Indiana residents are strongly encouraged to vote in the primary election on May 8 so that they will be satisfied with their options in November.
“The primary gives you a voice in the process,” Byron Ratcliffe of the Greater Indianapolis Branch of the NAACP said. “If you don’t vote in the primary, then you don’t get to choose who runs in the general election.”
Indianapolis residents can vote early at the Marion County Clerk’s Office inside the City-County Building downtown. They can also vote by mail.
Most local offices have no contest this primary. However, there are a few competitive races on the ballot.
Republicans will nominate businessman Mike Braun, Congressman Luke Messer or Congressman Todd Rokita to take on Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly in November. The campaign could help determine which party will win control of the U.S. Senate this year.
Five Democrats and six Republicans are running for their party’s nomination in the 7th Congressional District, which covers most of Indianapolis.
Local Democrats have competitive races in Center Township, located in the heart of Indianapolis. Incumbent Constable Mark “Tony” Duncan has a vigorous challenge from Denise Paul Hatch, and Trustee Eugene Akers faces Kris Owens.
Democrat André Carson has represented the 7th Congressional District since 2008, when he succeeded his grandmother, Julia Carson.
The Congressman said he is motivated by the belief that anyone who works hard should be able to raise a family, retire with security and build a better life for their children.
“Unfortunately, this is not the reality for most Hoosiers,” Carson said. “Which is why if re-elected, I will continue to fight for hard-working Hoosiers by combating income inequality, strengthening the middle class and protecting those who have fallen on difficult times.”
Carson said he is proud to offerbi-weekly meetings with constituents, and he responds to thousands of residents’ letters. He also helped secure hundreds of millions of dollars for transit, education, renewable energyand medical research to help create jobs and rebuild neighborhoods.
He touted the success of his annual job fair and the annual Youth Opportunities Fair, which connects youth with internships, summer jobs, and volunteer opportunities. Carson is also happy with the recent passage of his bill designating Martin Luther King Park as a National Commemorative Site.
Carson usually receives more than 80 percent of the vote during the Democratic primary in a city where that party controls most political offices. However, he is taking nothing for granted.
Four other candidates are also running for the Democratic nomination, including Curtis Godfrey, Bob Kern, Pierre Pullins and Sue Spicer. They all believe a decade is enough for Carson and are calling for fresh solutions to old problems.
Godfrey is making his third run in the 7th District. His goal is to help restore “direction and integrity” in federal government, and he believes in term limits.
“Congress should not be a long-term retirement plan,” he said. “An elected official should be a servant of the people.”
A U.S. Army veteran, Godfrey is also passionate about improving medical care and services for his fellow veterans after seeing one of them wait decades for compensation.
Kern won the hotly contested Democratic primary in the 6th Congressional District in 1998, before losing to Republican Dan Burton. After 20 years, he has not given up on his dream of making a difference in Congress.
“The constituents must have a voice,” Kern said. “I am ready to listen to the people, do what the people want and stand up for them.”
Pullins is making his seventh run for Congress, and could not be reached by press time.
Spicer worked in the national office of presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, who won the Indiana Democratic primary in 2016. She is running to represent the Vermont senator’s progressive ideas on health care and addressing shortages of quality food in certain areas.
“I didn’t see anybody else with the Sanders branding,” Spicer said.
She would like to stay connected to residents of the district by holding at least two town hall meetings each year and interacting with citizens via Skype when she is in Washington.
“Instead of calling corporate donors in the afternoon, I will have constituent access time,” Spicer said. “We have to get money out of politics.”
Challenge from the right
The current 7th District has not sent a Republican to Congress since 1972. Still, several candidates will slug it out on the ballot for the GOP nomination. They include John Couch, J. Jason Davis, Donald Eason, Jr, Wayne Harmon, J.D. Miniear and Tony Van Pelt.
Couch previously ran for the Indiana House in District 92. He is concerned about the ugly tone in politics and wants to present legislation that can benefit all sectors of society.
“Citizens, businesses and government are all important,” Couch said in a statement.
Davis, a corporate fire and safety specialist, wants to promote faith-based and vocational solutions to community problems.
“Education is our most critical issue, because it shapes our culture,” Davis said.
Eason could become the first African-American Republican to run in the district since Marvin Scott in 2010. He has worked as an administrator at Hillsdale College, Hillsdale, Michigan, and operated inner-city outreach ministries as an associate minister at Fall Creek Parkway Church of Christ.
“Economic growth, improving education and promoting healthy families will take care of many of the issues we face — including rising crime rates, rising unemployment and declining graduation rates,” Eason said.
Harmon, a parole agent and Marine combat veteran, is making his fourth bid for Congress. His top issues of concern are national security, improving veteran services and balancing the federal budget.
“We need to reduce everyone’s tax rate and give the citizens back their buying power for this economy,” Harmon said.
Miniear, a financial advisor and conservative radio show host, is also making his fourth run in the 7th District. He describes himself as “pro economic growth and constitutional,” and a “Christian conservative defender of freedom.”
Van Pelt’s platform calls for defense of the Bill of Rights, a return to gold backing U.S. currency, vocational programs for ex-prisoners and citizen defense training courses. He wants the removal of Carson and “Islamic extremists” from Congress.
Contact Brandon Perry at (317) 924-5143 ext. 308. Follow him on Twitter @BrandonPerry117.
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