Candidates vying for state positions touched on topics regarding education, healthcare and how they plan to serve their constituents during the public forum.
The Clay County Chamber of Commerce and Clay County Farm Bureau co-sponsored the event Wednesday, which gave the public a chance to ask questions and hear what the candidates have to say.
The four candidates in attendance Incumbent District 44 State Representative Nancy Michael (Democrat), District 44 candidate Jim Baird (Republican), District 43 candidate Alan Morrison (R) and District 46 candidate Bob Heaton (R) agreed education was essential for growth in the Wabash Valley.
"Right now in the state of Indiana, 58 cents of every dollar makes it to the classroom," Morrison said. "We spend the third most in the country per pupil. So we are spending money, but we are not getting the money where it needs to get to. So I think we need to look at bureaucracy, administration and all the other costs that are holding it up before it actually gets to the classroom."
When it comes to looking at where the money goes, other candidates shared Morrison's concern for looking into that avenue, but also trying to raise the amount of money that goes to education.
"If we have 58 cents out of every dollar going towards education and the national average is 63 cents then why can't we bump that up another five cents, which will translate into $480 million for public schools," Heaton said. "We don't need granite or marble, we need to get back down to the basics. Not everyone wants to go to college, but they need that high school diploma."
While all candidates agreed the future economic growth of Indiana is reliant on education, the health of its citizens was also important.
"I am very interested in people and families having access to preventative care," Baird said. "The Obama healthcare plan is not the answer. One of the bigger problems we are going to have is access in the rural areas. I'm concerned about physicians that are not going to continue service if the reimbursement rates are so low that it is far less than their costs."
It was at the conclusion of the forum when candidates were asked how they would be able to rationalize their personal feelings, that of their constituents and the pressure from their political party.
"I've had some difficult votes myself," Michael said. "One of the reasons we try to communicate with you is to get the feedback so I know what you are thinking. I'm talking to my constituents not my leadership. I'm talking to the people I trust."
The 2010 General Election takes place Nov. 2.