Bachelor of Arts, Art History, University of Notre Dame
Master of Library Science, Indiana University—Bloomington
Human Resources Director, Win the Era (formerly Pete for America)
Elected officials must possess an interest in and commitment to learning. No elected official understands every issue that they will encounter, so being grounded in humility and a commitment to learning will help them hear their constituents and be open to new ideas and solutions to problems. I know that I have a lot to learn, but I love to learn and I’m eager to help my constituents, which is the foundation for any good elected official.
In terms of my hard skills, I have worked in nonprofit organizations throughout my career in administrative and operations roles, most heavily focusing on human resources. The skills that I have developed in these roles, such as coaching colleagues and working with staff members from across teams and departments, will serve me well in developing relationships with other legislators, allowing me to effectively advocate for and serve my constituents.
In the 2021 session, I would seek to sponsor a bill to increase education funding for our public schools. Our schools need more resources, from classroom supplies to the ability to increase teacher pay. In my current position as a member of the Goshen School Board, this has been made abundantly clear to me, and it would be my great pleasure to help to bring more resources and respect to our public education systems.
Additionally, I expect that many school systems will have unique needs next year, as we cope with the aftereffects of COVID-19 school closures. From additional social-emotional support for students to replacing technology that was damaged from heavier than expected use, our schools and students will have different needs in 2021 and beyond, and I look forward to supporting them.
I believe that the state of Indiana should be invested in funding and improving its public school systems. The legislation that has been put in place to support private schools and charter schools is often to the detriment of our public schools, and it is not clear that students benefit from the public support of private and charter schools. Should the state of Indiana continue to support all of these school types, I strongly believe that private and charter schools must be held to the same standards as public schools—they must not be able to turn away students, and they must be held to the same standards as our public schools.
No, I do not believe the state legislature has done enough to address the rising cost of health care, stagnant wages, teacher pay, and K-12 education funding—among many other issues. Each one of these areas is deserving of focused attention and smart solutions, but there is legislation that can be enacted concerning any of these issues. Well crafted legislation can address some of the pain we are currently feeling as a state and the challenges that our residents confront from day-to-day.
When asking whether the state can afford to do more financially in these areas, we must consider how money is being allocated across the board, and what expenditures might potentially be decreased to allow for increased funding for these issues and in other areas of need. Additionally, we must ask what other sources of revenue may be available, such as the legalization and taxation of marijuana.
I believe that a federal reexamination of marijuana should be undertaken. However, in the absence of action by the federal government, I support the right of states to pursue changes to marijuana laws in their jurisdictions.
I firmly believe that marijuana should be decriminalized, and I support the legalization of marijuana for both medical and recreational uses. Decriminalizing marijuana would reduce the load on our prison systems. Legalizing marijuana and taxing it would create a revenue stream for the state that could be put to good use in many ways, such as increasing education funding.
I stayed in Indiana to attend college in part because of the generous in-state support I was able to receive. I applaud what we are doing and have done for our students, but the legislature should continue to review existing programs and explore new options to help to make college possible for every student. When considering legislation, we should also keep the brain drain top of mind. How can we support Hoosier students and encourage them to stay in Indiana after graduation, thereby building a strong future economy for the state? If we can retain our students after graduation, then we can generate more income for the state by building a stronger tax base. Those gains can then be re-invested in educating future students.
First and foremost, there must be legislation to protect the health and safety of workers on the job. This becomes even more vital as we plan for opening up more businesses and public spaces without a vaccine for COVID-19 on the immediate horizon.
Next, we must consider what longterm changes may need to be made to our unemployment system. If a recession follows the COVID-19 pandemic, there must be a robust safety net in place for our workers as the economy recovers.
Finally, we must consider legislation to aid our students and teachers and to make us ready for disruptive events in the future. In my district and across the state, schools have been nimble in employing e-learning to keep students engaged and learning from home, but there are many hurdles. For example, many students do not have internet in their homes, and their families may not have the resources to pay for access. I would encourage Indiana to consider legislation to ensure access to the internet for all students.