As Republican John T. Young and Democrat Michael Reddick vie for the Indiana House District 47 seat, their focus will be on improving education, making school funding more efficient and finding better ways to gauge if schools and students are succeeding.
Issues such as fixing Indiana’s infrastructure and addressing growing addiction problems among Hoosiers are also important to the candidates.
The winner will represent much of Johnson County, including Franklin, Union, Needham and Blue River townships, as well as parts of White River and Hensley townships. The district extends into the eastern portion of Morgan County as well.
Current State Rep. John Price, a Republican, opted not to seek re-election after serving two terms. Young won the Republican primary in May, while Reddick was unopposed on the Democratic ticket.
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The two candidates have never held office before, though they each have run for the District 47 seat in the past. Young lost to Price in 2012, while Reddick was defeated by him in 2014.
Reddick was a page in the General Assembly when he was younger, and has aspired to be elected to the legislature ever since. After retiring from Norfolk Southern Railroad, he decided to run for office.
His primary focus is on the problems facing Indiana’s educational system. He would work on adjusting the state budget to amend the funding formula for schools, equaling out the money districts receive and providing more for the schools that need it most.
If elected, he would work on implementing a full pre-kindergarten program for every child in the state.
“That would benefit us for years to come through their education,” he said. “I’ve seen from my granddaughters what a good pre-k program can do, and how it can advance them in school.”
The focus of Young’s campaign has also been improving schools and reassessing education standards. He said that school officials and administrators need more of a voice in addressing student needs, instead of being instructed through the legislature.
“Education is probably the most important thing that the state can be responsible for, because a well-educated citizenry leads to economic development. It leads to growth,” he said. “That has to take a priority.”
When changes to Indiana’s standardized testing come around, Young would like to give individual districts more say in finding the type of test that best serves students and schools.
“Working with schools, what I have come to recognize is that your teachers, administrators, principals all care a great deal, and do a very good job,” he said. “There needs to be open communication among all stakeholders.”
As an attorney who has represented government entities such as the county drainage board and local school districts, Young felt he had experience with the way government works.
Though Indiana’s legislature has been successful in recent years, there are issues within the government that he’d like to help fix, he said.
“Indiana doesn’t necessarily have problems, but I think I can bring solutions to some of the challenges the state faces, and help bring ideas,” Young said.
Improving school funding, retaining the best teachers and researching charter schools are all issues that the legislature needs to look at in the near future.
“You can’t have a one-size-fits-all approach,” Young said. “What is needed in another county might not be what’s needed here. There needs to be minimum standards, and we can’t tolerate failing schools. But at the same time, that’s why we have school boards. There needs to be local control of those issues.”
One aspect that could be important to the success of Indiana students is internet access, Reddick said.
The availability of the Internet is a vital cog in everyday life, and with so many schools including online lessons in their curriculum, every resident should have access to it, Reddick said.
“It’s important for education. So much of our education system runs through the internet; students do most of their homework through the internet,” he said. “Without that key component, the kids without access don’t have that ability and the chance to learn at the same rate as other students.”
Reddick would also like to see a hate crimes bill passed by the General Assembly, to protect all Indiana residents, including law enforcement officers, from violence.
One of the greatest dangers is Indiana’s aging and crumbling infrastructure system, Reddick said. Repairing roads and bridges needs to be made a priority by the legislature, a long-term plan to maintain those should be worked out so that future work doesn’t become too costly, and additional revenue sources will have to be investigated to fund it, Reddick said.
Reddick understands that as a Democrat running in a conservative state such as Indiana, consensus-building and compromise is the best way to govern. But he believes that even with partisanship making progress difficult in the legislature, it can be done.
“We can build a consensus and bring a plan together that will help the people of Indiana, not hurt them,” he said.
Name: Michael Reddick
Family: Wife, Rachael; two children
Education: Warren Central High School (1972); attended Ball State University, IUPUI, University of Buffalo (New York)
Employer: Retired from Norfolk Southern Railroad
Past political experience: Ran for same seat in 2014
Name: John T. Young
Family: Not married
Education: Indiana University with a degree in criminal justice and political science. Master’s degree from Southern Illinois University.
Employer: Attorney with Young and Young
Past political experience: Ran for same seat in 2012
Duties: Draft and vote on bills that come before the Indiana General Assembly; approve the state’s budget
District 47: Franklin, Union, Needham and Blue River townships, as well as parts of White River and Hensley townships. The district extends into the eastern portion of Morgan County as well.
Term: 2 years
Salary: $22,616 per year