ELKHART — The three hopefuls for the District 48 seat in the Indiana House touched on many topics during their face-to-face encounter at a forum in town.
They sounded off on same-sex marriage, whether they identify more with Gov. Mike Pence or former Gov. Mitch Daniels and more.
Here are some snippets from the Monday, April 21, gathering, the Pitch and Pull forum co-hosted by the Greater Elkhart Chamber of Commerce and The Elkhart Truth. The three hopefuls, all Republicans, are Doug Miller, Jesse Bohannon and Adam Bujalski. The District 48 race is one of the most hotly contested races in Elkhart County.
Same-sex marriage, vouchers: Moderator Kyle Hannon, president of the chamber, asked the candidates to identify a possible proposal in the 2015 legislative session that would potentially have a big impact here.
Bujalski and Miller both cited House Joint Resolution 3, the proposal that would define marriage in the Indiana Constitution as the union of one man and one woman, therefore prohibiting same-sex marriage. Lawmakers gave the proposal initial approval earlier this year, but it faces continued deliberation.
Bujalski and Miller both said they view marriage as the union of one man and one woman. Bujalski continued, indicating acceptance of civil unions between gay couples and support for the move in the last legislative session to strike a provision of HJR-3 that would have prohibited such relationships.
Miller expressed commitment to making sure HJR-3 is put before voters so they can have a say in the matter. Per the amendment process, state lawmakers would have to approve the measure in 2015 or 2016 and then it would be put to voters as a ballot question during November 2016 election.
Bohannon identified school vouchers as the big issue for him. He favors expanding the program for the K-12 school system, allowing more state funding earmarked for education to follow students, whether they attend public or private schools or are home-schooled.
Pence or Daniels: Asked whether they identify more with current Gov. Pence, or Daniels, his predecessor, the three hopefuls gave mixed answers. Both Pence and Daniels, like the three District 48 candidates, are Republicans.
Miller praised Daniels for bringing Indiana from good to great. Some of Pence's "points are valid," he continued, and he'd be able to work with the governor.
"I'm going to go with Mitch Daniels," Bujalski said. He described the former governor as a decision maker.
Bohannon said Daniels "did a great job." But he indicated he's more closely aligned with Pence, in part because of the current governor's social conservatism. Daniels, as Bohannon described it, is more of a technocrat.
Miscellaneous: Bujalski touted his experience working as a bank manager, making the tough decisions necessary to weather the recent economic downturn.
Bohannon emphasized his conservatism. "I've been standing strong against liberalism all my life," he said. He would "stand with other conservative state reps."
Miller cited his 39 years as a home builder.
"I truly have built Elkhart County," he said. He also called himself "a true Republican" and a "true conservative."
The candidates were also asked Monday about proposals on the May 6 primary ballot to hike property taxes in the Elkhart and Concord school districts to generate more funding for the cash-strapped systems. Miller and Bujalski expressed support, Bohannon expressed opposition.
District 48 covers northwestern Elkhart County, including northern Elkhart and Bristol. Tim Neese, the incumbent officeholder, isn't seeking re-election.
15 candidates in all took part in Monday's forum, those vying for the District 48 spot, more for three county posts up for grabs and also a judge's post that will be vacant. The primary is on May 6.