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Sunday, April 21
The Indiana Daily Student

city politics

Eric Doden focuses on small towns, rural areas in gubernatorial campaign

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Editors note: This is part of a series of stories covering the 2024 elections. Read the rest of the stories on our website.

For many of the candidates running to replace term-limited Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb, the campaign season kicked off last fall, with the seven other candidates announcing their intent to run between December 2022 and August 2023. For Republican gubernatorial candidate Eric Doden however, the race started three years earlier.  

Doden, a businessman from Fort Wayne, announced his campaign in June 2021. By July 2022, he had raised more than $1.4 million to support his bid.  

According to his LinkedIn, Doden has held various management and executive positions since he graduated from Hillsdale College in 1992. He also holds a law degree from Valparaiso University School of Law.  

Doden co-founded Domo Development Company, a residential and commercial development group, in 2012 and has served as the company’s principal for the last 12 years. He was also the CEO of Greater Fort Wayne Inc., an economic development organization that supports businesses in Fort Wayne and Allen County, Indiana.  

Former Indiana Gov. Mike Pence selected Doden to serve as president of the Indiana Economic Development Corporation in 2012, a public-private partnership charged with growing Indiana’s economy. In this role, he worked with the state’s secretary of commerce to develop the Regional Cities Initiative, a program that provided state funding to bring in new businesses and industries to Indiana.  

Holcomb and legislators phased out the Regional Cities Initiative program in 2019, when they did not include any funding for the program in the state budget. According to his campaign website, Doden would relaunch this program if elected.  

Doden also said in an email he would also create a program that supports economic development in Indiana small towns. According to his campaign website, the state would provide $100 million to small communities of 30,000 residents or less to revitalize their downtown areas under this proposed plan. 

“Small town Indiana needs the cities and Indianapolis to thrive, and our large cities need thriving rural communities to keep our state competitive as a whole,” Doden said in an email.  

Doden, who grew up in Butler and Auburn, Indiana, focused his campaign on efforts to support small towns and counties across the state. 

“I loved growing up in small towns in the Midwest,” Doden said in an email. “But even as a kid, and certainly later in college, I could see the struggles in these small communities as they lost population, their small businesses shut down, and buildings were left in disrepair.”  

Doden also released a proposal to improve public safety and physical infrastructure including sidewalk and road maintenance in Indianapolis. The proposal includes plans to create a partnership between the Indiana State Police and Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department to place more law enforcement officers in the city. His campaign website also states he would establish a review board of elected prosecuting attorneys to “create a system of accountability for rogue prosecutors.”  

“Indiana can and should be a top-five state in the country to live, work and do business in,” Doden said over email. “Hoosiers deserve a governor who can get the job done.”  

The gubernatorial candidate also released plans to decrease the number of Indiana children in foster care by creating the Zero Cost Adoption Fund. Under his proposal, money from this fund would be used to reimburse up-front adoption costs, provide intervention and counseling services for adoptive families as well as increase adoption tax credits. One of the desired outcomes of this plan is to make adoption a preferred alternative to abortion. On his campaign website, Doden describes himself as “100% pro-life.” 

Additionally, Doden released a plan to combat teacher shortages in Indiana, specifically in rural schools. His plan includes repealing the state income tax and providing income tax credits for K-12 teachers. Doden said his administration would also work with state-funded universities to lower tuition for teaching degrees. 

When asked if he would support legislation restricting the teaching of certain topics — such as HEA 1608, which prohibits teachers from teaching human sexuality to students in grades pre-kindergarten through third grade and HEA 1447, which allows community members to request books be banned from school libraries — Doden did not explicitly state if he would support similar legislation. Instead, he said in an email he would support school choice opportunities and that parents should know what their children are being taught. 

“Our children will be prepared to be students and our students will be prepared for work,” Doden said in an email. “By putting educational opportunity at the center of our agenda, we will get Indiana’s education system back on track again.”  

For more information on Doden’s proposed plans and priorities, visit his campaign website. 

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