Democratic candidates Dr. Woody Myers and Jonathan Weinzapfel visited Bloomington on Sunday evening to promote their campaigns.
Myers is running for governor of Indiana against incumbent Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb and Libertarian candidate Donald Rainwater. Weinzapfel is running for attorney general against Republican Todd Rokita. About 50 people wearing masks gathered at City Hall on Morton Street to listen to Myers, Weinzapfel and other Democratic leaders. The two candidates spoke about the need for a better statewide COVID-19 response and improved criminal justice and public education systems.
Weinzapfel said many Democrats are angry and feel that much is at stake in this election.
“If you’re like me, you feel like the heart and soul of this country is torn apart,” Weinzapfel said.
He said he supports the Affordable Care Act and wants to protect Hoosier families, especially the millions of people who have preexisting conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes or a positive case of the coronavirus.
Linda Lawson, Myers’ pick for lieutenant governor, said at the rally that Holcomb hasn’t done enough to protect Hoosiers against the spread of COVID-19. She said his delayed response led to many unnecessary deaths, and she wants someone who understands disease as governor.
Myers is a physician and was the Indiana state health commissioner during the AIDS crisis in the 1980s. He said the state has not followed science in its response to the coronavirus. President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence’s responses have been ill-informed and dangerous, Myers said.
“It’s very clear they’re not taking this seriously,” he said. “It’s very clear that they want to use a new adviser’s illogical, ill-informed recommendation about herd immunity to say to all of us, ‘We just have to get through it. We just have to get infected, and some of us, more of us, many of us are just going to have to die.’ That is wrong.”
Myers called Holcomb’s mask mandate a “mask suggestion” and said he would implement a mandate with consequences for not wearing one. He didn’t say what those consequences might be.
Lawson, who was the first female police officer at the Hammond Police Department, said she knows firsthand what needs to change in the criminal justice system. Lawson said she supports community policing, a strategy of policing that involves building ties with community members.
“It’s really difficult if you don’t know your community and you’re not invested in that community,” Lawson said. “If you know your community, you feel empathy and you feel trust.”
Myers and Weinzapfel said they support legalizing marijuana and decriminalizing minor possession charges. Weinzapfel said he thinks it should be legalized and taxed, and that money should go toward public education.
Myers said K-12 public education must be protected. He said he wants to raise teachers’ salaries.
Lawson, who also served on the Hammond School Board, said she’s tired of paying for charter school vouchers for schools that don’t take care of the most vulnerable children. She said this is the result of gerrymandering and people who don’t believe in public schools.
“It’s depleted the resources of public education in the state of Indiana, which has decimated the advantages and the kinds of things that kids in public ed deserve but are not getting anymore,” Lawson said.
Myers said it’s important that Indiana do more to combat climate change. He said the state should make more use of solar and wind energy, and he wants to ensure the water is clean.
Ed Robertson, a 76-year-old Bloomington resident and retired IU Department of Computer Science faculty member, attended the rally wearing a mask in support of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris and holding a donkey-shaped sign that read, “Vote Democrat.” Robertson said he doesn’t think all the changes the candidates proposed will go through, but he said just having more Democratic leaders would be a big improvement.
“All the things I’m concerned about — climate, criminal justice, social justice, homelessness, health care — the only way I can address all of them is by supporting Democrats,” Robertson said.
Robertson also said he would appreciate having a physician as governor because he wants someone who bases their decisions on science.