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Davisson, Oxley take aim at 73rd House seat

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By Janet Robb

TELL CITY - Bringing jobs to Perry and surrounding counties and helping small businesses were two goals candidates vying for the open District 73 Indiana House of Representative seat agreed on during a Sept. 25 forum.

Sponsored by the Perry County Chamber of Commerce, Perry County News and Cromwell Radio Group, Republican Steve Davisson and Democrat Dennie Oxley Sr. answered questions posed by moderator and News Editor Vince Luecke ranging from privatization and time-zone disputes to how the state can help Hoosiers in bad economic times.

Davisson told the audience at the Schergens Center that he grew up in the northwest part of the district, on a farm in Scott County. He and his wife, Michelle, reside in Salem and have five children, one of whom is serving in Iraq. A pharmacist in Salem, he said he "talks to his customers every day about the challenges they and their families face."

Pointing out that the 73rd district seat is open this year because Rep. Dennie Oxley II (son of Davisson's opponent, Dennie Oxley Sr.) is Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jill Long Thompson's running mate, Davisson said he's not running for any special interests in Indianapolis but for "hard-working folks in the district and all the things that will improve their opportunities in life."

Davisson is also running for the "young people who are migrating out of our community for lack of opportunities and for senior citizens on fixed incomes who have to choose between buying medicine and buying groceries." Also for workers who have lost jobs that cost them their health insurance and small business owners, farmers and homeowners who are tired of unpredictable property-tax bills because of "government waste and mismanagement," he told the audience. "And I'm running for our brave men and women who are serving overseas in the military so when they return, they too can find a job."

Many new jobs have come into the state over the past four years, Davisson said, but the 73rd district has virtually been forgotten for economic opportunities.

"It's time to send a strong voice to Indianapolis," he said, "one who will speak up for southern Indiana ... it's time to bring the jobs and opportunities back to our communities and we must stand up for our Hoosier values."

In closing Davisson said he wants to "write a new prescription" for the district which includes new jobs, lower taxes and affordable insurance.

"I want to give this district a strong voice in Indianapolis," said Dennie Oxley Sr. in his opening statement. "My opponent strives for several things that the leader of this state currently strives for and if you want more of that, then I guess that's who you want."

Oxley focused on small business, saying that more than 80 percent of new jobs in Indiana were from small businesses. "We need to do all we can to help these businesses grow and succeed," he said.

Small-business owners need help with rising health-care costs for themselves and employees, he said, pointing out that only 33 to 34 percent are able to provide insurance. Oxley told audience members that if small businesses pool together to negotiate premiums, it'd be easier with many small businesses totaling thousands of employees compared to one business with only 15 employees.

"We need a strong work force," Oxley said in closing. "We need to make sure money for economic development is distributed through all 92 counties of Indiana, not just central Indiana where Gov. Mitch Daniels is today."

Privatization of Services

Luecke opened up questioning by asking about privatization of the state's toll road and some prison services, asking how it is or isn't working for the state.

Oxley compared the state's privatization to him owning a large farm then selling off most of it just to have enough money to live off of for 10 years. Then for the next 50 years he wouldn't have the crops or money to live off of. "Where is that money going to come from?" he asked.

This is what Daniels did with Indiana, he continued, saying that the governor is selling the state and future generations will pay the price.

"As far as the prisons, our local people ... work in the prisons, that's their livelihood," Oxley said. "He promised not to take jobs away from Hoosiers but to give jobs to Hoosiers but when he comes in here and privatizes everything, he's taking jobs away. We don't need that."

The state is leasing the toll road, Davisson countered. "It was a lease, we didn't vote to sell it" and the money is helping with road construction and other projects, he continued.

"I think we have to look at what the cost benefits are and is it something we need to privatize or something we should privatize?" he said.

Qualifications

Oxley cited 16 years as a Crawford County township trustee and being president for his local teachers' association as qualifications for this office. "I have been at the statehouse year after year for teachers' rights" and those of other school staff, he said. "I was very fortunate to be in that position and enjoy doing it." If elected, Oxley said he will help the people of the district and give them a voice in the house.

As far as his experience, Davisson said he has been a parent for about 26 years, been involved in the community and served on several boards. Organizations he's been involved with include National Guard Family Support Group, Salem Church of the Nazarene, Washington County 4-H Leaders, Washington County Republicans and Washington County Unite.

He said he deals with people every day as a pharmacist and does problem solving often when people have questions about medications. In response to a second part of the question about career politicians, Davisson said he believes after people have been in office too long they get sedentary.

"Without competition, the person can get lax," he said, adding that competition makes it better for everyone.

Time Zones

Time issues have been a hot topic in Perry County with the state mandating daylight saving time, moving the county to Central time and the state denying a move back to Eastern. Oxley said he'd like for everyone to know what time it is in Indiana but understands that some areas, like around Chicago, would be better served in their time zone.

"I haven't studied the issue," he said. "I'm just talking as a citizen of Indiana." The time issue can be confusing, Oxley continued, telling the audience that when he came to Perry County for the Jefferson-Jackson dinner, he was an hour early because he forgot the county was on Central time. While he believes Indiana should be on the same time, Oxley said he agrees with Long Thompson that Hoosiers should decide the state's time fate.

"I'm not crazy about daylight saving time myself but I do understand that there are certain issues it works with," Davisson said. We can't have all of the counties on different times but we need to cater to the economy, he continued, adding that he agrees that the counties in the Chicago area would be best suited to be on Central time.

Helping Hoosiers Through Hard Times

Luecke told candidates that many people have taken advantage of the Angel Food Ministries' discount-food program and asked what the state can do to help Hoosiers with the bad economy.

Davisson, who has heard of the program, said the biggest thing the state can do is promote the communities in different ways. "We've got to come together and take pride in our communities," he continued. "We have to draw new employers to the area and have to help homegrown businesses get resources from the state to help entrepreneurs."

He also touched base on education, stating that "we have to make sure our community has the educational skills" to keep moving forward.

Oxley reiterated that the state needs to delegate money to all of the counties, not just around central Indiana. Also, schools need to better prepare all students, not just those going to college. "Not all students are alike and not all students are going to go to college," he said. Better education is the answer to a lot of our problems, Oxley said.