Ralph Spelbring has never held an elected office, yet that hasn’t deterred him from running.
Spelbring, 74, is running for the 5th District Congressional seat on the Democratic ballot. An Elkhart resident, he estimates he has run for Congress six previous times in a Democratic primary, often in a district in which he doesn’t live, which is allowed by state law.
Spelbring ran in his home district, which was the 3rd district, in 1986. Prior to this year, his most recent campaign was for the 6th District in 2016. Elkhart is not in the 5th District, which includes all or part of Hamilton, Boone, Marion, Blackford, Grant, Howard, Madison and Tipton counties. Spelbring said his main motivation for running is to draw attention to issues facing Social Security and Medicare funding.
“The main thing is Medicare funds are going to run out by 2030 and Social Security will run 20 to 25 percent short in 15 years,” Spelbring said. “I think what needs to be done is to increase qualification age so the normal retirement age is 67. That needs to be increased quarterly until it reaches 70.”
Spelbring said he wants to start the retirement age increases in 2022.
He would increase the early retirement age of 62 to age 65 for Social Security using the same quarterly increases.
“This would be a big step to reducing the shortfall,” he said.
Spelbring, who is single with no children, began taking Social Security at age 69.
“I don’t know if I’m going to live long enough to have the Social Security (shortfall) affect me, but the Medicare shortfall is going to happen in less than 10 years,” he said. “That could easily affect me.”
Spelbring ran for Elkhart County Council in 2012 and 2018. He is self-employed on a part-time basis, delivering trucks and recreation vehicles to businesses.