Kenneth J. Eitel Jr., a Putnam County businessman, Monday announced his intention to seek the District 44 seat in the Indiana House of Representatives.
A lifelong Greencastle and Putnam County resident, candidate Eitel is currently the administrative partner of Eitel's Flowers and Gifts, a multigenerational florist in Greencastle.
"Our family has enjoyed many blessings from the community and its citizens," Eitel said. "The encouragement of residents and leaders to become a candidate for the Indiana House presents an opportunity to represent and serve these communities and citizens in a significant manner."
Eitel, 56, will enter the May 5 Republican primary in an effort to win the seat currently held by first-term Republican Andy Thomas of Brazil.
Thomas defeated Lana Schimpf of Putnam County in 2002 to recapture a seat Susan Crosby of Roachdale had held for 12 years before stepping aside. As a lifelong activist in civic and non-profit organizations, Eitel is an advocate of citizen leadership and public-private partnerships to accomplish an improved quality of life for communities.
"We must build community throughout District 44 to be heard in the Indiana Legislature," he said. "We propose to develop strong alliances in District 44 to call attention to the assets we offer in the heart of west central Indiana."
Eitel outlined the core of his campaign as citizen leadership for District 44.
The community-building focus of the campaign and, if elected, representation, will be on citizen communication by establishing a District 44 Advisory Council, developing a shared vision and communication with citizens for the entire year, he said.
"It's time for new leadership in District 44 and Indiana that encourages citizen participation and responsive representation to find solutions to the challenges we face today and in the future," Eitel said.
He invites residents of the district to participate in a citizen campaign by visiting www.eitel2004.com and e-mailing the candidate ideas and opinions.
"Our citizen campaign will focus on the key areas that matter most to the citizens of District 44: Leadership in job creation and rural development, technology and education.
"There are few legislators that will ignore the voice of the citizen, and we intend to carry that voice to Indianapolis," he said.
A graduate of Greencastle High School and Indiana Wesleyan University with a degree in business administration, Eitel is completing his Master's degree in management.
He started his business career with Horace Link and Co., a home furnishings and appliance store, before purchasing the family floral business in 1980
His wife, Jackie Eitel, is a registered nurse employed at Putnam County Hospital. Eitel has four sons, Tony, Patrick, Adam and Jacob, and attends Greencastle Christian Church.
A graduate of the Indiana Agricultural Leadership Program in Class VII, Eitel has been a founding member of the Greencastle/Putnam County Development Center, Putnam County Partnership Center, Putnam County Leadership Academy, Main Street Greencastle Inc. and Junior Achievement of Putnam County.
He has served in numerous leadership positions, including past president of the Greater Greencastle Chamber of Commerce, Main Street Greencastle, Putnam County Leadership Academy and Greencastle Rotary Club. In addition, he also has participated or is currently a member of the Putnam County Community Foundation, Quality of Life Forum, Greencastle 2001 and Greencastle 2010 community visioning, All-America City Community Committee, National Federation of Independent Business, Greencastle High School ICE Advisory Board, Putnam County Family Support Services, United Way of Putnam County, FTD district officer, Mary Allison Children's Home trustees, Greencastle Jaycees (internal vice president), Indiana Agricultural Leadership Program Curriculum Committee, Greencastle Community Schools' Facilities Advisory Committee, and a former member of the First Citizens Bank and Trust Co./ONB Board of Directors. Eitel was recently the recipient of a lifetime achievement award for 20 years of service to Main Street Greencastle, an organization with a mission of revitalization of the Courthouse Square Business District. Having served two terms as MSG president and three terms on its board of directors, he was deeply involved daily with the MSG organization, including acquisition of two major Community Focus Fund grants.
The first involved replacement of 19 blocks of sidewalks and the addition of street trees to the courthouse square. The second was development of a public-private partnership with three banks, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Historic Landmarks of Indiana and the State of Indiana focus grant funds to finance restoration of the historic Granada Opera house after a tragic fire on the west side of the Greencastle square. A proponent of building community alliances, he facilitated Greencastle 2010, a community-wide visioning exercise, and currently facilitates the Quality of Life Forum from the Development Center.
"It is time," Eitel added, "for my generation to build bridges that will encourage citizens and new leadership to find solutions to the pressing problems of Indiana. I'm interested in building bridges so future generations don;t have to fight those battles. This can only be accomplished with citizen participation and the involvement of the next generation. Our campaign and administration is committed to building citizen leadership in District 44." District 44 includes all of Putnam County plus portions of Clay, Parke and Vigo counties.