Republican Indiana House incumbent Rebecca Kubacki of Syracuse is being challenged by Democrat John Bonitati in the District 22 race.
Election Day is Nov. 6.
The candidates answered the following questions asked of them by The Goshen News staff:
What will be your priority in the coming General Assembly session if you are elected?
Bonitati: My priority if elected is to bring a fair and common sense approach to state government that balances fiscal responsibility with smart government spending. My agenda is to focus on what best serves everyone in my district, not outside special interests. Public service must take precedence over self service. I believe we need government investment in infrastructure such as roads and education for a well trained work force to provide economic opportunities. It is important to protect workers’ rights to support a strong middle class and state economy. We need to stop the attacks on teachers and adequately fund public education with teachers having a “seat at the table” to provide input on solutions needed to bring word class education to Indiana. Lastly, we need to stop the cuts to the social safety net. We have a moral obligation to help those most vulnerable and with special needs in our community.
Kubacki: My priority will continue to be jobs. Government can not create jobs but we can, as legislators, create the climate that encourages business investment and expansion in our state. Aggressive economic development efforts and reducing regulations will move us in the right direction.
Early childhood education is also at the top of my list. We need to make our educational investment in the early stages of learning where the learning foundation is set. Lastly, I will continue to fight the war on meth. I will again introduce my bill that would make PSE a scheduled drug. Meth is killing our communities and ruining families.
Should the General Assembly consider a constitutional ban on same-sex marriages in Indiana?
Bonitati: I believe that cuts to public education, privatization and vouchers have not been in the best interest of our students. It would be prudent to step back and evaluate the effects of these recent reforms before expanding any of these programs. One area of educational reform that needs to be addressed is the way we evaluate our teachers. While test scores are an important metric in assessing student progress, it should not be the sole focus. We need a more balanced and dynamic approach. We don’t want teachers just “teaching for the test.” While instruction on the fundamentals is important, we need to make sure there is application of these basic principles to critical thinking and problem solving. This needs to integrate into the way we evaluate teachers so they can innovate and be challenged to grow in their profession.
Kubacki: Same sex marriage bill, section 38 reads, “Only a marriage between one (1) man and one (1) woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in Indiana.” It passed in 2010 with a 70 to 26 vote in the House and 40 to 10 in the Senate. The bill must be passed again with the exact wording in the 2012 legislative session. Passing the bill during session doesn’t implement the law, it will only put the question to the voters. As a representative it is my duty to vote as the voters of my district have asked me to vote on their behalf. District 22 overwhelmingly supported this bill and I voted accordingly.
Bonitati: The General Assembly should not consider a constitutional ban on same sex marriage because this is a judicial issue, not legislative. It will be on the Supreme Court docket next year and requires a decision based on individual rights. The General Assembly needs to focus on important problems facing our state, such as the economy and education rather than divisive social issues. The General Assembly needs to set priorities on what is truly important to improving the lives of Hoosiers.
Education reform has been before the General Assembly the past few sessions. Are there still areas of education reform that need addressed in Indiana?
Kubacki: We have excellent teachers in our classrooms, however the skills needed are changing and we have provided support to help our teachers keep up with those changes. The next generation of school leaders will be in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. These skills are essential to our children in preparing them for the jobs of the future. Teachers, principals and superintendents must all work together to provide strong leadership for their students and each other. Our goal is to make sure every student reaches their own potential and become productive citizens of our communities.
Occupation: DePuy Orthopaedics, technical product director knee marketing
Education: Bachelor of science degree from SUNY at Buffalo and a master of science degree from University of Southern California.
Related experience: Ran for Wayne Township trustee in 2010 as the Democratic candidate. Treasurer of the Kosciusko County Democratic Party. Member of the Warsaw Housing Authority board. United Way Day of Caring Project Leader. Special Olympics of Kosciusko County board member and coach. Cardinal Center ambassador.
Education: Graduated from Pierceton High School and Indiana Secretarial School of Business Philanthropist
Occupation: State representative.
Related experience: Charity work and fundraising for community not-for-profits and volunteering.