GREENFIELD — Incumbent State Reps. Bob Cherry and Brian Bosma have challengers this November who are calling for change at the Statehouse.
Cherry, R-Greenfield, has represented Hancock County as District 53 state representative — covering nearly all of Hancock County, as well as portions of Shelby, Rush and Madison counties, since 1998. He’s challenged by Democrat Nancy Tibbett, director of Bicycle Indiana, a nonprofit organization working to improve bicyclist safety across the state, and Libertarian Richard “Rick” Brown Jr., a small business owner from Madison County.
Bosma, R-Indianapolis, has served as state representative for District 88, which encompasses western Hancock County, since 1986 and has served as Speaker of the House since 2010. He’s challenged by Democrat Dana Black, a political newcomer from Indianapolis.
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Nov. 8’s victors will serve a two-year term representing Hancock County in the state’s capitol.
The three candidates running for District 53 state representative say focusing on education will be among their top priorities if they’re elected this fall.Cherry, Brown and Tibbett agree the state needs to expand its school voucher programs, but they differ on who they believe should receive the assistance.
Brown, who said he joined the race to bring positivity to politics and the state capitol, would like to see the state lawmakers broaden the school voucher program, which enables students from low-income families to go to the school of their choice — public, private or charter — and provides a certificate to help cover the student’s tuition or school expenses.
Students should be able to go to any school their family chooses, and the taxes their parents pay should follow their child to benefit that school rather than the school district where the family lives, Brown said.
Cherry and Tibbett both agreed lawmakers need to expand the state’s preschool voucher program, which provides state funding to parents who meet income requirements to send their young children to preschool. The pilot program isn’t currently offered in every county, and both Cherry and Tibbett would like to see it expand statewide.
Tibbett, a New Palestine resident who says she decided to join the race after watching the current administration treat elected state Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz poorly, said state leaders need to find a way to fund preschool for all children.
Leaders should chase federal dollars available for such programs if they can’t work it into the state’s budget and should consider limiting the program to public schools, Tibbett said. Public tax dollars shouldn’t support private schools, she said, especially when public school teachers across the state are being asked to spend their own money on classroom supplies.
Cherry is proud that the state’s poorest families now have an opportunity to help their children get a head start in education but says more work needs to be done, and lawmakers need to find sustainable ways to fund the program.
Black, Bosma’s challenger, said it’s time for change at the Indiana Statehouse. She decided to run for office in 2014, when Bosma ran unopposed in both the primary and general election.Black wants to give voters a choice when they head to the polls in coming weeks, she said. Many of the people in her district are tired of so-called career politicians, and she’d bring a fresh perspective to the Statehouse, she said.
People residing in District 88, which also encompasses portions of Marion and Hamilton counties, are concerned about education and infrastructure, she said.
She wants to see state lawmakers provide more funding for education to pay teachers higher salaries and ensure schools can give students all the resources and tools they need to be successful. The state also needs to invest more in infrastructure, including roads and lead water pipes still found in some Indiana communities.
“One of the biggest things people talk to me about is the potholes in their front yards,” Black said. “In my opinion, road and bridges are just part of our infrastructure needs.”
While Black was critical of Bosma’s long career at the Statehouse, he touted his experience. Indiana’s state leaders have put Indiana in the best position it’s been in a lifetime, Bosma said. During his tenure, the state has consistently produced balanced budgets, maintained strong cash reserves, funneled record funding into schools and improved Indiana’s job market, he said.
“Experience matters. Integrity matters. The ability to bring people together matters,” he said. “These have all been hallmarks of my tenure over the last decade as speaker of the house.”
Going forward, Bosma said he wants to help Indiana maintain its balanced budget while investing more money in education and roads.
He also wants to see the state focus on workforce development, providing training and education opportunities that align with real jobs so Indiana companies can find ready-to-work employees.
Already know which state representative candidates will get your vote?
Voters may cast a ballot ahead of the Nov. 8 election and skip election day lines. For complete information on polling places and early voting hours, visit hancockcoingov.org/hancock-county-indiana-election-office.