Would you want to be the next lieutenant governor and Indiana secretary of agriculture? Hear from two ladies who both want the job. Suzanne Crouch, the Republican candidate, and Christina Hale, the Democratic candidate, both want to be the next secretary of agriculture and rural development in Indiana.
They recently participated in a debate sponsored by the Indiana AgriInstitute, with other commodity groups and farm organizations co-sponsoring it, as well. Here are their answers to a few key questions.
Question: What are you looking forward to if you are the next lieutenant governor of Indiana?
Hale: I’m excited to have the chance to meet different people around the state. I would want to be accessible and work with people statewide. I’m committed to finding practical solutions for people. I would have a duty to help shape the conversation about food.
Crouch: I love being a public servant. I get it! I would work hard to help government at various levels work and collaborate together. The opportunity I would have to help move ag forward is exciting.
Question: Financially strapped towns and cities have looked to forced annexation to increase their tax base. Farmers don’t like the idea of being forced to pay taxes without having a voice in it. What is your view here?
Crouch: Local government needs to look at how to partner with people here to the extent that it can. We need to see more collaboration here to the extent that it is possible. It’s important to have a more reasonable approach. But it’s also important [for local government] to realize that people have rights, and you just can’t come in and take their rights away. People who might be affected by annexation need to let their legislators know their feelings. Based on my years in the Legislature, I don’t think people reach out nearly enough to let their legislators know how they feel.
Hale: Rural economic development is very difficult. What we can do in urban areas is often different than what we can do in rural areas. Then when people in rural areas are under annexation, it becomes very emotional. [During this process] we have to address the rights of the individual.
Question: How can we keep bright, talented youths in Indiana?
Hale: First, we have to recognize how lucky we are to have the kinds of kids we have in our 4-H and FFA programs here. Yes, it can be very difficult to get them to stay. Maybe we’re not doing enough. We have to do something. What I believe we have to do is find creative ways to keep them here in Indiana!
Crouch: To keep our young people here, we need to provide jobs. At the same time, we need to continue to support and promote FFA. It’s not just all about [farming]. One of the biggest programs in the state is right here in Beech Grove. We need to reach out to young people early and sell them on the benefits of agriculture.
EXCITED TO SERVE: Suzanne Crouch (left) says she looks forward to the opportunity to serve Indiana’s people if elected. Christina Hale (below) says she would welcome the chance to tackle tough challenges to help the state's agriculture industry grow.