Chesterton Tribune

 

 

State House 4 Ed Soliday defends seat against Deb Porter

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By KEVIN NEVERS

In the general election on Tuesday, Nov. 3, Republican Ed Soliday will defend his 4th District seat in the Indiana House against a challenge from Democrat Debora (Deb) Porter.

The Chesterton Tribune invited both Soliday and Porter to respond to candidate questionnaires. The Tribune set word limits and reserved the right to edit for length.

(1) Age, place of residence, occupation.

Soliday: 75; Valparaiso; commercial aviation consultant; seven terms.

Porter: 61; Valparaiso; public school teacher (elementary/music specialist), Portage Township Schools.

(2) For Soliday: Why are you seeking re-election to the 4th District seat of the Indiana House? (75 words) I am running for re-election to continue to bring a strong, influential voice for the people of Northwest Indiana as well as District 4 to the Indiana Legislature. There are critical policy issues in energy and infrastructure that I feel can be served by my experience and relationships inside and outside of government.

For Porter: Why are you seeking election to the 4th District seat of the Indiana House? (75 words) My co-workers and I have experienced first-hand the negative consequences of ill-informed policies that state legislators have imposed. This has occurred despite numerous attempts by myself and other professionals across the state to inform them ahead of the vote that the legislation would be detrimental. Regrettably, my opponent refuses to consult his constituents, supporting his party’s legislative agenda instead. Our community deserves a voice in the legislature and it is my duty to be that voice.

(3) For Soliday: Describe your achievements in office (100 words).

* Authored landmark Little Calumet River flood prevention legislation.

*  Authored re-write of the entire Bureau of Motor Vehicle Code.

*  Authored major road and bridge planning and funding legislation.

*  Authored major finance and restructuring RDA legislation.

*  Created the Community Crossings grant program funding local road and bridge projects.

*  Named Indiana Chamber of Commerce “Outstanding Government Leader 2017.”

*  Only legislator named twice as “Legislator of the Year” by AIM (Cities and Towns).

*  Recipient of the “Virgil (Gus) Grissom Trophy” from the Association of Consulting Engineers.

For Porter: Describe your qualifications for office (100 words). My best qualifications come from my experience when I was elected to serve on the Valparaiso City Council. During my term I co-authored several resolutions and ordinances and we had oversight of the budget and all spending. I also have experience with the state legislative process through my many years as president of my local teacher’s union. Prior to that I was on the legislative action committee for the union advocating for teacher’s rights. Knowing how state budgets are set and how the legislative process works gives me a good foundation for the work ahead.

(4) Differentiate yourself from your opponent and indicate in particular why you believe yourself to be the better candidate (100 words).

Soliday: I have years of successful leadership experience in the business, not-for-profit, and government communities, working in many diverse areas: transportation, energy, environment, veterans affairs, safety and security and finance. I have a track record of bringing people of divergent viewpoints together to solve difficult problems. My opponent seems somewhat single-issue focused and has little problem-solving leadership experience.

Porter: First, he’s an ineffective 16-year incumbent. Soliday supports deregulating environmental protections on coal; I advocate for renewable energy and environmental protections against carbon emissions. I support living wages and tax cuts for middle-class and low-income earners. Soliday supports tax cuts for the rich while simultaneously accepting massive donations from out-of-state corporations. The pandemic stay-home order demonstrated how the lack of Internet hurt rural and low-income communities. Accessible Internet should be the state standard. As chair of the House committee that has jurisdiction, Soliday ignored this vital need when our neighbors needed it most.

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

Soliday: * Demonstrated collaborative, conservative leadership, versus inexperienced emphasis on ideology.

* Experience, relationships, and understanding of how to make government work for the people versus inexperience.

* Recognizing that the legislature faces many complex issues: budgeting for a large organization, education policy, energy, and environmental issues as well as social issues.

* Measured approach to managing the pandemic.

Porter: * The state of public education: Addressing over-testing, teacher shortage, low teacher wages and low wages for support staff, inequities in resources including infrastructure and equipment.

* COVID-19 recovery strategy: We have an obligation as a state to have a comprehensive strategy in place to get our home back on track in the wake of this pandemic’s effects on our economy and quality of life. There are hundreds of thousands of dollars of COVID relief funds that have not been disbursed to the people who need them the most, including small businesses and private citizens. We have a business community that is reeling from the effects of the stay-home order and the changes in consumer usages.

* The environment: Our state must set goals for affordable renewable energy. The evidence of climate change is indisputable and we must reduce our carbon footprint in order to ensure a better future.

(6) Given the record surge of new COVID-19 cases this summer--though not so far accompanied by the numbers of hospitalizations and deaths reported in the spring--do you believe Gov. Holcomb's Back on Track Indiana program was phased in too quickly? (75 words)

Soliday: I believe Gov. Holcomb acted at the right time with a data-driven approach, while being guided by the medical experts available to him. By acting early and gathering critical information early, he was able to begin Indiana’s economic recovery earlier than most states with less virus impact than many states.

Porter: I believe Gov. Holcomb’s Back on Track Indiana program was a well-intentioned and conceived program. However, I believe the time-table for implementation was too quick. His plan to have us pretty much open for business as usual by July 4 was far too early and ignored crucial safety and equipment precautions. We needed to slow down the timetable in my opinion. It isn’t too late but we have to start now.

(7) Do you support Gov. Holcomb's mask mandate? Why or why not? Do you believe he was right to remove the originally proposed criminal penalties for refusal to wear a mask? Why or why not? (75 words)

Soliday: I support the Governor’s strong encouragement of wearing masks to protect our fellow citizens from infections we might be carrying. Criminal penalties for not wearing a mask would be almost unenforceable for many reasons.

Porter: I support Gov. Holcomb’s mask mandate because the scientific evidence supports it. If we want to control the spread of this virus, wearing a mask is the most effective tool. It is cheap, simple, and effective. As for removing the criminal penalties, I have mixed feelings. While some countries have minimized the spread of the virus with stiff criminal penalties, we should do our patriotic duty as a good neighbor and follow the mandate.

(8) Whatever else the pandemic has done, it's revealed a profound rift between those who privilege collective responsibility and those who privilege personal choice. How can a legislator thread the needle between those two values and make law both acceptable and beneficial to all citizens? (75 words)

Soliday: There always have been and always will be rifts between the far right and the far left. A good legislator listens to the concerns of the people in the light of the factual data and does his or her best to make the best decision for the overall good of the people he or she represents. Representatives who try to please everyone, especially in a crisis, usually serve no one.

Porter: Any legislator who creates policy must always be cognizant of the balance between collective responsibility and personal choice. Isn’t that at the heart of our most volatile issues in our society? Whether it is the necessity of masks or the right to bear arms, ultimately, it is a matter of doing the least amount of harm while simultaneously providing the most good. Wearing a mask could save lives and requires no infringement on personal liberties.

(9) The pandemic has disproportionately impacted minority and impoverished communities not only in the State of Indiana but across the country. What can the Indiana General Assembly do to address the root causes of this disparity: unequal access to health care, chronic conditions related to socioeconomic status, the low incomes of frontline workers? (75 words)

Soliday: Having spent over 10 years as CEO of children’s homes around the world and chairman of the board of mission hospitals in Asia, I can say that the solutions to the issues this question raises cannot be answered in 75 words or a session of the legislature. However, I’m committed to continuously improving our Health Care Indiana Plan which serves over 500,000 low income Hoosiers and creating jobs through workforce development.

Porter: Economic disparity has been magnified by the pandemic. We need to rebuild our social safety net so we have the necessary structures in place to give those who need it a hand out of the difficulty caused by the pandemic. Doing so will allow them to once again be productive contributors in society. We also need to establish living wage standards for frontline workers and address our state’s need for affordable health care.

(10) What should the No. 1 priority of the General Assembly be in the 2021 session? (75 words)

Soliday: We should always strive for bipartisan cooperation and collaboration in creating legislation. This year working together will be key in dealing with the direct and indirect consequences of the pandemic, particularly unemployment, K-12 education, and the state budget. All have been deeply impacted by the pandemic. Our state constitution requires a balanced budget. Striving for ownership in solutions to difficult problems is critical in difficult times such as we are all experiencing.

Porter: The No. 1 priority of the General Assembly in 2021 must be creating and passing the biennium budget. In this regard we must consider the havoc brought to our state economy by the shut-down from the pandemic, the impact on manufacturing and other industries, decreased sales tax collection, as well as the other needs of our community, especially in regards to high unemployment and the state of public education and it’s funding.

 

 

Posted 10/1/2020

 
 
 
 

 

 

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