Chesterton Tribune



Soliday facing Szczepanski in State Representative race

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In the general election on Tuesday, Nov. 6, incumbent State Rep. Ed Soliday, R-Valparaiso, will face a challenge from Democrat Frank Szczepanski. The Chesterton Tribune invited both to respond to candidate questionnaires.

The Tribune set word limits for each question and reserved the right to edit for length.

(1) For Soliday: Age, place of residence, occupation, term in office. 73; Valparaiso; aviation consultant; sixth term.

For Szczepanski: Age, place of residence, occupation: 67; Center Township; CEO, IVDiagnostics Inc., an Indiana biotech company creating pain-free diagnosis and monitoring of cancer cells, especially breast-cancer cells.

(2) For Soliday: Why are you seeking re-election to the 4th District seat in the Indiana House? (75 words) Desire to continue legislative leadership role in providing fiscal responsibility, government accountability, and in rebuilding Indiana’s transportation and utilities infrastructure.

For Szczepanski: Why are you seeking election to the 4th District seat in the Indiana House? (75 words) We have a political problem in this country and we all know what it is. In every election, we’re stuck having to choose the candidate who is the lesser of two evils. People want their representative to be a good person, someone who actually cares about them. I’ve been that person my whole life: I was raised that way, and I will bring servant leadership to the Statehouse for the people in my district.

(3) For Soliday: Describe your achievements in the House (100 words). Author of Little Calumet River flooding mitigation bill; the complete rewrite of the Bureau of Motor Vehicles statutory code; and Indiana’s landmark road and bridges infrastructure funding legislation. Leader/author in much of the South Shore expansion enabling legislation. Named Outstanding Government Leader of the Year by the Indiana State Chamber of Commerce, 2017. Only legislator twice named Legislator of the Year by the Indiana Association of Cities and Towns. Twice named Legislator of the Year by the Indiana Farm Bureau. Recipient of the ACEC, Gus Grissom trophy, and the prestigious Friend of Farmers Award (only awarded twice in history).

For Szczepanski: Describe your qualifications for the seat (100 words). I’m not a career politician. I’m a CEO, entrepreneur, and recognized innovator: CEO IVDiagnostics, 10 years; executive in nine STEM startups; 15 years’ finance experience with over $2 billion budgets; SBDC Region 5, Revolutionary Tech Company 2011; NWI Society of Innovators, Chanute Award; Elevate Ventures, founding Stakeholder Committee; US Congressional Record of Distinction; Purdue NW School of Science and CMEC Advisory Board.

Community Service: BSA, LaSalle Council; Eagle Scout, Troop 7; Habitat For Humanity; East Chicago Water Drive Valpo, founder; Rotary Club, Valparaiso; Special Olympics; Rebuilding Together Valpo; St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, Pastoral Council; Valpo Diversity Network Association; American Legion Post 369

(4) Differentiate yourself from your opponent and indicate in particular why you believe yourself to be a better candidate (125 words).

Soliday: I have business experience as a Fortune 500 corporate division head; served the public on multiple not-for-profit boards of directors; served on multiple industry/government technical problem-solving committees, including co-chairing the Commercial Aviation Safety team which received the Collier Trophy for reducing commercial aviation fatalities by 83 percent in 10 years. I have 30 plus years of experience with government and industry solving complex problems. I have 17 years of experience in higher education as an adjunct professor and university board of regents member. My opponent’s documented experience in finding commonsense solutions to public/private sector problems without excessive regulation is limited at best.

Szczepanski: It’s time to think outside the box and get things done for all Hoosiers. It doesn’t take lots of money or six terms in office--it just takes political courage to fight for working families. Our greatest strength comes from our ability to work together to make a difference. For Indiana to be a place of freedom for all, we can’t let the greedy few and the politicians they purchase divide us based on where we are from, how much money we have, or what we look like. It’s time to stand up for each other and come together to pick leaders who reflect the very best in all of us. Together, we can make this a place where freedom is for everyone, no exceptions.

(5) What are they key issues in this race? (150 words)

Soliday: Key issues in this race are: first, fiscal responsibility through a balanced budget that does not leave a legacy of debt to our children and grandchildren; second, creating educational opportunities so that our educational system meets the demands of a modern competitive workforce; third, continuing the efforts to restore and modernize our deteriorating infrastructure systems.

Szczepanski: My No. 1 focus is to work across party lines to develop:

Good-paying jobs: create 21st Century technology jobs and skills training; raise wages to keep up with the cost of living; ensure equal pay for equal work.

Affordable healthcare: eliminate expensive premiums, high co-pays, and deductibles; reduce unnecessary administrative and pharmaceutical costs; author an Indiana Medicare For All plan.

Public education: invest in properly funded public education and stop forcing property-tax increases just to fund local public schools; improve funding for special education, ESL, and wrap-around services; establish competitive teacher salaries to keep the best teachers in the classroom.

Innovation: develop affordable, reliable access to the Internet; invest in cybersecurity at the state, county, and local level to close the gap on our vulnerabilities; invest in sustainable, renewable energy, agriculture, and medical applications.

(6) The Indiana Department of Transportation has retained an engineering consultant to development a plan to introduce tolls on a number of currently non-tolled interstates, including I-94 between Illinois and Michigan; and I-65 from I-90 south to I-465. Would you support such a plan? Why or why not? (75 words)

Soliday: Indiana’s roads and bridges are built and maintained through fuel taxes and tolls, not general revenue taxes. As vehicles get better gas mileage, road funding decreases. Since a large portion of the traffic on Indiana’s interstates is from out of state, it is reasonable to consider tolling as a fair funding option. The governor already has the authority to toll without approval of the legislature.

Szczepanski: Tax and spend elsewhere: that’s what this plan really is. Hardworking NWI families can’t afford to be the workhorse for pet political projects downstate. This toll proposal amounts to nothing more than another way to siphon money out of the region and into Indianapolis. The $20 billion tax increase my opponent authored last year should be used to repair potholes and aging infrastructure. We don’t need new taxes every two years.

(7) The Indiana Coalition for Independent Redistricting is currently campaigning to introduce independent, non-partisan redistricting in the state, to end the practice known as gerrymandering: the majority party’s power in the Indiana General Assembly to re-draw districts to protect its own candidates and suppress meaningful competition from the opposing party’s candidates. Are you in favor of independent, non-partisan redistricting? Why or why not? (75 words)

Soliday: I have coauthored several bills supporting independent, non-partisan redistricting. The operative words are “independent” and “non-partisan” and what is the make-up of such a group? Last year’s bill, which was the product of hours of work to reach a compromise, was rejected by liberal, “non-partisan” groups who testified against it in committee resulting in its being removed from the agenda. The Indiana Constitution requires legislative approval of redistricting plans.

Szczepanski: We must establish an impartial non-partisan redistricting commission comprised of independent citizens so Hoosiers can pick their representatives. We have a patriotic duty to reform the rigged rules of our broken election system that manipulate voting maps. Once elected, I’ll kick the fox out of the henhouse and end gerrymandering that keeps partisan politicians in power, so we can finally achieve the American dream of a representative government of, by, and for the people.

(8) On what single issue do you believe bipartisanship to be vital to the future of the State of Indiana? (75 words)

Soliday: Ideally every issue should be resolved in a bi-partisan way. The overwhelming majority of bills that pass the Indiana state legislature are bi-partisan. There are 6.5 million Hoosiers and they don’t all think alike, but they all deserve representation. Bi-partisan law lasts longer and works better, so we should strive for it in all legislation, but sometimes it is just unachievable.

Szczepanski: Every child deserves the chance to pursue their dreams but the privatization of public schools has put our children’s future at risk. We need to come together and work across the aisle to make this state a place we are proud to raise our kids. We must invest in public education, in the minds of all Hoosier kids, who will bring new ideas to our state and create a better future for all of us.



Posted 10/9/2018




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