In the general election on Nov. 6, Democrat incumbent State Rep. Scott
Pelath will defend his 9th District seat against Republican Dan Granquist.
Early voting began on Oct. 9.
The Chesterton Tribune invited both to respond to candidate
The Tribune set word limits and reserved the right to edit for
The re-districting following the 2010 census placed portions of the 9th
Indiana House District in Duneland.
(1) Age, place, occupation.
Pelath: Age: 42. Place of Residence: Michigan City. Occupation: Human
Resources Director, Swanson Center.
Granquist: 59, Coolspring Township in LaPorte County, attorney.
(2) To Pelath: How many terms have you served and why are you seeking
re-election? (75 words) Since 1998, I have fought to improve the lives
of my constituents through common sense, practical solutions, and mainstream
values. Over the past several years, our state government has become more
ideological and less concerned for our middle class. I am battling to turn
our focus away from extreme ideas and back toward rewarding hard work and
ensuring equality of opportunity for our kids.
To Granquist: Why are you seeking election to this office? (75 words)
Thanks to Republican leadership, we are in a period of growth and
opportunity. Indiana is the leading state in the North. I love this state
and have the desire, experience and understanding to protect and support the
momentum that has been started by our leaders. I can meet this challenge by
providing good leadership and right ideas and help Indiana continue to be
one of the strongest state economies in America and attract jobs!
(3) To Pelath: Describe your accomplishments in office. (75 words) When
your insurance company accountants deny you needed health coverage, you can
now appeal their decision to actual doctors. That's because of legislation I
authored and passed. One day, we will have less congestion on I-94 due to my
sponsorship of the Illiana Expressway. I am also deeply proud of my
sponsorship of the Great Lakes Water Use Compact, which will preserve Lake
Michigan and its sister lakes for future generations.
To Granquist: Describe your qualifications for office (75 words) My
experience as a small business owner and an attorney with three decades of
experience helping entrepreneurs set up and start their businesses will
guide me in making decisions that will create an environment that encourages
job growth. I am helping the people in our community build businesses to
provide jobs and am working with community groups and business leaders to
provide information and education to those interested in starting
(4) Differentiate yourself from your opponent and indicate why you believe
yourself a better candidate. (75 words)
Pelath: This is not about personalities; it is about balance. Since
1966, Indiana has had two kinds of government: government in which the
Republicans control everything, and government in which both parties share
power. In this state, the latter is less radical and more inclusive.
Granquist: Having represented and advised many small businesses over the
years, and having owned small businesses myself, I understand the needs of
business owners. The nation’s largest small-business advocacy group, the
National Federation of Independent Businesses, has endorsed me. I will show
up for work and be a strong voice for job development.
(5) What are the key issues in the race? (100 words)
Pelath: The working middle class is not sharing in our state's economic
fortunes. The prevailing approach in Indianapolis has been to serve
investors and corporations while ignoring our need for a stable force of
workers who can buy things. Our state demands an alternative economic vision
that values education, worker training, and wage growth as essential for
Granquist: Sound economic development strategies that will promote job
creation and expansion and encourage free enterprise and entrepreneurship
for all workers at all levels of the work force.
Sound educational plans that will prepare all students to become responsible
citizens and get jobs, reward quality teachers who inspire students, and
give parents the opportunity to choose the best education for their
Sound fiscal policies that will maintain a balanced budget and reduce
Sound social policies that will strengthen families and minimize government
influence, protect the sanctity of life, and protect marriage between a man
and a woman.
(6) What are your views on the best uses of the current state budget
surplus? (100 words)
Pelath: Gov. Daniels primarily built the current budget surplus by
supplanting traditional state obligations with federal stimulus dollars, by
withholding school appropriations, and by “discovering” missing revenues. It
was one part conservative (but sometimes callous) stewardship, one part
timing and presentation, and one part mistake.
I have always believed in maintaining a reasonable surplus to hedge against
future revenue shortfalls. But many of the school cuts turned out to be
unnecessary, and dollars should be restored. Secondly, many people who often
are overlooked—like senior citizens needing nursing care and the permanently
disabled—have been adversely affected by past cuts. We should do better by
Granquist: The state received more revenue and spent less than was
anticipated in the budget, yielding our surplus. The best uses would be to
fund pension liabilities to the fullest extent possible, keep some as a
reserve in support of reducing taxes, and provide funds to fire and police
departments for acquisition of needed equipment. For example, I know some
volunteer fire departments are in serious need of fire trucks and other
life- and property-saving equipment.
(7) Do you consider the state’s school-funding formula—based on a
calculation of “average daily membership” and “free or reduced
lunches”—fair? Why or why not? If not, how would you like to see it changed?
Pelath: The distribution of school dollars used to be a compromise
between growing schools needing more teachers and schools with lots of
"at-risk" kids and higher costs. The current legislature has broken that
compromise to benefit the most rapidly growing schools around Indianapolis.
The old compromise must be restored. Our state taxes are no longer funding
education programs here but instead in Central Indiana. This region's tax
dollars should fund education basics in the region.
Granquist: School funding involves a fairly complex formula. In an
attempt to be fair, it takes into account many factors. It is subject to the
vicissitudes of legislative compromise. Since it is passed by legislators
from all around the state, by definition it could be considered fair.
Funding should reasonably include a factor based on the number of students.
The formula could be improved by establishing state guidelines more
appropriate than federal standards.
(8) In January 2010, the state cut the Duneland School Corporation’s General
Fund by 4.56 percent or $1,569,219. How would you propose restoring that
funding? (75 words)
Pelath: I have aggressively opposed school cuts from the beginning,
including the ones that have hit Duneland Schools. The next governor can
help by restoring $300 million in appropriations that the current
administration refused to release to classrooms. Going forward, we need to
reinstate principles of fairness and balance to the statewide distribution
of dollars to school corporations.