Elkhart County home builder running for Indiana House seat to spur economy, job opportunities

Doug Miller, one of three Republicans seeking the post, is running for public office for the first time.

Posted on April 1, 2014 at 6:31 p.m.

Editor's note: This is the first of three stories on the hopefuls for the District 48 seat in the Indiana House. Profiles of the other candidates, Jesse Bohannon and Adam Bujalski, are coming.

ELKHART — His granddaughter pushed him to politics.

Doug Miller, vying for the District 48 seat in the Indiana House, says it's every parent's dream to have their kids and grandchildren living nearby. That became crystal clear to him with the birth of his granddaughter, Taylor Bowman, now 4.

More about Doug Miller
Occupation: Runs D.L. Miller Construction, a home building firm.
Age: 58
Political background: A Republican, this is his first bid for public office.
Roots, education: He's lived in Elkhart County all his life. He graduated from Concord High School and went to Goshen College for a year.
Family: He's married with four children, one grandchild and two more on the way.
Other: He's a member and past president of both the Builders Association of Elkhart County and the Indiana Builders Association.

But keeping family from spreading far and wide requires jobs and opportunities, hence his decision to run. Creating economic opportunity in Indiana is his motivation as a candidate, said Miller, an Elkhart County home builder seeking public office for the first time.

Keeping family close is "what every parent wants and every grandparent wants," Miller said. "So my vision is to work as representative to help create that environment, help create those possibilities."

Miller is one of three Republicans running for the District 48 spot, which covers northwestern Elkhart County, including much of northern Elkhart and Bristol. With incumbent Tim Neese, a Republican, not seeking re-election after six two-year terms, a new face is inevitable in the seat. No Democrats are running.

In his 39-year career — first with a company owned by his father and since 1995 with his own firm, D.L Miller Construction — Miller, 58, figures he's built 1,000 homes. The last 10 years or so, he's lobbied on behalf of the industry at the Indiana statehouse with the Indiana Builders Association, which he presided over as president in 2011.

Between the trade group experience and working with individual clients, he figures he has the skills to get things done. A businessman doesn't survive 39 years or make it to leadership posts within industry groups "if you don't understand how to listen and translate what you hear into positive actions," Miller said.

He doesn't label himself but comes across as something shy of a conservative Republican, more moderate. He favors public-private cooperation in education, favors expansion of vouchers to preschool education. He's a "balanced budget person" and lobbied for property tax caps when the issue was put to voters as a ballot question in 2010, subsequently passing.

He views marriage as the union of one man and one woman and thinks House Joint Resolution 3, the proposal to amend the Constitution to define marriage as such, should be put to voters.


Here are more particulars on Miller and his views:

Education: In creating opportunities to keep Hoosiers in Indiana, a priority issue, he touts the importance of cooperation between schools and business. In some sectors, Indiana lacks the necessary job force, and the sort of cooperation he envisions would help offset those deficiencies by tailoring education to the specific needs of business.

The state government also has a role, permitting and fostering the public-private cooperation he envisions. "We're on the verge of growth and I want to be a part of that," he said. Such efforts will help retain "the brightest and the best in the state of Indiana here."

He backs the state's voucher program as is, which grants funding up to certain household income limits to families so parents can send their kids to private K-12 schools. He'd like to take it to the preschool level, as sought by Gov. Mike Pence, and as allowed, in limited form, in a pilot measure approved by lawmakers this year, House Enrolled Act 1004.

Same-sex marriage: HJR-3 could come before state lawmakers again in 2015 or 2016. If they approve it once more, as they did in the legislative session earlier this year, it would then go to voters for final consideration as a ballot question on the November 2016 ballot.

"My position is that the Bible says marriage is between one man and one woman and I believe that, and beyond that, I definitely think it needs to go to Hoosier citizens to make a decision," Miller said.

So does he personally favor amending the Constitution to define marriage, as proposed in HJR-3? "I am not for opening up our national Constitution or state Constitution," he said.

Local funding, taxes: He's mindful of the revenue worries of many county, city and other local government leaders. Tax caps, which Miller backs as a boon to homeowners, have taken a big bite out of local government's income stream, while putting a lid on individual property tax bills.

But he foresees better days as the economy improves, prompting corresponding increases in property tax flows for local government and resolving their money problems without need for other measures or taxes.

He's undecided on axing the business property tax, as sought by Pence, would like more feedback from the business sector. State lawmakers ultimately approved a measure that allows limited cuts, at the discretion of local leaders within each of Indiana's 92 counties.

Listening: He's met deadlines and budgets, worked with clients to make sure they get what they want, and listening has been key to his success.

"I have no issue saying that that skill set is going to serve me really, really well. I enjoy good debate, I like great discussion and I'm not scared of making a hard decision," he said.

Follow reporter Tim Vandenack on Twitter at @timvandenack or visit him on Facebook.


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