State candidates face off at forum

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Candidates for state senator and representative took the podium Wednesday night at forum hosted by the Greencastle League of Women Voters and DePauw University radio station WGRE-FM.

Present at the forum, which was held at the Watson Forum in the Pulliam Center for Contemporary Media on the DePauw campus, were Republican Connie Lawson, who is running unopposed for District 24 state senator; Republican Richard Bray, who will face Democratic opponent Joseph Osborn for the District 37 senator's seat; and Republican Amos Thomas, Democrat Nancy Michael and Libertarian Darrell Goldman, who are all vying for the office of District 44 state representative.

The candidates discussed a variety of issues, answering questions put to them by a panel. Panelists included Ruth Ralph from the LWV, DePauw student Kevin Hoesley of WGRE News and Banner Graphic Editor Jamie Barrand.

Lawson said although running unopposed took the pressure to win off her, she still felt pressure as a legislator.

"It's getting more and more difficult for families to get by," she said. "We need to put Indiana and Putnam County in the best place to weather the storm."

Lawson cited a balanced budget, property tax reductions, job creation, prescription drug assistance programs and increased school funding as recent Hoosier victories.

"But we have more work to do," she said. "I pledge to keep my focus on making Indiana a better place to live, work and obtain an education."

Bray said with the "media hype" surrounding the presidential election, "we forget the local races."

"I enjoy government, and I enjoy serving Putnam County," he said. "I think we've done several things right. We're in far better shape than any other state in the Midwest, and that's no accident."

Bray said he did not favor prosecuting crimes based on gender, sexual orientation or disability as hate crimes.

"A crime is a crime," he said. "Motive is not an element."

Bray said he favored doing away with township governments.

"Township government's time has come," he said. "It's time to eliminate it."

Bray is also against legalized gambling as a revenue source for state services.

"I don't think it's a wholesome function of government," he said. "I thought you were supposed to get rich by working, having initiative and saving."

Thomas said he was a proponent of all-day kindergarten.

"I approve of making it mandatory," he said. "Saying that, I know it requires funding, and that means big choices. But education is the most important part of government."

Michael agreed.

"If we don't get them at an early age, we'll be repairing adults later, and that's not where we want our dollars going," she said.

Goldman had a different view of the issue,

"Mandatory? No," he said. "Cut taxes, then parents will be better able to deal with education on their own."

Michael said alternate fuels should be a focus.

"It's where we're going," she said. "It's definitely a place where we should focus our attention and investments."

Goldman didn't feel the government should be so heavily involved in the alternative fuels area.

"We need to turn the free market loose on it," he said.

When the subject of abstinence-only sex education came up, Thomas pointed out it wasn't an easy question to answer.

"I think you need a mixture of abstinence and the other side of the coin," he said.

Goldman thought the subject should be handled more within the home.

"If we had more money in our pockets, we'd have more time to talk to our children," he said.

Michael thought an overhaul was in order.

"The sad reality is that abstinence is not working," she said. "Way too many kids are getting into awful circumstances."

One issue all the candidates agreed upon was immigration.

"The burden needs to be on the employers," Thomas said. "They need to make sure the people working for them are here legally."

Michael said federal laws needed to be better enforced, and Goldman agreed.

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