TIPPECANOE COUNTY, Ind. (WLFI) - Ten candidates for state and local offices will share a debate stage beginning at 5:45 p.m. Tuesday at Lafayette Jefferson High School.
The candidates are campaigning for seats on the Tippecanoe County Council, as well as District 13 and District 25 seats in the Indiana House of Representatives. The event is hosted by the League of Women Voters.
Six candidates are running for three at-large seats on the Tippecanoe County Council. The crowded field is split between three Republicans and three Democrats.
Incumbent and businessman John Basham (R-At-large) says he's a big supporter of local law enforcement.
"That's why I voted for LIT, local income tax, and that helps put good officers on the street, men and women, the people in blue and brown deserve all the respect they can get."
Monica Casanova (D-At-large candidate), who works in immigration at a local non-profit, is campaigning to add more diversity to the council.
"I want the county council to be representative of the community it serves. Now, Tippecanoe County has a Latino population of 10%, yet we're not reflected in local government."
Margaret Hass (D-At-large candidate), a lecturer in higher education, would like to see more accessibility in local government.
"The last couple meetings have not actually been livestreamed, and especially in this pandemic situation, you're forcing people to choose between getting the information about their democracy and risking their health."
Former sheriff Barry Richard (R-At-large candidate) is focusing on quality of life and return on investment in the community.
"Not only in public safety and law enforcement, the infrastructure we have, the cost that we put into everything the county is going to be responsible for."
Small-business owner Susan Schechter (D-At-large candidate) hopes to create climate solutions and reform the criminal justice system.
"We can reduce those costs and improve, I think, the outcomes for our community and certainly for people who have gotten involved in that system."
Council president Kevin Underwood (R-At-large), a local farmer, wants to keep taxes low, as well as bolster infrastructure and public safety.
"Whether it be court costs, sheriff's, community corrections, etc., to make sure that those are all funded at a proper level so that people can be safe in their homes and their businesses and where they work and play."
Health care and education are the top issues shaping two area races for the Indiana Statehouse.
State Rep. Don Lehe (R-District 25) says he plans to build on his efforts to hold down health care costs.
"Some more openness and transparency in billing, trying to keep that under control, help consumers have a choice on where they get their health care and be more transparent on where the best prices may be."
His opponent, Alex Sabol (D-District 25 candidate), a local business consultant, says that not enough has been done to make quality health care accessible.
"Especially in the middle of a global health crisis, we need to have health care be affordable and accessible to everybody. That's one of the ways out of this, as well, is to make sure everyone has access to care."
Loretta Barnes (D-District 13 candidate), a Lebanon-based marketing manager, wants to reinvest money into public education that was set aside for charter and private schools.
"I think for the past 10 years, Indiana has kind of dropped the ball with public education, taking funding away, and I think we should pause some of our voucher programs."
State Rep. Sharon Negele (R-District 13) says rural schools are in need of expanded broadband, especially amid the pandemic.
"I think it's really staring us in the face now how critical this infrastructure is for all of our rural schools and all of our children, and then of course for all the people that have to work out of their home."