Column: Thoughts from Andy

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I like David Russ.  He’s a neighbor and a personal friend of mine.  I’d love to see Dave elected to the Indiana House from my district.  Unfortunately, the biggest obstacle in his way is longtime incumbent Jerry Torr.  Now, unlike State Senator Mike Delph, Jerry Torr is not an embarrassment to the legislature, Carmel, or the state of Indiana.  In fact, Jerry’s probably the nicest guy in the statehouse.  He’ll gladly give anyone the time of day, and listen to anything any of his constituents has to say.  Personally, I love the fact that Jerry wrote the legislation which (finally) put all of Indiana on Daylight Saving Time – although I do wish his bill had taken the logical accompanying step of returning all of Indiana to its geographically and historically correct time zone, which would have eliminated the dangerously dark double-daylight-saving mornings we experience now.

But when I asked Dave what he brings to the table that Jerry does not, I learned a few things.  First, Dave is a veteran.  He knows how to use firearms, including automatic and semi-automatic weapons, as well as artillery fire.  But that doesn’t mean he wants us all to pack heat simply to go to the grocery store or attend a ball game.  Dave’s certainly no gun-control nut (like I am), but he’s practical.  He knows there are certain places where weaponry simply doesn’t belong.  Specifically, he chastises Jerry Torr for voting for legislation allowing firearms in vehicles parked at our public schools – even though Indiana has no history of anyone prosecuted or charged with violating the old law banning guns from school grounds.  Torr’s vote (and the votes of his Republican colleagues) appears to have been nothing more than political pandering to keep campaign donations flowing from the NRA.

Furthermore, the gun owners Dave has spoken with don’t like the law either.  The idea of leaving a loaded weapon unattended (in a school parking lot, no less) goes against their gun safety training.  One voter likened this bill to the “No Texting While Driving Bill.”  That legislation allows a driver to play games and make phone calls, just so long as he or she is not texting.

In fact, the “Guns At School” bill was on the legislative agenda for debate the day after the recent killing at Purdue.  A number of individuals had planned to speak out against the need to change the existing law.  But at the last minute, the bill was taken off the docket out of “respect for the (Purdue) victim.”  It then resurfaced on the final day of the session, for a quick reading and subsequent vote – no discussion, no public input.  This is the kind of backroom shenanigans David Russ wants to see eliminated.  And re-electing Jerry Torr, nice a guy as he is, simply doesn’t change a dang thing!

Dave also cites Jerry for supporting a worthless bill which supposedly protects Hoosier veterans from job discrimination.  Yet Indiana is a so-called “at will” state, meaning anyone can be fired from any job at any time without cause.  Likewise, Dave believes the recent debate over “Right To Work” legislation was a lot of misspent energy and grandstanding, for the very same reason.  We are an “at will” state.  All Right To Work did was force union leadership to represent those who choose not to pay union dues – another symbolic slap in the face to working Hoosiers.

Furthermore, Jerry Torr (like Mike Delph) is part of what I call the “Mike Pence Cheering Section” – those state legislators who, rather than represent us, have spent the past two years loudly supporting everything Pence wants, no matter how stupid or disadvantageous to Hoosiers.  Rejecting an expansion of Medicaid funding for our state comes to mind.  Torr and Delph essentially sent our federal tax dollars to other states, to help their poorest residents finally receive proper health care, rather than back to Indiana, to help our poorest residents do the same.  Torr and Delph have also supported the governor in his public spat with our duly-elected Superintendent of Public Instruction, and they’ve supported Pence’s losing battle against same-sex marriage.  For the record, Dave Russ supports marriage equality.  He lost his uncle to AIDS in 1985.  Recently, he lost a close friend who never had the courage to come out of the closet.

It’s time to clean house, folks.  I like Jerry Torr personally.  But I also like Dave Russ.  And I like was Dave stands for.  And Dave will bring Indiana the same kind of change to the Indiana House that J.D. Ford will bring to the Indiana Senate.  Unfortunately, Dave’s district does not include the heavily Democrat sections of Pike and Wayne Townships that J.D.’s does.  That’s why it’s imperative that we all make a point to vote in a few weeks.  We need new leadership in Indiana, and we need it now!


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