- Amos Thomas, Richard Thompson are candidates for 44th District State Representative
By JASON JACOBS
Candidates for Indiana's 44th District State Representative seat answered questions on privatization of state projects and other issues Monday night.
Republican Amos Thomas and Democrat Richard Thompson fielded questions from about 100 people at the Clay County Fairgrounds.
Thomas is a lawyer who shares a firm, Thomas & Thomas, with his brother, and Thompson is a mill ride, farmer and construction worker. Both candidates reside in Brazil.
Frank Phillips, forum moderator and Brazil Times Managing Editor, provided the first question, asking what would be the major task for each candidate to accomplish should they win the election on Nov. 7. Thompson said school funding should come from the state and he would try to help with taxes, which will be raised again in 2008. Thomas said he put his focus toward economic development and creating more jobs because it would be the best situation to put more money in the city as economic development would create more money on the state level and it would trickle down from there.
The first question from the audience sought the candidates' thoughts on the privatization of state jobs. Thomas led off by stating he was no authority on the topic, but had read much about it. He had no true feelings either way on the topic, but could see the downside of it with the regularity of layoffs. Thompson, on the other hand was against privatization, stating that it give the people of the area no benefit because everything that is privatized will come from out of state.
The candidates then gave their thoughts on the selling of state property, with the question using the toll road as an example. Thompson and Thomas differed on this question with Thompson against it because if property is continually sold off, nothing will be left. Thomas was for the selling of state property because most of the transactions are leases and the state can buy the property back. Thomas also said leasing property can relieve the debt on maintaining something that is not being used by the locals.
Audience questions then turned to the school system, with the first asking the candidates if they supported the state reimbursing local school corporations on interest accumulating when funding to school boards is delayed. Thomas said the schools have been given half of the debt and if the rest is not paid, they should be happy with what they have received so far. Thompson responded that he is in favor of the reimbursement because schools need all they can get to help educated the youth to the fullest extent.
Thompson faced the next question regarding all-day kindergarten by saying he supports the idea if the money can be obtained, but is not sure of where it would come from. Thomas questioned where the money would come from and which sector would suffer because of it. He is in favor of the idea and says it should be fazed in at first, and if it is fully implemented, it should be mandatory for all students.
The audience momentarily turned the questioning away from the school system, asking if the candidates would support an increase in income or sales tax to eliminate property taxes. Thomas answered first by saying the idea is a dream which will not and probably cannot be done. He said it is unrealistic because the property tax is unstable and if it is removed, schools and other corporations would be at the mercy of the unstable economy even more. Thompson was in agreement with Thomas against it. He said he would have to research the idea further and see a survey of the citizens' opinion before it would change his view.
The final question of the District 44 session asked if the candidates supported the legislature allowing schools to continue paying for utilities out of funds other than the General Fund. Thompson stated he was against it and schools should pay for their utilities out of the General Fund, while Thomas had no knowledge of which funds the payments came from, and he could not make an educated comment on the question.
This year's election will take place on Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2006. To register to vote and poll locations visit: