A third Lawrence County resident has announced a desire to fill the Indiana State Senate District 44 seat.
Bedford native Linda Henderson is the first Democrat on the ballot. On the Republican side, Eric Koch and Josh Anderson, both of Bedford, will battle it out in the May 3 primary election.
District 44 covers Brown and Lawrence counties and portions of Bartholomew, Jackson and Monroe counties.
Republican Brent Steele currently holds the District 44 seat, but the Bedford attorney announced in the summer of 2015 that this would be his final year as a state senator.
“I am running for the state Senate because families in Indiana deserve someone who will help them break their personal glass ceiling,” said Henderson, 54. “Whether it’s preschool for our kids or finding new ways for adults to access post-secondary education, greater opportunities for our families will lead to a stronger economy and stronger communities.”
Henderson is no stranger to politics. From 1992 to 1994, she represented District 65 in the Indiana House of Representatives. At the time, that covered the western part of Jackson County along with Lawrence and Brown counties.
“I’ve always been interested in what’s going on in the state and was interested in working with Evan Bayh. He was governor at the time,” Henderson said. “I thought I would stick my toe in and was successful.”
She pioneered the Community Learning Centers concept, which provides post-secondary education opportunities to nontraditional and traditional students in their own communities. Today, there are nearly 50 Community Learning Centers in the state.
Since leaving the Legislature, she said she has worked on and managed several election campaigns and been involved with committees.
Issues such as education and infrastructure prompted her to run for the Senate seat.
“As I travel and work with people from all walks of life in this district, it is all too clear that the Indiana Legislature has failed to focus on the priority needs of families, schools, local communities and our region,” Henderson said. “It’s imperative we work together — here and in Indianapolis — to shift focus back to what matters so we can put our families and communities on strong footing for the future.”
Education is one of her passions because her current job is community relations specialist for the Indiana University School of Public Health. She also is an adjunct instructor for Ivy Tech Community College in Bloomington.
Infrastructure also is important to her. As a state representative, she was the vice chairwoman of roads and transportation.
“I don’t understand how we’ve let it get this bad,” she said of roads, which she described as “neglectful.”
Henderson also said she is concerned about the drug issue in the area. She said she wants to develop prevention strategies, including working with kids at an early age so they don’t experiment with drugs in the first place.
“I’m very concerned about the meth and heroin problem in Jackson and Lawrence counties and trying to get a handle on the issue,” she said.
Throughout the years, Henderson has worked for the Indiana Youth Institute, Purdue University’s Community Systemwide Response initiative and the Indiana Prevention Resource Center, where she assisted communities with alcohol and drug prevention initiatives.
One of her previous jobs was service coordinator with Res-Care Inc., serving four group homes for developmentally disabled adults.
Henderson also has spent time on a number of initiatives in her home county and surrounding communities. They include Safe Night in Lawrence County, which promotes a drug-free community; Community Learning Centers, which focuses on workforce development; Families Forever Inc., which supports families in Lawrence County; and Lawrence County Domestic Violence Coalition. She also collaborated with the faith community in the creation of the Marriage and Family Alliance.
She also has served on a number of Lawrence County nonprofit boards, including Girl Scouts and Lawrence County Fair Board. She currently serves on the Lawrence County Public Defender Board and Families Forever Inc.
Name: Linda Henderson
Education: Bedford North Lawrence High School (1978); Indiana University (bachelor’s degree, 1982; master’s degree, 1985)
Occupation: Community relations specialist for the Indiana University School of Public Health; adjunct instructor for Ivy Tech Community College in Bloomington