Six candidates from across the southeastern corner of the state are contending for the opportunity to represent a portion of Jefferson County at the Statehouse.

The 2011 state redistricting divided Jefferson County into three districts for the House of Representatives: Districts 66, 67 and 69.

District 66 includes Madison and Hanover; District 67 represents the northeastern part of the county; and District 69 represents the western part of the county.

Education has become a statewide concern over the past few years. Jefferson County has felt the pinch with Anderson, Canaan and Dupont elementary schools being closed in the past two years.

And considering the funding for education makes up 55 percent of the state's total budget, candidates are putting even more focus on the topic.

Jobs have been a close second in terms of importance in the campaigns. The county's unemployment rate has hovered around 8.5 percent over the past few months, which is holding even with the state average.

State representatives are paid a base annual salary of $22,616 and receive a daily payment of $152 for each day they are in session and $65 for each day they are out of session.

The office is a two-year term. State representatives take office the day after the election.
District 66

The race for District 66 includes a six-term representative in his first re-election campaign in the newly formed district and a challenger seeking his first political office.

Rep. Terry Goodin, D-Austin, who has represented District 66 for 12 years, was unchallenged in the May primary.

Justin Stevens, who works for U.S. Rep. Todd Young's office in Scottsburg, is the Republican candidate for the district. There were no candidates who ran in the Republican primary, and Stevens, who is from Scottsburg, was added to the ballot after a party caucus.

Goodin, who also works as the superintendent at Crothersville Community Schools, wants to explore options for increasing funding for local schools.

"To have a great education program, we have to make sure it's properly funded," Goodin said. "I think we need to push very, very hard to get a portion of the (education) funding."

He believes a good educational system is key to establishing solid programs elsewhere. When businesses start scouting for places to locate branches or distribution centers, one of the factors they will look at in a community is the quality of the education system. A good education can mean good jobs, which in turn can boost the economy.

Stevens agreed that the funding provided to schools needs to be increased, but he also believes there are other issues to improving education. He wants to work with teachers to provide information about how they can better perform their jobs.

"We are testing kids to death and not letting them (teachers) teach," Stevens said.

Stevens has not been involved in politics for a long time. He currently does constituent services for Young's office. He felt there was a need for him to get involved and he decided he wanted to help make a difference in his children's futures.

"I just think that Indiana is in a great position to take off as recovery starts to happen, and I think that's going to be because of conservative leadership," he said.

Goodin said that over his 12 years in office he has seen a growing divide between the two parties and difficulty agreeing on issues.

"We have got to eliminate that. We've go to make sure both sides work together," he said.

Goodin said he works well with several Republican members of the General Assembly and will be more than willing to reach across the aisle when it comes to working to get things done.

Stevens hopes to be fiscally responsible with taxpayer dollars and maintain an environment where people will want to locate. A project he hopes to undertake if elected would be finding ways to fight drug abuse in communities. Scott County has some of the highest uses of illegal prescription drugs in the state.

"We are off the charts," he said.

Continuing with a thought of fiscal responsibility, he hopes to work to ensure that violent offenders will remain behind bars, while someone facing minor charges could be released and not burden the taxpayers while their case is pending.

District 66 Boundaries

The 66th District includes Madison, Hanover, Chelsea, Wirt, Saluda and Paynesville. It includes part of Madison Township and all of Hanover and Saluda townships.

The district line runs along the eastern Madison city limits and heads north up Shun Pike and into Jefferson Proving Ground. The district line heads west to County Road 400-W about a half-mile north of State Road 7.

The line runs south to Interstate Block Road and then over to County Road 600-W. It then runs south to State Road 256 and then west to Thompson Road.

The district line follows Thompson Road until it gets a half-mile south of Polk Road. The line runs to where County Road 800-W would be. There is no County Road 800-W, but the district line runs where that road would be located.

The line runs south to County Road 400-S. Anyone south of County Road 400-S would be included in the 66th District.

District 67

A freshman representative is seeking his second term in a newly formed district, with an Aurora businessman as his opponent.

Randy Frye, R-Greensburg, is being challenged by Democrat Tom Cheek.

Frye was first elected to District 67 in 2010.

Frye said he knew cuts were necessary and had to be made in order to keep the budget balanced. Frye said legislators cut 10 percent of every budget - including education - in order to achieve that balance.

"As we started into the session, we began to find out that revenues were increasing," he said.

Because of that, Frye said additional money was put back into the education fund. Currently the state spends 52 percent of its $29.5 billion budget on education.

"That is the highest percentage of every state in the country. It is an assumption that we're underfunding education," Frye said.

Despite this, Frye still hopes to be able to increase the education funding to the level it was in 2010.

Frye was unopposed in the Republican primary, and Cheek, was unopposed in the Democratic primary.

Cheek has owned and operated Leisure Pool & Spa in Aurora for 10 years. He said he is upset with the way the education funding was handled by the legislature.

"Education is a huge thing right now. And it's the backbone of this country," he said.

Despite claims of a balanced budget, Cheek feels there was too much taken from education.

"I think what they need to do is get the education budget where it belongs and not hurt the kids," he said.

Cheek has served on the Dearborn County Council for 12 years and he touts his record as being fiscally wise and voting against measures that were not cost-effective. He hopes to be able to balance the budget not by focusing on one department, but by looking at each budget and cutting waste.

If re-elected, Frye plans to continue his efforts toward making natural gas into a usable fuel for vehicles. He's been studying the proposal for two years. Frye said the U.S. has a 100-year supply of natural gas and that natural gas is 40 percent cheaper than gasoline and contains 90 percent less carbon than diesel fuel.

"I think this bill is extremely exciting," he said.

If elected, Cheek hopes to create an environment that will attract jobs. In that sense, he believes there will be more money coming in to the state and more money that can be spent to improve the economy.

"I'm going to be an advocate for working-class people," he said. "I think there's enough of the pie for everyone to get a fair share."

District 67 Boundaries

The 67th District includes Brooksburg, Manville, Canaan, Bryantsburg and Belleview. It includes part of Madison Township and all of Monroe, Shelby and Milton townships.

The district line follows the eastern city limits and north on Shun Pike and into Jefferson Proving Ground. The district line heads west to County Road 400-N about a half-mile north of State Road 7.

From there, the district line runs north following County Road 400-W and JPG Perimeter Road to County Road 1200-N, which is also the county line. The district line heads east and follows the rest of the county lines.

District 69

A Seymour businessman and a retired teacher and principal from Seymour High School are running to fill the open District 69 House seat.

Republican Jim Lucas and Democrat Jim McCormick are seeking the seat being vacated by Dave Cheatham, D-North Vernon. Cheatham decided not to seek re-election this year. McCormick won the Democratic primary for District 69 and Lucas was unopposed for the Republican nomination.

McCormick spent his entire professional career in schools and feels that education is the dominant issue in the campaign. Legislators made major cuts to the education budget over the past few years.

"We're now into the bone. And we have to get serious about it," he said.

In addition to proper funding, McCormick believes it's necessary to be able to train a work force that will be able to compete in the 21st century. This could be done by improving the technology available to students and giving students more opportunities at schools.

Lucas also wants to increase the funding for schools, but he also hopes to fix a system he says has become "dysfunctional."

Over the past 40 years, Indiana Statewide Testing for Educational Progress scores have gradually declined. SAT reading scores have dropped 33 points. Math scores have increased five points, but Lucas said that's not good enough.

"These are our best and brightest students, testing to go to college, and they're stagnating," Lucas said.

If elected, Lucas hopes to establish school choice, which would allow parents to enroll their children in whatever school they want. That, in turn, would increase the parents' responsibility for having a role in their child's education, Lucas said.

Both candidates hope to cut back on the number of regulations imposed on teachers in an effort to allow them to teach again rather than trying to focus on what the state declares they need to do.

McCormick hopes to take some of the $2 billion surplus announced by the state and put the money back into education. Some of the money has already been set aside to be used as tax refunds.

"How do you meet the needs of the agencies who have been cut over the past three years and how do we balance it out," McCormick said. "I personally think we should use that money to help create jobs."

McCormick hopes to provide incentives to help small businesses grow and add jobs.

"I just feel we have to be supportive of small businesses. I think that's where jobs can get created quickly," he said, adding that he'd like to focus on getting jobs for veterans and people claiming unemployment.

Lucas, who has owned and operated The Awning Guy Inc. in Seymour for 13 years, is relying on his own experience as a small-business owner to help him in this respect.

"One of the best things I know how to do is create jobs," he said.

Lucas said he would be a proponent for wiser spending at the state level. During his two terms on the Seymour City Council, Lucas was the only one to vote against plans for a parking garage that eventually received bids of more than $1 million. He also hopes to work for making a more effective government by cutting out some of the "strings attached" that lead to unwise spending.

"Every government agency I've seen ... they're not even strings, they're nooses," Lucas said.

Outside of education and jobs, McCormick hopes to see money used to improve the state's infrastructure needs. He wants to use the state's gas tax, which is currently 18 cents, to be used entirely on roads and bridges instead of split up and used on other agencies as it is now.

McCormick hopes to be able to work with people at the local level in order to figure out what needs to be done statewide. He said problem-solving works better when the work starts locally and then moves its way up to legislators.

Lucas also wants to look at ways to reduce excess regulations on businesses and possibly look at cutting back some taxes.

"It makes it more difficult to create jobs and maintain a competitive market," he said.

69th District Boundaries

The 69th District includes Dupont, Deputy, Kent, Symrna, Volga, Wakefield and Foltz. It includes Lancaster, Republican, Smyrna and Graham townships.

The eastern edge of the district runs from County Road 1200-N, the county line, south along JPG Perimeter Road and County Road 400-W to Interstate Block Road. The line runs west to County Road 600-W and then south to State Road 256. It then goes west to Thompson Road.

The district line follows Thompson Road until it gets a half-mile south of Polk Road. The line runs to where County Road 800-W would be. There is no County Road 800-W, but the district line runs where that road would be located.

The line runs south to County Road 400-S and heads west to the county line. The rest of the district follows county lines.