House District 73 candidates put focus on agriculture issues

A Salem Republican asking voters to return him to the Indiana House of Representatives for a fourth two-year term faces a challenge from a familiar opponent in the Nov. 8 general election.

Pharmacist Steve Davisson holds the District 73 seat by virtue of his win against Democrat Douglas Leatherbury, a Salem attorney, in 2014. Davisson won that contest by a 11,027 to 4,679 margin.

The district includes the western part of Brownstown Township along with Carr, Driftwood, Grassy Fork and Owen townships in Jackson County.

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The sprawling district also includes all of Washington County and parts of Clark, Harrison, Lawrence and Orange counties.

Leatherbury said if he turns the table on Davisson and wins, he plans to focus on revitalizing the agriculture infrastructure in southern Indiana and protecting public education.

“It has been recognized that the family farm is the most efficient producer of food and fiber for the nation and the best protector of our soil, air and water,” he said.

“Our state and national security and economy rest upon the above four major pillars: first, public education; second, sustainable agriculture; third, sustainable industrial infrastructure; and fourth, sustainable wages for working families,” he said. “I will work hard to advocate the restoration of these four critical pillars of our national economy.”

Davisson said he plans to continue to work to reduce the red tape and regulations on agricultural businesses and make sure they continue to be an important priority for Indiana’s economy.

“Economic development tools are also important for developing our rural communities and bringing new jobs and investments, and we have to continue developing those tools,” he said. “Supporting our rural schools is also a priority as we seek to find ways to help schools with decreasing student populations.”

Leatherbury said he would work to stop the continued expansion of vouchers to charter schools; restore funding to public schools; drastically cut the number of tests that students are required to take; give teachers a voice in developing a test they can use in their classrooms; and stop the assault on free student lunches for children in need.

Davisson said the district has several challenges, including recruiting businesses with good-paying jobs and retaining the jobs that are already here through education and training.

“The availability of a skilled and educated workforce is important to attract these jobs,” he said. “The substance abuse issues our communities face dilute that workforce and create economic and social issues.”

Leatherbury said he would work diligently to respond to the many job and economic issues facing southern Indiana.

“My motto as an attorney has been, ‘I never close,’ and the same will go for my work as a state representative,” he said.

Davisson said his experience in the legislature helps him understand how to get legislation passed.

“I have built relationships with legislators on both sides of the aisle and advocacy groups to be effective in getting solutions to problems facing our communities and our state,” he said. “I am always available to listen and willing to help or guide people to the right resources.”

Steve Davisson

Name: Steve Davisson

Party: Republican

Age: 58

Residence: Salem

Occupation: Pharmacist/small business owner

Family: Wife, Michelle; five children; and four grandchildren

Political experience: “I have spent the past six years serving the 73rd District as representative in the Indiana General Assembly and serve on the House Public Health Committee and the Ways and Means Committee.”

Douglas Leatherbury

Name: Douglas C. Leatherbury

Party: Democrat

Residence: Salem

Occupation: Attorney, retired public school teacher and owner of a 355-acre farm

Family: Two daughters, Suzanne and Whitney; and a son, Clarence B. Leatherbury

Political experience: Earned a Doctor of Jurisprudence in 1968 and to date has given legal counsel in more than 6,000 cases. He has been elected prosecutor and has held several community positions, such as public defender, county chairman and precinct committeeman. He is the current Washington County Democratic chairman and Ninth District Democratic treasurer.

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Aubrey Woods is editor of The (Seymour) Tribune. He can be reached at awoods@tribtown.com or 812-523-7051.