By Brenda L. Holmes
DANVILLE — Ten candidates running for U.S. Congress Fourth District came out to Hendricks County this week to meet and greet potential voters.
The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) hosted the candidate forum at the Hendricks County Senior Center in Danville on Wednesday.
This was the first time NFIB had hosted such a forum. There were only a handful of individuals from the community who attended.
“This is kind of an experiment for us,” said Barbara Quandt, state director for NFIB Indiana. “It’s a beautiful day outside. Maybe people are out playing golf.”
Quandt introduced each of the candidates running for the Fourth District and asked them to speak about what they can do for small businesses. There are 13 Republicans, three Democrats, and one Libertarian seeking the seat to be vacated by Republican Steve Buyer.
“I got into this race because I am an old soldier who got fighting mad,” Republican Daniel Dunham said. “I want to get our country straight or there won’t be a piece of the pie left to eat. People in the states know better what the needs are than those in Washington. We need to build a team to get these things done.”
Republican Brandt Hershman said, “I have a small business background, so I know what these people are dealing with.”
State Sen. Connie Lawson is serving as the co-chair for Hershman’s campaign and attended the event here.
“If the legislature provides property tax caps in the U.S., it would create 100,000 new jobs,” Hershman said. “That’s just simply by cutting taxes.”
Hendricks County Commissioner Eric Wathen is another Republican seeking the seat.
“I don’t think our small business owners are out playing golf,” he said. “They’re probably still at work. Small businesses make this country what it is. You drive our economy.
“Cap and trade is bad for Indiana. We have to focus on job creation in the U.S.”
Republican Charles Henderson, the mayor of Greenwood, has also thrown his hat in the ring.
“I have lobbied for small cities and all they really are are small businesses,” Henderson said. “Small businesses and small cities are always kicked to he curb.
“I would much rather have 10 businesses with 10 employees than one large business with 100 employees,” he said. “If one of those businesses fails, you have the other nine. If that large business fails, you lose 100 jobs.”
Mike Young grew up in the Belleville area. He is also a Republican.
“You can’t tell a small business how to operate, or any business for that matter,” he said. “We need to reclaim our freedom. Government has gotten so big and so powerful.”
He talked about the health care legislation and how it takes choices away from medical professionals.
“We don’t need the government to tell us what to do with our lives,” Young added.
Republican Secretary of State Todd Rokita said he’s running because the amount of debt the government is running up is unacceptable.
“It’s un-American to pass this kind of debt to the future generations,” he said.
He said he has worked for small businesses.
“I was given the Guardian of Small Business Award,” Rokita said. “We’ve made it easier for businesses, like being able to file for a business online.”
Avon resident and Republican P.J. Steffen said, “People need to understand that the pursuit of profit is not evil. I’ve never heard someone who is starting a business say, ‘I sure hope I lose my house on this.’”
He said he doesn’t think the government should set a minimum wage.
“The wage should be set by industry,” Steffen said. “There is a demand for low wage jobs. Business needs to work with government.”
As an educator, Republican Jon Acton said he’s running to help the education system.
“Small businesses are getting slammed just like education is getting slammed,” he said. “And just like I’ve told my students, you can made a difference. My priorities are education reform and to reduce waste. And to all of you candidates, please support special needs children.”
David Sanders, the lone Democrat candidate at the event, spoke about his experience in the biotech industry. He is an associate professor of biology at Purdue University.
“The Fourth District has science and technology resources that will bring jobs to Indiana,” he said.
Sanders said as a life scientist he can bring a knowledge base and understanding that will serve Congress.
Independent candidate Mike Hight spoke about his experience on the Thorntown Town Council.
“We don’t need government standing over our shoulder telling us what to do,” he said. “The new health care will cost $1 trillion. Do any of you even know what $1 trillion means?
“I have no insurance and I am dead set against it. I’d rather pay for health care myself.”
The primary election is Tuesday.