The next state senator who represents part of Johnson County should focus on the state budget and providing the right funding for roads and schools, both Republican candidates said.
Jack E. Sandlin, a former Perry Township trustee and Indianapolis Police Department investigations chief, and Jefferson Shreve, a business owner who just completed an appointed term on the Indianapolis City County Council, want the Republican votes for the Indiana State Senate District 36 seat.
Brent Waltz, who has represented the district that covers parts of White River Township and southern Marion County for 12 years, is running for U.S. Congress.
The winner will face a challenge in the fall from whichever Democrat is successful in a two-way race May 3.
Sandlin and Shreve both cite extensive experience and understanding of local government funding challenges and broad, complex statewide needs.
Sandlin, for example, managed a Perry Township budget of $15 million and helped figure out how to hire 18 additional firefighters without a property tax hike, he said. On the Indianapolis City County Council, he serves on the administration and finance committee and understands the financial pressures created by property tax caps.
“Local government service provides a good road map to the state legislature,” Sandlin said.
His work as a police officer, small business owner, elected official and township trustee give him the broad experience necessary to serve as a state senator, he said.
Shreve said he has worked to have an in-depth understanding of how the state spends taxpayer money and has worked in-depth with multiple organizations to see how legislative decisions affect education and businesses.
He has served on a charter school committee, the Indiana Chamber of Commerce board of directors and its education committee, the IU Alumni Association and the President’s Council at Purdue University.
Those experiences will serve him well, he said. For example, the chamber of commerce wants to promote an education agenda that prepares young people to get meaningful employment and for the state to have a workforce that’s prepared to grow the economy. He has been part of drilling down on the best policies to accomplish those goals.
His work on the board of directors and its executive and finance committees for a hospital system helped him understand the challenges of funding healthcare delivery in a nonprofit system, he said.
That experience will help him as the state determines how to fund Medicaid, the fastest growing and most challenging component of the state budget, he said.
Sandlin and Shreve have different takes on what, if any, taxes should increase or what changes should be made to give other elected officials the authority to increase or collect taxes.
Shreve said that legislators will have to come up with new ways to fund roadwork across the state, and that he is open to increasing the gas tax.
“This is the window of time in which to do that, when it will be relatively painless to increase that gas tax, which hasn’t changed in 17 years,” Shreve said.
He also was in favor of the long-term funding formula that Speaker of the Indiana House of Representatives Brian Bosma proposed, which called for increasing the gas and cigarette taxes and a study of whether to convert Interstates 65 and 70 into toll roads.
“The administration thinks that we don’t need to raise taxes when we have money in the bank,” Shreve said of Gov. Mike Pence. “I think that’s a short-sighted approach when we have to build and invest in roads and highways that have 40-year lifespans.”
The investment in roads is key as Indiana has grown as a logistics center, he said.
Sandlin said he supported the release of income tax money to help local communities fund roadwork, and said that the specific data from cities and towns that are rating necessary road projects needs to be brought to legislators so they can have a better, more comprehensive view of what work is needed.
He said he would not commit to never raising any taxes, but as a conservative Republican he would commit to putting every dollar to good use before asking for more money.
Sandlin said he supports the property tax cap system that was put into the Indiana Constitution, but said that Indiana’s cities and towns need to be able to make local decisions about other ways to raise more money to fund services. He cited Greenwood’s efforts to get legislative approval to raise the food and beverage tax in order to hire more police and fire fighters, which has not been approved.
“Let the community evaluate and decide if that’s what they need to do,” Sandlin said. “And if it isn’t a good thing, then their constituents would take care of that.”
Family: Has been married for 41 years, one daughter, three grandchildren
Education: Graduate of Greenwood Community High School. Associates degree in criminal justice and bachelor’s degree in business from University of Indianapolis, master’s in business administration from Indiana Wesleyan
Work: Has owned Jack Sandlin Associates for 20 years. Company specializes in fraud examination, private investigation and security consulting
Political experience: Is in his second term on the Indianapolis City Council Council, served two terms as Perry Township trustee
Residence: Perry Township
Family: Wife Mary
Education: bachelor’s degree from Indiana University, masters of business administration at Purdue University, master of arts degree at University of London
Work: Started his own business, Storage Express, after college. Buys, builds and manages 90 self-storage facilities.
Experience: Served just more than three years until the end of 2015 on the Indianapolis City County Council.
Residence: Perry Township
State Senate District 36
Represents: Marion and Johnson counties
Duties: Propose and approve state legislation during the annual Indiana General Assembly
Pay: base salary of $24,140, plus per diem of $159 a day during the legislative session
Term: Four years