Indiana Daily Student

Indiana Democratic candidates participate in equality and justice forum

Six candidates running for nominations to Democratic attorney general, governor and 9th congressional district representative spoke at a forum Wednesday evening at the Indiana Memorial Union.

About 30 people attended the “Winning Back Indiana” forum. The crowd appeared to be a handful of students and other adults and children as well as public officials such as Mayor John Hamilton. The event gave Democratic candidates an opportunity to acknowledge issues that affect marginalized communities. It was sponsored by four groups that struggle to be heard in politics.

Candidates were asked questions related to the cost of college, racial profiling and bias, discrimination against LGBTQ community members and climate change. Candidates did not debate, instead sharing policy ideas.

“What we kept in mind when we organized this was keeping it as a friendly conversation,” moderator and College Democrats of IU president Alessia Modjarrad said.

Modjarrad represented college students and other 18- to 24-year-olds while moderating the forum. She said she's been following politics since former President Barack Obama's candidacy for president in 2008. She said college students might get more involved in politics was to have an event on campus and at a time when many people have already finished classes for the day.

Emcee and president of Indiana Stonewall Democrats Dana Black said it’s important to consider state elections as well as the national elections.

“What’s happening in our state is equally important, so don’t sleep on that,” said Black. “Every time we get to vote, it’s a revolution.”

The candidates who attended the event included Democratic attorney general nominee candidates Karen Tallian and Jonathan Weinzapfel, candidates for District 9 representative Liam Dorris, Brandon Hood and Andy Ruff and Indiana governor candidate Woody Myers.

The groups sponsoring the event included College Democrats of IU, Indiana Latino Democratic Caucus for the 9th district, the Monroe County Black Democratic Caucus and the Stonewall Democrats of South Central Indiana.

The candidates each received questions before the forum, so they could prepare answers in advance. Black said she was surprised Myers with his final question, which was about how he would handle coronavirus on a state level if he was the governor.

Myers has served as Indiana’s state health commissioner at the same time he was a faculty member in the IU School of Medicine. While talking about state precautions for coronavirus, Myers referenced his time working in the health field during the HIV crisis of the '80s and emphasized the importance of having leaders prepared to handle the virus.

He talked about how important it is for appointed education officials to focus on inclusion and stop bullying.

The candidates for attorney general, Tallian and Weinzapfel, discussed the position's responsibilities and their stances on LGBTQ rights, education and overcrowded jails.

“There’s no justice when there’s bail for the rich and jail for the poor,” Tallian said.

On May 5, registered voters will be able to vote for the District 9 representative and the Indiana governor. The Democratic nominee for attorney general will be selected in June, and voters can vote between the Democratic and Republican nominees in November along with the general election for the District 9 representative and state governor.

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