Gov. Eric Holcomb has a busy year ahead of him. In a roundtable discussion Jan. 5, Holcomb laid out his plans for 2021 and his thoughts on the national Republican Party.
Avoiding the controversy tied to several Republican leaders throughout the country following a leaked phone call between President Donald Trump and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, Holcomb said he had not listened to the tape of Trump asking Raffensperger “to find” votes in his state.
“I’ve seen reports, but I tend to focus on my day and night job, which keeps me busy,” Holcomb said. “My vision for the party doesn’t necessarily extend outside our state borders.”
Holcomb’s focus for 2021 includes equity, policing and COVID-19.
Karrah Herring will assume her role as Indiana’s first diversity officer in February. Holcomb announced the creation of the position, which will focus on systemic issues within state agencies, in August 2020. Holcomb announced Herring as his choice to fill the position in November 2020.
“The agencies have shared not just my excitement but my goal to remove those barriers and hurdles that might be in front of them from a state agency perspective,” Holcomb said. “I’m really looking forward to Hoosiers meeting Karrah.”
While Holcomb has said in previous interviews with the Recorder he isn’t in favor of defunding the police, he said his administration is taking steps to determine possibilities for change within departments.
Holcomb said during the roundtable a third party is evaluating the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy and recommendations for potential changes will come in the spring. All state troopers will have body cameras by spring, on track with Holcomb’s goals from 2020.
“I’m bullish on the fact that our legislative peers upstairs … have an equal appetite to make some progress on this front as well,” Holcomb said.
With the 2021 legislative session currently in session, Holcomb said he looks forward to looking through legislation. One proposed bill related to the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (IMPD), put forth by Republican state Sens. Jack Sandlin and Scott Baldwin, would create a five-person board to oversee IMPD. If passed, Mayor Joe Hogsett would sit on the board alongside four members appointed by Holcomb.
Holcomb said he hasn’t had an opportunity to read or discuss the bill, so his support of the legislation is “to be determined.”
“This past year was unlike any other, and I’m not trying to make excuses for myself,” Holcomb said regarding his regrets from 2020. Citing the number of lives lost — over 8,000 Hoosiers have died of the virus since March 2020 — the governor wishes he had been more expressive early on about the efficacy of wearing a mask. Holcomb also said he regrets walking into a Brown County restaurant maskless early in the pandemic and the incident lingered with him throughout the year and his reelection campaign.
“Forgetting isn’t an excuse,” Holcomb said. “It was stupid on my part and I took that as a real lesson.”
With vaccines available for frontline health care workers and long-term care facility residents, the administration will announce shortly the rollout plan for other groups. He said he wanted to make sure they had the “infrastructure” in place before making any announcements.
Holcomb’s biggest goal for 2021 is investing in Hoosiers and ensuring workers have the tools and resources they need to “skill up” and determine their individual career goals.
“That requires us to make investments in our infrastructure and how we relate to markets around the world,” Holcomb said.
Contact staff writer Breanna Cooper at 317-762-7848. Follow her on Twitter @BreannaNCooper.