Incumbent faces challenge for District 69 seat

Two Seymour residents are seeking the GOP nomination for the State House District 69 seat in the May 3 primary election.

Incumbent Jim Lucas, the owner of a small, local business, faces a challenge from Nancy Franke, a Lutheran school teacher.

The Democrats have no candidate on the ballot for the office at this time.

Lucas hopes to be elected to his third term, after completing his fourth year as a state representative. He has made headlines by authoring legislation protecting gun ownership rights and proposing to take the state out of the business of issuing marriage licenses.

“I love serving the public and really enjoy politics,” he said. “It is very gratifying talking to people and being able to address their issues, working with others and being involved in the process that affects people’s everyday lives.”

Franke is promoting major education reforms as part of her campaign bid. Having served as a school board trustee for Seymour Community School Corp., she said she now feels she can make a greater difference by being elected to state office.

“With my experience, I have learned we have many issues to tackle, obviously with education, but also with so much more which affect our communities,” she said. “After several people asked me to consider a run for state legislator, I realized this may be the area where I can be most proactive for the people of our communities.”

Franke said she wants to help unite people in the district and the state by building positive relationships with members of both political parties.

“I have learned the value of reaching across the aisle and truly listening to a different perspective,” she said. “Sometimes, we need to value the input of others as we find common ground necessary in making decisions.”

Although many view politics as divisive, Lucas said he doesn’t see that to be true at the state and local level.

“I believe this is an issue found primarily at the federal level of politics,” he said. “State and local politics are still very civil and thankfully, there is a lot of bipartisan work being completed at these levels.”

Lucas said the most important job of a legislator is creating and passing laws that abide by and protect people’s Constitutional rights.

“The issues that I feel are most important are protecting the rights of the individual and seeing that government remains efficient and protective of the people, not harmful to the people,” he said.

As an educator, Franke said she believes there has been a shift toward privatization of schools, which she said has contributed to the demise of education.

“As much as privatization has a place in our state, I am a firm believer that our public schools are the backbone of our communities,” she said. “We need to work on legislation which will help strengthen our community schools which in turn works for a stronger community and enhances our economy.”

Franke said she believes too much of taxpayers dollars have been wasted through the years on ISTEP testing, charter schools and the need for schools to hire additional administration personnel because of state mandates.

“We need to move appropriate legislation forward which will bring about the correct reforms to help all our Hoosier students to succeed in the classroom as well as create responsible spending of taxpayer dollars,” she said.

Since more than half of the state’s budget is designated for K-12 education, Lucas said it’s vital for schools to spend money wisely and efficiently. But that isn’t always happening, he added.

“Currently, Indiana only has 58 percent of every dollar making it to the classroom and we are last in the nation with teachers as a percentage of total school staff,” Lucas said. “To address this issue, legislators recently passed bills encouraging more teachers to remain in the classroom and to address teacher recruitment and retention.”

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January Rutherford is a reporter for The (Seymour) Tribune. She can be reached at jrutherford@tribtown.com or 812-523-7069.