safe. I will never turn my back on teachers and students, and that includes fighting for fair teacher pay. 

In 2019, the United Health Foundation reported that 6.6% of Hoosiers were underemployed. As of September, 2020, Indiana’s unemployment rate was at 7.9%. As many of our neighbors are struggling to find new jobs, possibly in new business sectors, we need to provide more support to ensure these community members have access to education and skills training that align with jobs that are readily available. This could mean partnering with more educational institutions to ensure their programs are accessible and affordable, and incentivizing employers to contribute to the skill-building of their own employees. 

2) Do you think Indianapolis has sufficient voting safeguards as well as ballot access? 

I think Indianapolis has improved voting safeguards as well as ballot access since the primary election. Our election boards have made it easier to request absentee ballots online, making the process more efficient and accessible for our constituents. We have also seen a spike in the availability of poll workers, ensuring that our polling locations are well-staffed and open and accessible to our neighbors to vote during early voting as well as election day. Ultimately I believe that giving voters the widest possible set of voting choices (including voting by mail) keeps more voters safe and gives them the freedom to select the voting method that suits them best. 

3) Should we prepare for the impact of climate change? If so, how? 

Our state is already seeing the impact of climate change and we should recognize that and continue to prepare. In Indiana, data shows that we are seeing more intense precipitation patterns per season, currently with a reported 42% increase of intensity of rain in the winter and spring. This can significantly affect community members who experience regular flooding in their homes — incurring property damage costs and dealing with home environmental challenges like mold. We need to ensure our neighbors have access to meaningful resources to assist them in identifying those environmental concerns in the home and fixing those problems. Additional precipitation also affects our rural community members who manage farms. We need to continue to plan for resources that assist farmers who may experience crop losses related to flooding or a delay in planting their crops due to the additional precipitation in the spring. 

Indiana residents are also experiencing higher temperatures year-round. Scientists at Purdue University and Indiana University report that Indiana is currently on track for our climate to be approximately 8 °F warmer daily by 2080. This not only affects farmers, as noted above, but this also impacts families all over the state as we consider what it takes for a Hoosier to cool their home. We need to have more resources to improve energy efficiency for our residents and programs to support families who maynot be able to afford these higher energy bills during our hottest months. 

4) Does the justice system provide equal justice for all? If not, how would you improve it? 

In 2018, the Prison Policy Initiative reported that Indiana had an incarceration rate of 723 people per 100,000 residents. Thisnumber is higher than the national average of 698 and significantly higher than countries around the world who all have a rate lower than 150. They also reported that 34% of Indiana’s prison population is Black while only 9% of our population in Indiana is Black. This statistic alone supports the fact that we have inequalities built into our justice system. 

We can begin to reduce incarceration rates immediately by decriminalizing marijuana across the state of Indiana. According to the Marijuana Policy Project, Indiana is one of only 23 states that still imposes jail time for possession of cannabis and one of only 17 that has refused to consider a medical cannabis law. These laws disproportionately affect people of color—according to the ACLU, African Americans are 3.5 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession as whites. Drafting legislation that decriminalizes cannabis can significantly decrease the rate of incarceration of our Black community members.

We can also consider reducing our recidivism rate of 33.8% by providing more support to the re-entry population to ensure they can meet their probation and parole requirements and have a fighting chance to successfully build a new life. If minority communities are already facing the steep uphill challenges that pervasive discrimination in our society places upon them, unreasonable probation and parole requirements combined with a lack of support services make it almost impossible for these community members to thrive post-incarceration. 

5) What information would guide your decision making regarding COVID-19 and how would this impact individuals and businesses? 

Listening to the advice of national and state public health officials and health data scientists continues to be incredibly important as we make decisions around COVID-19. Our success with decreasing the spread of the pandemic depends largely on the decisions of Hoosier residents to take responsibility for reducing the spread for the virus, and I think we can provide more support with the resources they need to do so. 

Decreasing the spread of COVID-19 starts by providing more PPE to community members and enforcing a public mask mandate to keep our essential workers safe. Testing needs to be free and widely accessible, and coordinated care needs to be affordable and readily available to people of all socioeconomic backgrounds. Offering small businesses relief programs and encouraging our neighbors to focus on supporting those businesses is essential to their survival. 

6) Do you think inequality is an issue? Is so, how would you reduce it? 

Inequality is a pervasive issue in our local community and across the country. All Hoosiers should be able to earn a living, take care of their families, and be full participants in our community without fear of harassment or discrimination. We need legislation that protects all Hoosiers from discrimination, including stronger hate crimes legislation. We also need stronger measures in place to ensure that minority-owned business receive additional support to balance the additional challenges they face from implicit bias and discrimination in our community. 

Societal inequities also connect to the core need for equitable education opportunities for all our neighbors. This includes more funding for our public schools, which typically comprise a large percentage of our minority populations, as well as building more equitable and sustainable opportunities for adults from all backgrounds to learn new skills that make them more valuable to our local employers and elevate their career opportunities. 

7) Do you think our social safety net for housing, food, and medicine is sufficient and properly organized andexecuted and if not, how would you change it? 

In 2018, an estimated 200,000 residents in Indianapolis lived in low-income areas and were further than one mile from a grocery store. Most low-income residents have access to only one vehicle or rely entirely on public transportation, which can drastically impede their ability to have access to fresh and healthy food choices that they can afford. We need to create incentives for small business owners to be able to operate more businesses like grocery stores in these areas. We also need to continue to develop our public transportation system, creating more routes and more frequent stops to ensure our neighbors have more mobility throughout our community. In the meantime, supporting organizations like community gardens and food pantries can assist in supplementing the resources our neighbors have access to. 

Limited access to affordable and healthy food choices can also increase the risk of chronic disease. Because affordable health insurance is typically tied to a resident having an employer with good healthcare benefits, many of our residents avoid the preventative care that could decrease their negative health outcomes for fear of the inability to pay. Most recently, this has been highlighted with many of our neighbors waiting to seek testing and treatment for COVID-19 symptoms, and seeing more drastic negative health outcomes because of that. I would increase the availability of resources provided under the Healthy Indiana Plan and encourage more funding of community-led organizations that provide preventative care and medical support to community members of all income levels. 

When it comes to sustainable housing, I am a strong advocate for providing more long-term transitional housing for our neighbors who need some time saving for a home. I am hopeful for projects like Horizon House’s upcoming Compass development to assist our neighbors in their greatest time of need to ensure they have a fighting chance to get their feet underneath them. Being poor is expensive, and if we can support our low-income families to overcome the additional expense that poverty forces upon us, then I believe we can all thrive together.

Justin Moed is a Democratic member of the Indiana House of Representatives seeking reelection, 97th district

1) Do we need to achieve better educational results for all our citizens? If yes, how and why? 

Yes, we always need to be investing in our future and that means investing in our students, teachers and schools.  In order for our city and state to remain competitive in the global economy we need to be offering first-class education from Pre-K all the way through college or trade school.  

We first need to give our teachers a long overdue pay raise so we can keep top educators in the classroom.  We need to invest more in early education so all students have access and we need to make sure our schools in Indianapolis get their fair share of the state funding formula.  Trade schools and colleges need to be affordable and accessible to students.  It takes a real commitment from our city and state leaders to make this happen and I’m ready to be a partner in supporting a first-class education system.

2) Do you think Indianapolis has sufficient voting safeguards as well as ballot access? 

Our state lags far behind in having pro-voter laws.  From partisan gerrymandering of our legislative and congressional district lines to restricting voting accessibility, we need to do better for our citizens.  

3) Should we prepare for the impact of climate change? If so, how? 

Yes, human impact on our climate is real and we need to take measures to reduce the harmful activities.  That’s why I opposed the efforts to stifle solar panels and the bill aimed at subsidizing the burning of coal at our power plants.  We need to reduce our dependence on outdated energy methods and diversify our energy portfolio.  Instead of punishing people who buy electric or hybrid vehicles with additional taxes, we should incentivize their production and use

4) Does the justice system provide equal justice for all? If not, how would you improve it. 

Our justice system is woefully underfunded and it in turn creates inequalities for those that find themselves in it.  We need to invest in real programming for mental health, drug addiction and job training to help offer those who truly want and opportunity to get it.

5) What information would guide your decision making regarding COVID-19 and how would this impact individuals and businesses? 

We need to listen to scientists to help make decisions based on how we can safely operate businesses and other institutions as normal as possible.  Areas of life that are too risky, we will need to support as a city, state and nation to help them get through the pandemic.

6) Do you think inequality is an issue? Is so, how would you reduce it? 

Yes, especially in terms of pay inequality.  We need a commission to bring business leaders together with community advocates to determine how we can raise wages and benefits for our hourly workers and end the pay gap so many women and minorities face in the workplace. I have consistently supported legislation aimed at reducing these inequalities.

Ryan Royer, is the Republican candidate for member of the Indiana House of Representatives, District 87

1) Do we need to achieve better educational results for all our citizens? If yes, how and why?

Yes, I do believe that we need better educational results for all Hoosiers. I believe that for too long that we have pushed students to go to college, when it was not the right option for them, and incurred thousands of dollars of student debt. They have no degree and nothing to show for the time in college, other than the massive burden of a monthly loan payment. What we need to do is reintroduced and push the industrial arts back into high school curriculums. There are tens of thousands of unfilled skilled and technical roles in Indiana, many of which you can begin out of high school and can begin making $30,000+ per year.  

2) Do you think Indianapolis has sufficient voting safeguards as well as ballot access?

Indiana does have sufficient voting safeguards; however, I feel that the Marion County Election Board’s decision to move us from our traditional precinct voting locations to the new voting centers has decreased ballot access for Marion County residents. Even with the increase in voting centers for the General Election, the overall decrease in voting locations is creating longer lines, higher wait times, increase the potential exposure to COVID-19, and may prohibit people with physical disabilities from being able to vote.

3) Should we prepare for the impact of climate change? If so, how?

As a 33-year-old, climate change is an issue that I have grown up with, and as someone that regularly spends time outdoors, I have witnessed the subtle impacts firsthand. Each person and property owner should begin taking steps to decrease our carbon footprint, continue or begin to recycle, install water catchment systems on their guttering (if possible) to water lawns and gardens, and look into utilizing renewable energy sources if they have the ability to do so.

4) Does the justice system provide equal justice for all? If not, how would you improve it.

While there are numerous issues that I would champion in the legislature, I would push for sweeping criminal justice reform. In fact, this is an issue that is near to my heart and predates the recent protests across the US. If we were to spend less taxpayer money on non-violent offenders and offenses that affect those of lower socio-economic status the most, we can move much needed resources to issues such as mental health, homelessness, and drug addiction.

5) What information would guide your decision making regarding COVID-19 and how would this impact individuals and businesses? 

Regarding making guidelines to COVID-19, I would use the measurements of daily positive tests, ICU bed uses connected to COVID-19, and any serious spikes in certain areas as the three main criteria. Outside of that, we must keep the economy open, while protecting those that are most at risk. We should not quarantine healthy individuals, but allow them to continue to work, if they are taking precautions, and being respectful of others and their personal approach to handling the virus. I do not believe in a criminal punishment for individuals not wearing a mask. 

(NOTE: Royer did not answer questions 6 and 7)

Uni Education by Shark Themes