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
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
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
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
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
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,
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 www.in.gov/itp 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
(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?
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.