EVANSVILLE, Indiana (WFIE) – On Thursday, the United Neighborhoods of Evansville hosted a candidate forum for local political candidates in contested races. Each candidate had two minutes to speak and then answered questions from the crowd.
The first race represented was the race for the House of Representatives for Indiana’s 76th Circuit.
Incumbent Republican Wendy McNamara discussed her record in office, while her opponent, Democrat Katherine Rybak, talked about softening the blow on debtors and fighting recently passed legislation.
“We have $50 million in grants ready that have benefited our community as a result of legislation that I support,” McNamara said. “We have road projects that go left and right because of legislation that I support.”
“I am the only candidate in this race who will defend the right to reproductive rights and the ability of doctors to care for their patients and women’s right to access medical care,” Rybak said.
For the 77th State House district, Democratic incumbent Ryan Hatfield spoke about his support for the work in Southwest Indiana.
On the libertarian ticket, Jada Burton said she wanted to bring a fresh perspective to the office.
“I’m proud to work with the Labor Chairman to ensure our pensions are strong, so that your pensions are there for you when you retire, so that you have a good retirement,” Hatfield said.
“I’m younger, I’m black, and I think it’s very important to see that representation and to let other young black people see that they can do the same,” Burton said. “My goal is to bring unity to the community.”
Republican Justin Elpers and Democrat Ryan Stratman faced off for Vanderburgh County commissioner.
Elpers focused on his record voting in favor of things like the Deaconess Aquatic Center when he was county councilor, and Stratman stressed he wanted to avoid politics and focus on infrastructure.
However, when the poll began, the discussion focused heavily on Elpers’ history of opposing any resolutions in favor of the LGBTQ community.
“I spoke out against the library using our tax dollars for drag queen stories,” Elpers said. “I spoke out against it. Our young children have been targeted and I have spoken up and our public tax dollars have been used on it.”
“We have a lot of problems here in Vanderburgh County,” Stratman said. “40% food desert, 20% of the children are, among other things, food insecure. My focus would not be on that, but on working towards those goals and letting people live their lives the way they would like to be treated.”
Finally, Republican Diana Moers and Democrat Jon Schaeffer, running for the Vanderburgh County Attorney’s Office, discussed some of their biggest priorities if elected.
“My platform for my campaign is integrity and professionalism and working with law enforcement,” Moers said. “I was very happy to receive the FOP confirmation today, so it’s a great honor.”
“I believe mental health and addiction are directly related to crime,” Schaeffer said. “If we can address those two issues, we can mitigate a lot of low-level crime in our community.”
In the race for Vanderburgh County Assessor, Democrat Matthew Smith cited his experience of Army logistics as a comparable skill.
Incumbent Republican Bill Fluty cited his own reviewer experience.
Many other candidates were present without their opponents being present.
All were Democrats, including Jason Salstrom, who is running for House District 78 on a platform of government localization.
Karen Reising, who is running for County Council District 1, said she wants to restore trust in government and fight mental health problems and substance abuse.
Sheriff candidate Noah Robinson focused on taking a community-based approach to law enforcement.
Last of the night was Dustin Stephens, who is running for Germany Township Trustee he says hoping to help the community.
US Congressional candidate Ray McCormick also attended the forum, but only briefly to introduce himself as the Democratic candidate.
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