When John Ruckelshaus decided to seek a second term for Indiana’s State Senate District 30 seat, he had no idea the election would take place during a global pandemic.
The Indianapolis Republican has spent much of his first term focused on health care issues, and with COVID-19 continuing to infect thousands of Hoosiers each week, he’s eager to get back to the Statehouse to address a new set of challenges.
“What excites me about going back, especially with COVID, is it’s brought some things to the forefront that we’ve been talking about behind the scenes,” Ruckelshaus said.
In the past four years, Ruckelshaus has worked to create laws that raised the smoking age to 21, required greater transparency from health care companies and created an all-payer claims database that requires hospitals, outpatient surgery centers and urgent care facilities to publish average prices of services and procedures.
“We passed a lot of legislation last year that really set the table for future legislative sessions to go back and take it to the next level,” he said.
Ruckelshaus’ interest in improving health care is personal. A father of three, he’s spent a great deal of time navigating the system as a parent, as his first two children both had approximately 20 surgeries to correct congenital glaucoma; his oldest son is a leukemia survivor; and his youngest son is a quadriplegic.
In addition to advocating for more transparency in the health care system, Ruckelshaus, who is facing first-time candidate Democrat Fady Qaddoura in the Nov. 3 election, said his strength lies in a proven track record of working with legislators outside of his party. He said it’s a necessity in District 30, which is comprised of roughly equal numbers of Republicans, Democrats and independents. The district encompasses southern Hamilton County and a portion of northern Marion County.
“I have been recognized by two statewide organizations as the most bipartisan senator in the state,” Ruckelshaus said. “I reach across the aisle, and we get things done, unlike in Washington.”
The senator said he is “probably the most accessible legislator” in Indiana, as he dedicates his Saturday mornings to meeting 1-on-1 or with small groups of constituents over coffee to gather feedback and ideas.
“This, per capita, is the highest-educated district in the state of Indiana,” he said. “We have a saying in this district, ‘People think they’re smarter than you. And they are.’”
Ruckelshaus also has participated in the state’s only bipartisan, bicameral regular town hall meetings that take place during the legislative session. The events typically draw up to 300 constituents, although they may go virtual during the next session because of the pandemic.
Ruckelshaus said his constituents value hearing from a variety of viewpoints and he takes them into consideration when creating legislation.
“People want balance. They don’t want too far left or too far right, and they want all sides to be heard,” he said. “That’s what we focus on.”
Ruckelshaus is the director of business development at Van Ausdall & Farrar. He is a graduate of Pike High School and Indiana University and is the former co-owner of Carter-Lee Lumber Co. He served as a state representative from 1990 to 1992 and as deputy commissioner for the Dept. of Workforce Development from 2006 to 2008.
Learn more at facebook.com/JohnRuckelshausSD30/.