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Candidates address businesses and schools at forum

Friday, September 28, 2012

Jim Mann II (left), the Democratic candidate for District 46, listens as Richard Thompson (right), the Democratic candidate from District 44, speaks at Thursday's state forum at the Brazil YMCA. [Order this photo]
During the political forum hosted by the Clay County YMCA Thursday night, six state representative candidates and one federal level candidate attended including: U.S. representative for District 8 candidate Dave Crooks, Indiana District 46 candidates Bob Heaton and Jim Mann II, Indiana District 42 candidates Alan Morrison and Mark Spelbring, and Indiana District 44 candidates Jim Baird and Richard Thompson.

One of the topics discussed by the candidates was attracting businesses to rural Indiana and creating jobs.

Crooks spoke on the topic first, explaining he feels there should be more incentives for small businesses. He also felt more should be done for returning veterans coming home from Afghanistan or Iraq.

Mann agreed, stating small businesses should receive a tax credit after hiring a new graduate or a returning veteran.

Heaton spoke of examples such as Cook Medical, which can't expand and create more jobs because of the increased taxes.

"They want to take risks to grow and employ more people, but they can't because of federal laws," Heaton said.

Thompson stated tax breaks should be given to small businesses to create more jobs.

Baird gave four steps to improve the issue: Encouraging growth, reducing the inheritance act, gaining more economic development tools and lowering the corporation tax rate.

"I will not bring one job to District 42," Morrison said, catching the attention of the audience. "As a state legislature, I take no risk. I do not put my own capital out there. I put no hours in. I have nothing to do with starting that company and taking that leap. What I can do is help push forward legislation that will help make that easier for those people."

He proposed developing specific incentives for rural Indiana and developing incentives to use decommissioned military bases, such as giving tax breaks or a training cost incentive.

Spelbring believed this issue is about being creative. He felt community members should take part in the discussion and planning of creating jobs and bringing in new businesses.

Next, the candidates were asked to name one thing they admire or respect about their opponent.

Crooks said he admires his opponent for giving up a high paying job to be a congressman and serve the public.

Thompson said Baird had been a commissioner and had learned a lot about county roads.

Baird said he respected Thompson for running in the election, for stepping forward and taking the risk to give the public a choice and to better the country.

Heaton said he admired Mann as a teacher, explaining that Mann had both Heaton's son and daughter in school.

Mann said he wished all his students' parents were like Heaton and his wife, explaining how supportive they were and calling Heaton a "model person."

Morrison said he admired the work Spelbring had done in his communities and wished him the best of luck in his retirement. He also wanted to share what he admired about Baird, ending with applause from the audience.

"He's an American hero," Morrison said of Baird. "He's my role model, and I can't tell you how much I respect him."

Spelbring said Morrison is passionate about the race, and he admired that he is doing it in the peak of his career.

Next, candidates were asked to tell what they felt should be done to improve the quality of schools.

Crooks began by explaining that there is not a "one size, fix all solution to schools."

He believed the problems should be solved locally because problems in urban schools would not be the same as problems at Northview and Clay City high schools. He felt the new system for evaluating teachers sets them up for failure. He said teachers can't solve the problems students face in their home lives.

Heaton believed what is good for the Wabash Valley isn't what is right for Lake County, agreeing with Crooks that each school is different and has its own solutions. He also said there should be a better way of tracking and monitoring where school funding is going.

Mann said he disagrees with recent education evaluations, explaining how he as a teacher is evaluated based on multiple-choice tests his students take. He believes students need to know how to write, process and outline, rather than just take multiple-choice tests.

Morrison agreed with Crooks, saying, "One size doesn't fit all." He explained public schools don't fix everyone and charter or private schools might be better for some students. He said he believed education reform would begin to work because it's what is best for the children. However, he said if it doesn't work in the future, they could figure something else out.

Spelbring felt schools should return to more local control because there are a lot of variations in students and schools. He said Indiana makes guidelines on funding, but that the funding control should be given to each school.

Baird believed teacher evaluations should consider the students' home lives.

Thompson believed education is not set up right and said he wants to fight for public schools.

Finally, candidates were asked to describe their vision for their district.

Morrison began by saying he wanted to see development coming to his district. He felt everyone as a community needed to work together in order to see improvement.

Spelbring said his vision was to have a great place to live, work, play and learn. He wants District 42 to have the opportunity to have good jobs in the communities so educated young people can stay in the area.

Baird said he wanted every child to have a safe home and sufficient food, the homeless to have a safe place to go, the communities to have the roads and infrastructures they need and young people to be as successful as they can be so his district can be competitive in the world market.

Thompson said he wanted to bring jobs to his district by having skilled and educated people in the communities.

Mann said he wanted correspondence between the representative and the public.

"It's not about the person in Indianapolis; it's about the 65,000 people that person represents," Mann said.

Heaton said his vision is for people to be able to get good paying jobs. He also wanted to continue to develop friendly working environments.

The forum concluded with final statements from each candidate.

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So refreshing to read a political article where the candidate told something positive about their opponent. Thank you for that. We continue to pray for ALL elections.

-- Posted by raycharc on Sun, Sep 30, 2012, at 2:16 PM

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