Education, overcrowded jails and improving Indiana’s business climate top the list of concerns for the two candidates running to be the Republican nominee for state representative.
Incumbent John T. Young is finishing his first term in office, a two-year stint where he felt he significantly contributed to passing important legislation for the state. He faces a challenge from Center Grove area resident Scott Horvath, who is running on a platform of being more active and attentive to voters’ needs.
The winner in the primary election will face Democrat Susan Clare Diagana in November’s general election. Diagana is unopposed in the primary.
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The seat represents District 47, which includes 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.
Young, who won the seat in 2016, is running for his second term to continue the work that he’s already started in the General Assembly.
“I feel like I’m making a difference. I want to continue addressing all of the concerns of District 47,” he said.
As an attorney for the Franklin-based firm Young and Young, he has experience with criminal and family law as well as with government entities, such as the county drainage board and local school districts. That gave him the initial experience with the way government works, and helped him make meaningful contributions to the legislature, he said.
Young served on House committees dealing with courts and criminal code, the judiciary and the government and regulatory reform.
He also introduced legislation addressing jail overcrowding, giving county jails flexibility to send inmates convicted of the lowest level felonies to state prisons if the county facilities have been at 96 percent capacity for 30 of the past 90 days. Though the legislation was not advanced during this year’s short session, Young would like to revisit the issue next year.
“Jail overcrowding is a local issue, for Johnson County certainly. But Johnson County is by no means the only county suffering from overcrowding; it’s a statewide issue,” he said. “There are still a lot of other places dealing with these issues.”
Young was named the 2017 Legislator of the Year by Mothers Against Drunk Driving, which recognized his sponsorship of a bill increasing the penalty for drivers who kill another person while driving while intoxicated. The legislation was inspired by an accident involving a drunken driver in Franklin.
Moving forward, he also wants to work on legislation focused on school safety, helping individuals and families impacted by the ongoing opioid crisis and reforming the ways that alcohol permits are approved and given out.
“There is a lot that I still want to accomplish. I don’t intend for this to be a lifelong job for me, but there is more that I want to do,” he said. “A two-year time span is not a whole lot of time to see things through.”
Horvath was raised in White River Township, eventually moved to Franklin and now lives in the Center Grove area. This will be his first time running for public office.
He was driven to enter the District 47 race due to what he felt was an opportunity that is being missed, he said.
“State representative can have a big impact on this community, and I feel like that’s not happening,” he said. “We need an active state rep who is meeting with community officials, attending school board meetings, talking with local residents, taking that information back to the statehouse and making decisions that impact our neighborhoods.”
The primary focus of Horvath’s campaign is education, and helping create opportunities to better prepare students for the challenges of the 21st century economy. Formerly, he was in charge of workforce, economic and community development for Ivy Tech Community College, as well as overseeing its Corporate College and Center for Working Families.
The education system in Indiana is at a place where key decisions need to be made to best serve students, teachers, families and the general community in the state, Horvath said. If elected, he would work on a system to assess and measure student success, without over-relying on assessment testing and turning teachers into babysitters of that process, he said.
Horvath’s background in education also parallels his experience as a small-business owner. He owns O’Malia’s Living, a heating, venting and air conditioning contractor as well as outdoor living vendor and has a valuable understanding of the challenges small-business owners face, he said.
“When you’re a business owner, your hands are in everything. You’re very disciplined, very pragmatic and take a very sensible approach. There’s not enough of that kind of behavior in the statehouse. We need legislators who have that business experience,” he said. “My role in education and my role as a business owner are two things that have really shaped me to bring a unique perspective.”
As a state representative, Horvath would also work to increase resources for workplace development, reduce the amount of regulation that impedes business owners from creating jobs in the community and reform the tort process to lower the impact lawsuits have on businesses.
“One of the key things I want to address is making sure that we bring back our tax dollars and reinvest it back into the community,” he said. “I want to make sure that the resources that are available at the state level are put back in this community.”
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: $25,435.98 per year
Name: John T. Young
Education: Indiana University with a degree in criminal justice and political science. Juris Doctor degree from Southern Illinois University School of Law.
Employer: Attorney with Young and Young
Past political experience: District 47 representative since 2016; ran for same seat in 2012
Name: Scott Horvath
Residence: White River Township
Family: Wife, April; children Isaac, 11, Elisabeth, 10, Ethan, 8
Education: Indiana University
Employer: Owner of O’Malia’s Living
Past political experience: None