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Thursday, April 18
The Indiana Daily Student


Voter guide: US House of Representatives Indiana District 9 election


The Indiana Daily Student sent a list of questions to the candidates in elections in the region and state. Throughout the next week, we will be publishing the candidates’ responses.

Three candidates are running to be the U.S. representative for Indiana's 9th District.

Trey Hollingsworth (incumbent)

Hollingsworth has served as the District 9 representative since 2017. He is the founder of Hollingsworth Capital Partners, a multimillion-dollar real estate investment firm.

Hollingsworth did not respond to the IDS' questions.

Andy Ruff

Ruff, the democratic candidate, served as a Bloomington City Council member for 20 years and is a part-time country musician. He developed Indiana’s first Living Wage Ordinance.

Do you support a mask mandate on a national level?

The evidence is clear: wearing masks works. When combined with social distancing, it is the most effective weapon we have against a virus that has now killed well over 200,000 Americans. In that context, a federal mask mandate may sound like a no-brainer, but there are potential problems, not the least of which is the constitutionality of such a mandate. There are also enforcement issues to consider, as well as the potential for politicizing the wearing of masks even further. An alternative solution — and make no mistake, we must do something to encourage the wearing of masks — may be for Congress to instead attach conditions to federal funding that induces states to enact (and enforce) local mask mandates. 

Whichever policy angle is decided, the onus will be on our elected officials to set an example and demonstrate the type of non-partisan, science-guided leadership that Americans of all political persuasions can trust.

Read past IDS coverage on Ruff here.

What’s your top priority if elected?

For democracy to function properly we must end the corrupting influence that Big Money has on our elections and lawmaking. There is no better example of this problem than our current representative, Trey Hollingsworth. Rep. Hollingsworthis a mega-millionaire real estate developer who moved to our district four years ago specifically to buy a seat in Congress, which he succeeded in doing by flooding the airwaves with false attack ads and bogus claims of Hoosier ties. Since then, he’s ignored the people of IN09 while taking millions from D.C.lobbyists attached to Big Finance, and it shows in nearly every bill he’s sponsored (allowing payday lenders to charge predatory interest rates, for instance). 

That’s why my top priority on Day One in Congress will be to support HR 1, theanti-corruption, pro-democracy reform bill passed by the House in 2018 (a bill that Rep. Hollingsworth unsurprisingly voted against). Until we overturn Citizens United, increase election transparency, stop the revolving door of lobbyists and expand voting rights, we will continue to have ultra-wealthy men like Trey Hollingsworth running this country on behalf of their corporate donors. 

Do you support reallocating police funds to other services?

There is no doubting that we need to reimagine policing. That does not, of course, mean “defunding” police departments, as so many on the right like to claim. But it does mean using tax-payer dollars — money that is often spent on military-grade vehicles, weapons and body armor — and diverting it into under-funded public social services like mental health, housing and education. We also need to ensure police have the resources to provide implicit bias training for every officer in the department. By providing them with the help of better-funded social services and the proper training, we can help change the current culture and allow our officers to do their jobs effectively and with empathy.

Do you support legalizing marijuana?

Unequivocally. To continue to criminalize people because of a federal prohibition based on propaganda and misinformation is wrong and inhumane. But the current Democratic Party platform of simple decriminalization does not go far enough. It leaves the supply side illegal — the production and distribution — which creates social and health issues that far outweigh the risks of responsible cannabis use. It also prevents a state like Indiana, once a major hemp producer, from capturing much-needed tax revenue, while also depriving individuals the potential of an alternative medication.

Should the Senate wait until after the election to confirm Amy Coney Barrett?

This is not a partisan issue — well over half of Americans believe that the Senate should wait to fill Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s seat until after a new president has been elected.The level of hypocrisy displayed by Senate Republicans in pushing through the Amy Coney Barrett nomination is unconscionable.  

Unfortunately, it has become par for the course for a party that has decided that maintaining power — and this nomination is as much about suppressing the minority vote as it is reproductive rights and the future of the ACA — is more important than maintaining a healthy democracy. 

Thankfully, for our country, there are options available to Congress (i.e. court reform) that can be utilized to rectify this wrong, and if elected you can count on my full-throated advocacy of such measures.

What is the most important thing Congress should do to address climate change?

We are approaching the cusp of an era when climate change will be the defining treatthe world faces. Even now the changes are undeniable. Planet-scale, ecosystem-threatening change is causing trillions in environmental damage and wiping out entire species all over the world. That’s why we must commit now to saving and restoring our planet’s ecosystems by supporting policies and investment in environmental sustainability

This includes market incentives for green technologies and products; zero-emission and carbon-neutral policies for the government and military; protecting our public lands from fossil fuel production and further exploitation; fighting theattempts of fossil fuel companies to influence politics through political spending and lobbying; strengthening the Environmental Protection Agency; supportingrelief and rebuilding plans for disaster victims and climate refugees; all the while addressing with the closest attention the needs and grievances of minority and marginalized communities, who will be most affected by climate change.

What is your position on abortion rights?

I am pro-choice and would strongly oppose any federal legislative attempts to curb that freedom.

How will you address rising student debt? 

First, we need a Department of Education that follows its mission to promote education and learning, not one that fleeces its debtors for money they shouldn’t owe. The current system is simply not working. So far over 160,000 former students have applied for discharge under the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program (which Trump wants to repeal), but so far only 1 percent of forgiveness applicants have been approved!

Next, we need to give borrowers struggling to repay their loans a pathway out of debt. At the very least, that would mean allowing student loans to be discharged in bankruptcy — just like every other kind of debt.

As a final measure, we can give student debtors direct relief from their burdens, especially in the hardest cases, so that no one ever goes into permanent debt because of the choice to pursue an education again. 

Additionally, I support increased public funding for schools and colleges, helping to lower tuitionand funding for students to help them meet the costs. We need added protections against predatory educational institutions and student-lending practices. We need to simplify repayment programs and, ultimately, remove the federal government from the business of profiting off of student debt.

Do you support raising the minimum wage? If so, by how much?

As a Bloomington City Council member, I introduced the first municipal livingwage ordinance to be passed in the State of Indiana. I would support similar legislation on a federal level, but a $15 minimum wage alone is not enough. A person's value to society cannot be measured by hours on the clock and in many cases neither should their compensation. As the richest nation on Earth, it is within our power to guarantee a good standard of living for anyone willing to work and to provide assistance to those who for many reasons can't work, such as stay-at-home mothers who can't afford childcare and aging manual laborers with increasingly debilitating physical conditions. A better way of raising wages is to eliminate federal policies that punish unionization and collective bargaining and hold companies that stifle wages and workers rights accountable for their actions.

Anything else you want voters to know?

A few weeks ago it was revealed that of all 50 states, Indiana was the worst in thenation for decline in young voter registration. Less than half of the number of 18- and 19-year-olds are registered to vote in Indiana this year compared to 2016. That's bad for the future of policies important to young people, like student loan fairness and ageism in the workplace.

In this era of hyper-partisan politics where voter suppression and disenfranchisement is on the rise, it is easy to feel as though voting doesn't matter. But more important than whether or not your candidate wins is that your vote is counted. The more young people vote, the more the government pays attention to what young people want. This fall, don't just cast a vote for a person, cast it for yourself.

Tonya Millis

Millis is a Libertarian candidate who works as a real estate broker. She has experience in insurance and worked at St. Vincent Hospital in Indianapolis, according to her website.

Do you support a mask mandate on a national level?  

No. All across our country, businesses, patrons, parents and teachers are using best practices for safety as appropriate for their own situation. This has been a learning curve for everyone.  

What's your top priority if elected?  

My Roll-It-Back campaign is running against the three R's; there are too many Rules, Regulations and Runaway debt. The two-party system is broken.

Do you support reallocating police funds to other services?  

Every town and municipal body has a budget that should be balanced annually. It is up to the people's elected officials to decide how monies go to police, schools, etc. The federal government (Congress) should not dictate how each town should be run or how it spends its money. 

Do you support legalizing marijuana? 

Yes. Cannabis and marijuana should be decriminalized for adults as they are victimless crimes. If elected to Congress, I will be in favor of passing the MORE Act or a similar bill.

Should the Senate wait until the election to confirm Amy Coney Barrett? 

No, under the U.S. Constitution, the president nominates a candidate, and the Senate advises and consents. However, I do believe that when Obama was president, the Senate was wrong not to consider his nomination when a vacancy arose. 

What is the most important thing Congress should do to address climate change? 

From my perspective, people want clean air and a safe society for their families going well into the future. Congress should continue to inform the public of its findings and make recommendations, in general, while not infringing on the personal freedoms of each individual. On behalf of IN District 9, I will be a voice in Washington, D.C. 

What is your position on abortion rights?  

Personally, I am pro-life. As a constitutionalist and Libertarian, I think that Big Brother should stay out of little sister's business. 

How will you address rising student debt?  

That is a different question than college tuition. In this free country, individuals should have the right to choose their own path. Whether it be trade school, the military, in-person college, online classes or working at a family business, each person should decide for themselves. Congress has no business getting into people's personal finances. 

Do you support raising the minimum wage? If so, how much?  

No. As a Libertarian, I am in favor of free-market principles. 

Anything else you want voters to know? 

Yes. To learn more about my bio and the issues I care about, go to my website. There is also a link to my campaign Facebook.

The IDS voter guide includes candidates who are on the ballot in contested elections.

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