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Saturday, January 16, 2021

2020 General Election Candidate Guide: Part II

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In an effort to make sure our readers are informed this election season, the Recorder sent questionnaires to candidates so voters know where they stand on important issues. 

This week, we have answers from candidates for governor, state Senate and attorney general. Read Part 1 here.

Not all candidates had contact information, and some candidates did not respond. An asterisk (*) denotes the incumbent. 

Many Hoosiers have to vote without a paper trail

More than half of jurisdictions in Indiana have voting equipment that doesn’t include a verified paper trail


Eric Holcomb* (R)

1. What platform are you running on? 

I’m running on my record of building One Indiana for All. Before COVID-19, Indiana was breaking records — for job commitments, for wages, for job training and for infrastructure. And we’re getting back to setting records. We continue to lead an open, transparent, data-driven response to fighting this pandemic, prioritizing the health of Hoosiers while safely reopening our economy.

2. What is an important policy related to social justice you would like to enact?

Building One Indiana for All means working together to overcome racial inequity, supporting lives and livelihoods. That’s why we’re creating Indiana’s first chief equity, inclusion and opportunity officer to improve economic empowerment and opportunity across the state government by removing any hurdles in the government workplace and the services the state provides. I’ve also requested a third-party review of our law enforcement training programs, and committed to working with the general assembly to address other critical issues.

3. How can we decrease the spread of COVID-19 while helping businesses stay afloat?

Hoosiers are taking actions to keep our economy open and drive down our unemployment rate. We launched the Back on Track Plan, a phased, data-driven and safe reopening of Indiana’s economy. As a state, we’ve supported our Hoosier small businesses by establishing the PPE Marketplace so they can return to work in a healthy manner, and created a revolving loan program for communities to assist their small businesses. We must all mask up, physically distance and wash our hands.

4. What else should voters know about you?

I’m committed to building One Indiana for All — that means we continue to cultivate the best environment for all Hoosiers to thrive. It means tackling issues of racial inequity, it means continuing to attract more great jobs, it means helping Hoosiers skill-up for more high-wage jobs. And the best is yet to come.

Dr. Woody Myers (D) — 

Dr. Woody Myers (D)

1. What platform are you running on?

Everyone in Indiana deserves access to quality health care, fully funded public schools that support students and teachers, and jobs that pay well. For sixteen years Republican governors have neglected African American communities. We deserve better. As Governor I will invest in and partner with communities to grow the economy and build generational wealth. I am the only African American, the only doctor, and the only former Health Commissioner running for Governor in the nation. Amid skyrocketing COVID-19 cases, I can put my life experience to work to help the people of Indiana. I couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t try.

2. What is an important policy related to social justice you would like to enact?  

Indiana needs to invest in public health and reform our criminal justice system. We deserve better than our pregnant African American women dying at some of the highest rates in the country and our children sitting in underfunded schools. Our communities deserve to have clean water and air, to have our votes count, and economic opportunity to thrive. Decriminalizing minor possession of marijuana is a must to keep people out of the criminal justice system.

3. How can we decrease the spread of COVID-19 while helping businesses stay afloat?

My opponent is withholding millions of dollars in federal relief funds instead of investing it in our communities now to help stabilize our economy. That money could be used to for grants to small businesses, childcare subsidies for essential workers, and mobile broadband access for students learning at home. I have called for an enforceable mask mandate so that we all protect each other and reduce the spread of this deadly virus.

4. What else should voters know about you?

As an African American doctor, former Indiana Health Commissioner, and small business owner, I spent my career fighting for equity and justice in healthcare and medicine. As Indiana’s first African American governor, and only the third elected Governor in the nation’s history, I will lead us out of this crisis and rebuild our economy.

Donald Rainwater (L) — did not respond

Attorney General

Jonathan Weinzapfel (D)

1. What platform are you running on? 

Hoosier families face unprecedented challenges today, from confronting the pandemic, to racial injustice to an uncertain economic future. As attorney general, I will use the office to help strengthen our economy and communities following this pandemic. I will protect our health care from those who seek to strip it away. And, I will lead the fight to create a more fair and just criminal justice system that respects the humanity in all of us. I will also be a champion for workers’ wages and safety and will go after those that misuse public dollars and commit fraud against vulnerable citizens.  

2. What is an important policy related to social justice you would like to enact? 

I have offered numerous plans, available on my website www.WeinzapfelforAG.com, that address this question. However, protecting access to health care will be a top priority for me. On day one, I will remove Indiana from a partisan lawsuit that seeks to destroy Obamacare and take coverage away from thousands of Hoosier families. I will also tackle criminal justice reform to rebuild the community’s trust and ensure that all citizens are treated fairly and with dignity.  

3. How can we decrease the spread of COVID-19 while helping businesses stay afloat? 

First, we must wear masks and listen to public health experts so we can get this pandemic under control and get back to business. My opponent opposed Gov. Holcomb’s mask order, while, despite being from different political parties, I supported it. As attorney general, I will work to ensure schools, hospitals and nursing homes are being more transparent. I’ll implement my COVID-19 Recovery Plan and will do all I can to support Hoosier-owned businesses.

4. What else should voters know about you? 

In addition to being a practicing attorney and a former chancellor of Ivy Tech, I served as mayor of Evansville from 2004-2011. Under my leadership we created more than 2,000 jobs and were voted the No. 1 city in the country to live, work and play.

Todd Rokita (R) — did not respond

U.S. House of Representatives, District 7

Rep. Andre Carson* (D) — 

1. What platform are you running on?

I’m running to create a more just, equal, and inclusive Indiana and America. For the past four years, the current administration has fanned the flames of intolerance and division, hoping to distract Americans while they do the bidding of the super-rich. This “divide and conquer strategy” has been used to take away our rights and opportunities for centuries, and we can’t let this President and his allies get away with it. I’m running to oppose this deceitful and dangerous agenda, and to stand up for everyday Hoosiers who deserve a voice in Washington. 

2. What is an important policy related to social justice you would like to enact?

One of the biggest pieces of legislation the House has passed this year is the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. I believe this comprehensive bill will dramatically improve our criminal justice system by better holding police accountable for wrongdoing and working to stop implicit bias that has long gone unchallenged. I continue urging my colleagues in the Senate to pass our bill, and I believe a Biden administration will work hard to make it law. 

3. How can we decrease the spread of COVID-19 while helping businesses stay afloat?

We cannot get our economy back on track until we get control of COVID-19. But right now, too many business owners don’t have the resources to reopen safely, and too many workers are being forced to endure unsafe working conditions to pay the bills. We desperately need to pass more COVID-19 relief, so that we can empower businesses to better protect their customers and employees, and so we can invest more in contact tracing, testing, and treatment, which will reduce the spread of the virus. The House did that work by passing the Heroes Act, which provides an extra $2.2 trillion more dollars in relief. Both parties need to come together and pass it immediately. 

4. What else should voters know about you?

 I’m a lifelong Hoosier with a passion for public service, people and great music. I also write a regular column here in the Indy Recorder about my ongoing work in Congress.

Susan Marie Smith (R)

1. What platform are you running on?  

My platform is Indianapolis First. We must retake our position as a model city for the nation. This means we must be the model for safe communities, job creation, and parental choice in education that prepares our children not only for the global economy but for global diplomacy. 

2. What is an important policy related to social justice you would like to enact? 

As an adjunct professor in criminal justice, I teach that we not only need to understand our issues, we must be unstoppable in our work to eliminate such issues. Human trafficking in our nation is becoming just as great of a foul stench as abortions in the Black and brown communities. I would work to enact and support legislation that would give increased funding to the investigation and prosecution of perpetrators and participants at all levels and in all places where human trafficking is found.  

3. How can we decrease the spread of COVID-19 while helping businesses stay afloat?  

We need to get back to work to help our businesses and our state economy. And we need to incentivize safety and protection by providing financial and reputation incentives for workplace design, talent development, and innovation reducing virus risk and increasing safety. It’s imperative that our businesses use Q4 2020 and all of 2021 to enhance responsibility as well as productivity.  

4. What else should voters know about you? 

I am focused, determined, never afraid of the fight for what should be ours. Indianapolis has been stagnant and declining for too long, and we need to see a change in our leadership to put Indianapolis first. Send Mrs. Smith to Washington!

State Senator, District 30

John C. Ruckelshaus* (R) — did not respond

Fady Qaddoura (D) 

1. What platform are you running on? 

I am running to be a champion for our schools and teachers, to expand health care to more Hoosiers, and to build a state that represents all of its citizens. We are facing unprecedented challenges as a state, and I will work with state leaders of both parties to address them. One of my top priorities once I am elected is to immediately pass legislation to ensure our schools are fully funded whether they are operating in-person or virtually and to work to ensure that schools have adequate PPE on hand to reopen safely.

2. What is an important policy related to social justice you would like to enact? 

As an immigrant to this country, I watched as the Trump administration banned immigrants from Muslim-majority countries coming into Indiana and our elected officials were silent. That was a wake-up call for me. The COVID-19 pandemic and the movement for racial justice that erupted following the murder of George Floyd has only increased this urgency. Indiana can make vulnerable communities feel safer by finally passing comprehensive hate crimes legislation and banning police chokeholds. 

3. How can we decrease the spread of COVID-19 while helping businesses stay afloat? 

Something the state of Indiana can do immediately is to reinstate the moratorium on evictions and utility disconnections until the COVID-19 pandemic is over. Letting this moratorium expire just as we enter colder weather and the flu season could literally leave Hoosiers out in the cold. We should also extend the statewide mask mandate to keep each other safe so that businesses can reopen — and stay open — safely. 

4.What else should voters know about you? 

I immigrated to this country at age 19, worked my way through college, and survived homelessness after Hurricane Katrina before relocating to Indianapolis where I earned my Ph.D. from IUPUI. My wife Samar and I are the proud parents of two daughters who are in public schools in our district.

State Senator, District 32

Aaron Freeman* (R) — did not respond

Belinda Drake (D) — 

1. What platform are you running on?

Belinda believes in a better LIFE* for all of us. 

Legalize/decriminalize marijuana, adopt person-centered addiction recovery models for substance use disorders

Provide the services and supports that people need to get better and stay better.

Improve Common-sense gun regulation

Protect our youth and communities with enforceable life-saving firearm violence prevention policies.

Fair and inclusive state policies

Strengthen our democracy and ensure government works for ALL Hoosiers

Equitable education and economic stability

Revive economic growth by reinforcing our education system.

Environmental & climate justice to build a livable planet

Grow a planet that is livable to achieve social justice and thrive.

 2. What is an important policy related to social justice you would like to enact?

  •  Eliminate “broken windows” policing of minor offenses.
  • Legalize the possession and sale of marijuana.
  • Pardon past criminal charges.
  • Expunge convictions for possession of Marijuana.
  • Tax the dispense and sale of marijuana to fund pre-kindergarten through 12 education, community health services, and infrastructure projects.
  • Eliminate recidivism by decoupling criminal justice solutions from situations where mental and behavioral health solutions are needed including substance abuse, untreated mental illness, and domestic disturbance.

 3. How can we decrease the spread of COVID-19 while helping businesses stay afloat?

Innovating and maximizing flexible work situations to reduce close contact and potential exposure to COVID is essential. The OSHA and CDC have both created comprehensive workplace guides that should be leveraged in the workplace to keep people safe. Government’s responsibility is multi-fold; we must ensure the supply and demand chain functions; we must be exceptionally transparent, fair, and equitable with grants/loans to small businesses; and we must provide eviction, foreclosure, and/or utility shut off moratoriums. 

 4. What else should voters know about you?

Belinda is a lifelong Hoosier and has lived in the far eastside Indianapolis community for almost 4 years. She mentors youth and volunteers for the Indianapolis NAACP Young Adults Committee. Belinda will take on deeply entrenched political power systems in the statehouse to improve life for Hoosiers families and communities.

State Senator, District 28

Michael Crider* (R) — did not respond

Theresa Bruno (D)

1. What platform are you running on?

As an active community member, I have noticed that many people want the same things. They want strong public schools, well-maintained roads and bridges, access to good paying jobs and affordable health care. 

2. What is an important policy related to social justice you would like to enact?

The first social justice policy issue I would like to enact is to decriminalize marijuana. This will decrease the amount of nonviolent offenders in our criminal justice system, who are disproportionately people of color.

3. How can we decrease the spread of COVID-19 while helping businesses stay afloat? 

Small businesses are suffering. The best thing we can do for them is get this pandemic under control. That means keeping the mask mandate in place, social distancing and limiting large gatherings, while the state and federal government provide small businesses funds to keep them afloat.

4. What else should voters know about you?

In 2015, I was the first Democrat to be elected to the Warren Park Town Council. I work with two other Republicans. I know how to build coalitions and get things done. 

State Senator, District 33

Greg Taylor* (D) — did not respond 

State Senator, District 34

Jean Breaux* (D) — did not respond 

State Senator, District 35

R. Michael Young* (R) — did not respond 

Pete Cowden (D) — did not respond

State Senator, District 36

Jack Sandlin* (R) — did not respond

Ashley Eason (D)

1. What platform are you running on? 

I’m running to fight for good paying jobs, protect public schools and stand up to extreme voices in the state Senate as the independent voice the community deserves. I’ll vote to invest in reliable public transportation, fight for more affordable and high-quality health care, and push to make family leave standard across Indiana. I’m a proven bipartisan leader who has built coalitions with Republican and Democratic leaders from across our state. I know Hoosiers are hurting and the status quo isn’t good enough. Our community deserves a state senator who’ll fight for our neighbors every day, not just every election year. 

2. What is an important policy related to social justice you would like to enact? 

Social justice begins by recognizing the inequities that plague our nation and addressing them from the ground up. 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. 

3. How can we decrease the spread of COVID-19 while helping businesses stay afloat? 

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 community to focus on supporting those businesses is essential to their survival. 

4. What else should voters know about you?

It’s time for a new generation of leadership that’s ready to listen and willing to fight for all Hoosier families —I will seek out voices from all backgrounds. I’m running to help open doors for all of my neighbors, so that we may all benefit from the success of our state.

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