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Karen Tallian defending 4th District seat in State Senate against Shawn Olson

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In the general election on Tuesday, Nov. 2, Democrat incumbent State Sen. Karen Tallian will defend her 4th District seat against Republican Shawn Olson. 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) Age, place of residence, occupation.

Tallian: 59, Ogden Dunes, attorney.

Olson: 40, Valparaiso, small-business owner.

(2) To Tallian: Describe your accomplishments in office. (75 words)

Author: Mortgage Foreclosure Prevention program. Co-author: Great Lakes Compact. Author: bill requiring due process for EMS providers. I have continued to work to improve the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund, resulting in endorsements by both business and labor. And I was appointed after three years in office to the state Budget Committee overseeing spending of all state agencies

To Olson: Describe your qualifications for the office. (75 words)

I’m a small business owner and the chairman and treasurer of my church board. I work with budgets daily and understand that budget cuts are needed at times even when they are not popular. A good budget manager can easily cut 10 percent off any budget without any real effects to the department. It takes a good leader to put politics aside and work with department heads to cut expenses without affecting efficiency or performance.

(3) To Tallian: Why are you seeking re-election to the office? (75 words)

This job is extremely time consuming and the learning curve is long and steep. After five years in office, I have established myself as a hard-working, reasonable, and credible member of the Senate, which puts me in a position of being able to contribute to significant legislation. A commitment for only one term is a disservice to the community. I still have many things to accomplish on jobs, education funding, and environmental protection.

To Olson: Why are you seeking election to the office? (75 words)

Our founding fathers created a country where freedom and liberty flourished which allowed America to be the example of the world for over 200+ years. We need to preserve the fundamental ideal of what it means to be an American. If we continue on the path we’ve been on over the last few years our children will not know the American Dream that we ourselves had the privilege to live.

(4) Differentiate yourself from your opponent and indicate why you believe yourself a better candidate. (100 words)

Tallian: I know little about my opponent except that he originally filed to run for the House, but changed his mind. He also had a web-page advocating Right To Work issues. I am not familiar with any other qualifications.

I offer my history as an attorney practicing in this area for 20 years. I am familiar with court and legal issues, giving me background for committee work on courts, judiciary, insurance, criminal code revision, and environmental regulations. My position on both the Budget Committee and the Senate Appropriations also positions me for protecting NWI for projects like the Little Calumet River.

Olson: I will represent the people in my district and be their voice of reason in Indianapolis. I will work to protect my constituents by being fiscally responsible with their tax dollars and ensure their hard earned money paid in tax dollars are not wasted on a political pet project. That is why I believe in the property-tax caps. It is a good beginning to limiting government and forcing the local governments to be fiscally responsible. Unlike my opponent who voted against the tax caps and the voters’ right to vote for this referendum on the November 2 ballot.

(5) What are the key issues in this race? (125)

Tallian: Setting priorities. On a statewide level, the most difficult issue is prioritizing which programs and agencies continue to be funded.

Balancing interests. We must balance between keeping taxes low and maintaining essential government services, especially education and job creation. We must look under every sofa cushion for every quarter. That means cutting programs we don’t need and investing where it will do the most good.

This Senate district is 25 percent Lake county, 75 percent Porter county. On the local level, we must look at the continued levy freeze in Lake County, and fight for funding for services like the South Shore RR, Great Lakes preservation, regional infrastructure like IUN, the Little Calumet floodway, and others.

Olson: Jobs are a big concern. There are either job killers or job creators. Government is not a good job creator; government only tends to create more government and get in the way of real job growth by over-taxing and over-regulating the job creators.

The people are tired of politics as usual. They voted for change in the last election but didn’t get the change they were looking for, just more government. Indiana’s Republican leadership has taken the first steps toward transparency by putting the complete budget online at They’ll be adding county budget information too. I hope those that vote for me will be my watchdog and use that information to keep an eye on the spending down state.

(6) What legislation would you favor to avoid further cuts in public-school funding? (75 words)

Tallian: Education funding accounts for about half the state budget, so public schools are at risk for further cuts. Education should be the LAST CUT made. At the same time, we should give schools flexibility to transfer dollars between funds until the crisis ends. We support creative solutions to fund adult ed. Revenue-raising possibilities are under discussion, including “claw-back” provisions for development loans and tax credits to companies who do not create promised jobs.

Olson: I ask the taxpayer this question: Do we raise your taxes to cover the loss of revenues from the economic downturn? I then ask this: What happens if more jobs are lost, more houses foreclosed on? Do we sacrifice our safety by cutting fire protection, bridge and road maintenance, to maintain the annual $9.4 billion for education or do we maintain the 53 percent of the budget we give to education already?

(7) Would you favor re-visiting the authorizing legislation for the Northwest Indiana Development Authority, permitting Porter County’s withdrawal from the RDA should the county lose its ongoing court case? Why or why not? (75 words)

Tallian: The RDA authorization statute needs some work, but I am not afraid to say that I support the RDA concept. RDA provided funding for the Portage Lakefront Park, and for the Porter Gateway project, and for the South Shore, just to mention a few.

Olson: I’ll glad to re-visit the RDA legislation. But if we do dissolve the RDA, Portage and Hebron just to name a couple will be in a budget crisis because they spent the money to cover their shortfalls. As a homeowner you should also know that your homestead credit is tied in with the RDA legislation. I’m willing to re-visit the RDA, just keep in mind there are a lot of commitments at stake.

(8) If taxes need to be raised, which taxes should they be? (50 words)

Tallian: We should invest in people, equipment, and infrastructure—in NWI, not just Indianapolis. Jobs are the answer to additional revenue. Raising taxes in a recession is a bad idea. The Administration failed to apply for certain available federal aid; Indiana’s share of federal dollars is going elsewhere. That should be rectified.

Olson: I don’t think we need to raise any taxes. We need to be responsible with the people’s money. Continuing with our transparency with government budgets online so the taxpayer can be our watchdog and holding us to these principles. I don’t see why we would need to raise taxes.

(9) Would you support cuts in state agencies—and if so, which ones—to address Indiana’s budget shortfall? (50 words)

Tallian: Current revenue shortfalls have forced cuts in every agency. Some of this administration’s priorities are not ours in this district. For example, there is more to do in Corrections. We can save with home detention/work release programs for non-violent offenders instead of paying to keep them in jail.

Olson: I like to see cuts in all state agencies. I’m not going to make them adhere to a straight budget cut across the board but I’m committed to not voting for any budget that will increase spending.

(10) Would you support a ban on texting while driving? Why or why not? (50 words)

Tallian: I was a co-sponsor on that legislation last year. Some people felt there were problems with enforcement and it did not pass. I hope to co-sponsor it again.

Olson: The problem with this type of law is the police have to be too aggressive to effectively enforce it. It’s one of those laws that make you feel good when you see someone in the next lane texting. In reality it will ultimately change nothing and texting will continue.


Posted 10/13/2010




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