The Teens for Liberty Gen J club hosted a political forum for the candidates for State Representatives of Indiana House District 42 Tuesday night at the Clay County YMCA.
The candidates, Bill Webster (R), Jim Meece (R), Alan Morrison (R) and Mark Spelbring (D) were asked questions by Teens for Liberty club members Kelsie Risk and Jason O'Neal, who acted as moderators. First the candidates gave brief bios, with Webster speaking first.
"My name is Bill Webster, and I'm running for Indiana House District 42, I am a life long resident of Parke County, my wife and I reside is Rosedale," Webster said. "A little bit about myself, I have a business experience in raising livestock, I grew up farming ... I am a heavy equipment mechanic by trade, I work on large, expensive pieces of equipment, and I have proudly served my community for over 18 years as a volunteer firefighter and former chief."
Webster added what voters would get with him is a pro-god, pro-guns, pro-life and pro-constitution candidate who is a patriot conservative. Meece, also from Parke County, was next to give his bio.
"I'm the county commissioner; I have been for 10 years. I have a lot of experience dealing with state issues," Meece said. "There are many things the state thinks it can do better than the local counties, the local townships they want to do away with some of those things, I don't think that's the answer, there is a better way of doing it. I teach school at Turkey Run High School; I've taught for 27 years. I teach government and economics, so I know how the system is supposed to work, and I know its not being operated (the way it's supposed to be).
Meece also said he is a life member of the National Rifle Association (NRA), a member of the Rockville Christian Church and he's been a 4-H leader and a coach of many sports.
Morrison spoke next.
"I live here, just down the road in Vigo County with my wife and two young children," Morrison said. "... I work at Rose Hulman ... I work in facility management and before I worked at Rose I was up in Flint, Mich., and I worked for a professional hockey team selling corporate sponsorships."
Morrison, who was born in Pittsburgh, Pa., said he has lived in Indiana for more than half his life and feels he is a Hoosier.
"I'm running for this position because I believe I have a lot to give to this state and this area. We have a handful of problems, but we have a lot of potential," Morrison said.
Last to speak was Spelbring, who said, "I'm a Clay County native, raised on a farm in Poland, the youngest of four children ... I went to high school right here on this property, as some of you of course know Brazil High School sat right here."
Spelbring said growing up on a farm helped mold him and was why he ultimately ended up at Purdue studying agriculture.
"I've been involved in public service and community service with Purdue department of Extension Service, first in Vermillion County from 1985 for 10 years and then seven years between Vermillion and Parke and the rest of the time in Parke, and I now serve as the Parke County Extension Director," he said.
Spelbring said he was running because he cared about the future of the communities and he feels like he has the ability and the experience to serve.
The forum consisted of 11 questions.
The first question asked the candidates what they felt the primary purpose of government was and how the candidates seek to accomplish the purpose with their service.
Webster said he felt government was limited.
"To me, the primary purpose of government is very limited," Webster said. "As a society we have to have some law and we have to have provided some services. I'm cautious of what laws we have and what amount of service we have outside of your basic police, fire and that type of thing."
The next questions focused on the Indiana Constitution and whether the candidates had read it and if they feel it is a living document. Meece said he was on the side of constitutions being living documents.
"The constitutions are absolutely living documents," Meece said." It's because the founding fathers ... they can't foresee all the situations, that's why there are no laws in the constitutions, constitutions purely hold philosophies and the ways of life, the laws are passed to make sure that we abide by those ways of life."
Another question focused on whether political correctness is benefiting or hindering our society. Spelbring said he felt political correctness was hindering our society.
"By political correctness, I would assume what you mean and what I think most people assume is kind of shading things to not offend anyone," Spelbring said. "I think that tends to hinder a lot of things ... there are things that are right and wrong, and because some group or some particular individual may take offense to the way something is said, political correctness may try to skirt around that and get away from it, I think there's been too much attention to political correctness."
Another question asked candidates whether or not they supported the expansion of gambling through the Indiana Gaming Commission.
Morrison said he supported gambling, but had some issues with it, while the three other candidates were opposed.
"Yes I do, but I don't think it should be on a state level. I think the gambling commission has a very good handle on how much gambling and how many casinos or riverboat casinos the state of Indiana can handle with the population that we have and population that comes in from out of state," Morrison said. "If a community wants to hold a local referendum, if Brazil were to want to hold a local referendum and pass such a law, I really have no problem with it at all, that's the liberty and the freedom coming out in me, I think if a local municipality sees it a something they want to do to help spur their economy I have no problem with that."
The 42nd District includes Posey Township, Brazil Township and Van Buren Precinct 1, along with Parke County, Vermillion County and portions of Vigo, Fountain and Warren counties.