For the past 24 years, Indiana House of Representatives District 93 has been a picture of political stability.
The seat has been occupied uninterrupted by Perry Township resident David Frizzell. During his tenure in office, the legislature has helped Indiana become a haven for business and economic development, bringing good jobs and lower taxes to the state, he said.
But as Frizzell attempts to secure his 13th election to the District 93 seat, a challenger has emerged saying it’s time for a change.
Democrat Greg Rathnow is opposing Frizzell in the Nov. 8 election. His platform focuses on correcting the anti-education, anti-equality and anti-labor sentiments that have come to characterize the Indiana legislature, he said.
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“We need a new voice. We need people who understand that economic development in this state is more than just cutting taxes for corporate CEOs,” Rathnow said. “It’s about making a statement as welcoming to all people. It’s about realizing that the economy is built on the back of the middle class. It’s about building a robust education system.”
District 93 includes the southern portion of Perry Township and Indianapolis in Marion County and a portion of White River Township in Johnson County.
For Frizzell, his experience in the House is a boon to the state.
“Not only have I tried to represent District 93, but the state. My philosophy remains the same: We have to have efficient government at the lowest cost possible,” he said. “I’ve done that my entire career, and I’ll continue to do that the next two years.”
One of the biggest developments to emerge during his time in office is Indiana’s budgetary and financial success, he said. The General Assembly has been active in keeping taxes low, and the goal is to continue to do so, he said.
“A lot of states are envious of us financially, that we watch what we spend and are very frugal about our money,” he said. “I want that to continue. I think that’s very important.”
He has seen Indiana enter a period of significant economic growth, with jobs from neighboring states, such as Illinois, relocating here. The legislature has implemented bills and policies regarding corporate taxes and regulations that have made the state attractive, and it’s important that work carries on, Frizzell said.
“The cost to do business here is much, much less,” he said. “We have the regulation that keeps businesses honest, but we also have the regulation that promotes growth. We don’t need to start layering on more and more regulation.”
In addition to his focus on making Indiana attractive to businesses, Frizzell has also served as the chairman of the family, children and human affairs committee for the House, as well as being part of the public health and energy committees.
Frizzell has focused on writing legislation to better unite schools, the Indiana Department of Child Services, social agencies and parents to better serve children in need throughout Indiana. He introduced a bill during last spring’s legislative session creating a program that allowed parents or guardians with power of attorney to delegate responsibility for their children to a third-party without having them adhere to the same requirements and regulations as foster care providers.
For example, parents who aren’t able to take care of their children due to health reasons or military deployment could assign control to someone they trust, like a family member, without fear of losing custody.
“I’m very concerned about the number of children in need of help in this state. That number continues to grow,” Frizzell said. “We’re trying to marshal those people involved in working with children.”
Rathnow is a first-time candidate who feels that Frizzell no longer represented the voters of District 93, he said. The southside Indianapolis resident is an admissions officer at IUPUI, and decided to run after watching more and more people in Indiana become marginalized by the current makeup of the legislature.
“The legislature attacked labor, they attacked teachers, they attacked our LGBT friends. I saw that my opponent was a proponent of many of the laws that marginalized those groups,” he said. “Rather than complain about it, I wanted to do something about it, to give the voters in District 93 a choice this year.”
Rathnow’s foremost message is one of economic growth. His approach would be to focus on issues such as education, infrastructure, transportation, equal protection and labor — all of which have been neglected in the past, he said.
“You’ll hear my opponent say that economic growth is growing and unemployment is at an all-time low in Indiana. While the numbers might say that, paychecks are not keeping up with the cost of living increase. People are working more hours for less money,” he said. “We haven’t done a good job in Indiana focusing on the middle class.”
Improving conditions for all residents would require a legislature capable of working across party lines, Rathnow said. If he were elected, he would not be locked into his party; he would vote to reflect the will of his constituents.
That’s been lost over the past few years, he said.
“We really have to put a stop to the divisive social issues that have really driven a wedge between people, and have done absolutely nothing to help our state,” Rathnow said. “We need to repair that damage.”
Rathnow would advocate for sexual orientation and gender identity being added statewide to anti-discrimination statutes. Recruiting for IUPUI throughout the Midwest, he often hears concerns from guidance counselors and prospective students about potential discrimination in Indiana, particularly among the LGBT community.
“Indiana has a reputation in this country of being discriminatory right now. We have to reverse that image,” he said. “That’s something I’d work extremely hard to do.”
The winner of November’s election will represent District 93 seat for the next two years. As a member of the House of Representatives, they will draft and vote on bills that come before the General Assembly, as well as approve the state’s budget.
Name: David Frizzell
Family: Wife, Valda; two children
Home: Perry Township in Marion County
Education: Bachelor’s degree from Loyola College
Employment: Consultant for the National Guard Association of Indiana
Home: Southside Indianpolis
Education: St. Joseph’s College, 2004
Employer: IUPUI, assistant director of undergraduate admissions
Duties: Draft and vote on bills that come before the Indiana General Assembly; approve the state’s budget
District 93: White River Township; Perry Township in Marion County
Term: 2 years
Salary: $22,616 per year