Three candidates vying for an open seat that represents Johnson County in Congress all say their experience in business makes them most qualified for the job.
Republican Trey Hollingsworth won his party’s nomination in a five-way race in the spring, and now faces Democrat Shelli Yoder and Libertarian Russell Brooksbank. The winner will serve a two-year term in the District 9 seat, which stretches south to the Ohio River.
All three candidates said jobs and the economy are key issues in the race, and all pointed to their experience in business as why they are the best person for the job.
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Brooksbank, a diesel mechanic who lives in Clarksville, said he brings a lot of life experience to help Hoosiers.
He served in the Army reserve, has been a business owner and currently serves as the chief union steward at his workplace, where he has been for 10 years, he said. His union work has given him experience negotiating and mediating conflicts, and standing up for people’s rights, he said.
“That is the type of stuff we need in Congress right now, someone to stand up for our rights, and find common ground,” Brooksbank said.
As a Libertarian, he can find common ground with both Democrats and Republicans, he said.
Hollingsworth, a Jeffersonville resident and the Republican Party’s nominee, said his focus would be on bringing results through conservative leadership, including limiting government in business.
He has touted his business experience as a key reason why he should be elected. He created HCP, a company that rehabilitated abandoned warehouses and manufacturing sites, and understands firsthand what businesses face, including with restrictions from the federal government, he said.
Through his work in the private sector, he knows how to balance budgets, about the tax code and how government regulation can smother job creation, Hollingsworth said.
“Real experience matters,” Hollingsworth said.
Yoder, a Democrat who lives in Bloomington, pointed to her experience in business, the nonprofit sector and local government as making her most qualified for the job.
Her family owned a small business when she was growing up, and she saw the struggles they faced competing and paying their bills, she said. She also previously worked at nonprofit organizations, including a youth shelter, and had to make sure every dollar went to their mission and was accounted for, she said.
Through teaching at Indiana University, she can interact with the next generation of business owners and entrepreneurs, she said.
And in addition to her work in business, she also has served for four years on the Monroe County Council, with a focus on being efficient and effective running local government, she said.
“What makes me most qualified is my experience in working with a variety of economic stakeholders,” Yoder said.
Whoever wins will take office in January, replacing U.S. Rep. Todd Young, a Republican, who is running for U.S. Senate.
Name: Russell Brooksbank
Work: Qualified diesel mechanical
Education: Graduated high school
Political experience: Previously ran as Republican as state convention delegate; as Libertarian, ran for state representative and town council
Family: Wife, Tracey; three children, Autumn, Aimee, Aaron
Name: Trey Hollingsworth
Education: Bachelor’s from Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania; master’s in business from Georgetown University
Work: Founded HCP, which renovates industrial business sites
Political experience: None
Family: Wife, Kelly
Name: Shelli Yoder
Work: Indiana University educator
Education: Bachelor’s degree
Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne; master’s degree in counseling and human services from Indiana University in South Bend and a Master of Divinity from Vanderbilt University
Political experience: Monroe County Council since 2012
Family: Husband, Josh; three children
About the 9th District: Represents all of Johnson County and areas of the state south to the Ohio River, including the cities of Bloomington, Martinsville, Seymour, Bedford and Clarksville
Duties: Attend legislative session meetings, vote on and propose measures to the House of Representatives
Term: Two years
Annual salary: $174,000