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Election 2012: Jobs, schools top issues in House race

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For the first time in 20 years, residents in southern and western parts of Johnson County will have a new representative in the Indiana House.

Ralph Foley, R-Martinsville, has represented District 47 since 1992. But redistricting changed the district lines, taking out Hendricks County and part of Morgan County. Foley no longer is eligible to run for the seat because he doesn’t live within the new boundaries.

His seat will be filled either by Republican John Price or Democrat Chris Grider.

District 47 now includes Franklin, Union, Needham and Blue River townships and parts of White River and Hensley townships in Johnson County and areas in eastern Morgan County. The seat is one of three contested races that Johnson County voters will help decide.

DIstrict 47 file

Duties: Draft and vote on bills and state budget that come before the Indiana General Assembly

Includes: Franklin, Union, Needham and Blue River townships and parts of White River and Hensley townships in Johnson County and portions of Morgan County

Term: Two years

Salary: $22,616.46 per year plus per diem during legislative session

The Grider File

Name: Chris Grider

Party: Democrat

Age: 24

Home: Franklin

Education: Associates degree from Ivy Tech Community College in electrical applied science

Employment: Union electrician

Family: Wife, Chelsea; children, Shawn, 6, Teagan, 2, Mariah, 18 months, and Liam, newborn

The Price File

Name: John Price

Party: Republican

Age: 60

Home: Greenwood

Education: Franklin Community High School; college credits through Indiana University, Valencia Community College and Northwestern University

Employment: Owner and president of JLP Enterprises and of Irrigation Solutions

Family: Wife, Mary; four children

In other areas of the county, residents will elect representatives in districts 65 and 93. Rep. Woody Burton, R-Whiteland, is unopposed in District 58, which covers parts of Pleasant and Clark townships.

Grider said he would commit to working with other representatives to do what’s best for district residents. His top priority is job creation.

From his viewpoint, the road to job creation starts in the schools, he said. Pre-kindergarten instruction needs to be available for all students, and more support needs to be given for vocational training. Not all students will go to a traditional college, he said. As an electrician, he said, he has seen the benefit that comes from on-the-job training and apprenticeship.

Grider, a first-time candidate, said he decided to run for office after watching so many past legislatures get bogged down in partisan bickering and fighting. Too much emphasis was placed on beating the other political party, not doing what’s best for the state, he said.

“Politics has become very polarized,” he said. “It’s winner takes all, and that’s not the way government should work.”

The Franklin resident said he supports repealing the right-to-work law enacted last year because it weakens unions and hurts workers. He pointed to a number of companies that have left Indiana since the legislation was passed as proof that the law is not the job-stimulator that it was billed to be.

“It’s not a job-creation tool. I’ve seen proponents of it say phones are ringing off the hook with companies wanting to come here,” he said. “Here we are seven months later, and I haven’t heard of any who have come to Indiana because of right-to-work.”

He said he also would like to reform the Department of Child Services. Too many children are being harmed or not monitored by the system, he said, and he wants greater enforcement of rules against those who harm children.

“Protecting children is not a Democrat or Republican issue; it’s a human issue,” he said.

Republican candidate John Price has been a Johnson County commissioner for the past four years and served on the county council for four years before that.

The Greenwood resident has 36 years of county service, including working as chief deputy for the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office, director of county highway engineering and fleet maintenance, and a member of the Johnson County Development Corp.

All of those roles have given him the experience to lead effectively at the state level, he said.

He said, the biggest issue facing the district and Indiana is economic development. Indiana needs to focus on bringing industry to the state, then ensuring that those businesses are in the best position to succeed and stay.

“It doesn’t do any good if business comes to this district or state, and we don’t work with them to create more jobs. If they leave, that affects everything from public safety to education,” he said.

Property tax and other incentives and having existing electrical, sewer and highway infrastructure will make Indiana more appealing for industries looking to relocate, he said.

Taxes also need to be controlled. Property tax caps and limits have restricted the revenue that the state can bring in. But they also allows the legislature to predict the money that will be coming in and what is available to spend.

To supplement that, government might need to look at more user fees to fund various programs.

“We have to change with the times and stay on the cutting edge of those things. If we do, I can not only serve my district better but serve the state of Indiana to promote jobs,” he said.

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