WK Chamber Executive Director Mark Dobson moderated the event, which was an opportunity for the public to get to know the candidates and hear where they stand on important issues. (See related article)
Attendees were asked to submit questions on forms that were made available for each candidate. Questions largely went to Congressional candidates Brendan Mullen (D), District 2; and Kevin Boyd (D), District 3.
Almost immediately, Mullen and Boyd were asked what their positions are on the repeal of the medical device tax.
Mullen was the first to speak noting, “ … $135 million will be sucked out of the community because of that tax … There are extraordinarily wrong pieces of legislation in Obamacare.” The congressional candidate added, “I want to repeal it and have the understanding that the orthopedic revenue is an epicenter. We need to get it repealed yesterday.”
Later, Mullen was asked if he would support a repeal of Obamacare or keep it moving forward. He responded, “Within the law there are some good pieces. Seventeen point 6 million children with pre-existing conditions are now covered (with health insurance). We need to keep the good and delete the bad.”
Boyd, however, was not as certain as Mullen on the medical tax device question saying, “Whether you agree or not, it (Obamacare) has funding formulas to pay for things. We all have to give something.” He continued, “I will vote for repeal if we find better ways to fund it … Right now, I think given the structures that have been put together, it does something we haven’t done in the federal government: it proposes programs and ways to fund them. I know it’s an unpopular stance in this area, but right now I don’t have a better solution.”
Although the question was asked of the Congressional candidates, District 22 State Representative Rebecca Kubacki (R) asked if she could also address the question and said, “This medical device tax is going to kill our community … putting people out of work is what will happen. We all have to give something, but we’re not giving away our jobs.”
Congressional candidates were also asked where they stand on abortion and the 2nd Amendment right to bear arms. Mullen declared he is a devout Catholic and pro-life candidate and further said, “Don’t take my guns. I’m pro-2nd Amendment.”
Boyd’s responses were not as cut and dried. He began, “As a clergyman I am personally pro-life, but as a pastor I’ve struggled with people with people who have dealt with very tough issues and I believe in freedom to allow people to make their own morale choices.” He said, however, he supports the 2nd Amendment “in its entirety.”
On a local level, Kosciusko County Treasurer Sue Ann Mitchell and Kosciusko County Surveyor Richard Kemper were asked their thoughts on the Shepherd-Kernan report that suggests those offices be appointed by local government rather than be elected. Kemper said he had no problem with the surveyor’s job being appointed. “Personally, I always thought it curious that it’s an elected position.”
Mitchell did not disagree with Kemper saying that the jobs operate strictly by rules set by the state. “Dick is right, but giving the people the choice is important,” she said.
County commissioners Ron Truex and Brad Jackson also sounded off on the Shepherd-Kernan report which suggests one county executive in place of a board. Truex said, “I firmly believe local government is the best government. We have to vote with the people sitting right there. You lose that in Indy and definitely in Washington, D.C. We have to make all areas of government work … but with one county executive you would lose the discussion and compromise of three individuals. It’s important to maintain the board.”
Jackson agreed with Truex adding, “One big mistake was making state legislators full-time because they tend to become part of the problem. We don’t do this for the money.” On the issue of appointing the county treasurer, however, Jackson said he agrees with the report noting the office requires a level of education.
In one of the most memorable moments of the night, a clearly frustrated Kubacki fired a message clearly in rebuttal to Mullen’s closing remarks. The Congressional hopeful said, “Democrats have a heart for the poor, the weak and those in need. That’s why I’m a Democrat. I believe that party is doing (those things) the best.”
When Kubacki was afforded the microphone she retorted, “I’m proud to be a Republican and I’m sick and tired of being labeled as a party that doesn’t care! Don’t be ashamed to be a Republican and don’t compromise on what we believe.”
Candidates taking part in the Meet the Candidates event and question and answer period were:
District 2 U.S. Representative – Brendan Mullen (D)
District 3 U.S. Representative – Kevin Boyd (D)
District 22 State Representative Rebecca Kubacki (R) and John Bonitati (D)
District 12 Indiana State Senator – Carlin Yoder (R)
Indiana Attorney General – Kay Fleming (D)
Kosciusko County Treasurer – Sue Ann Mitchell
Kosciusko County Commissioners – Ron Truex and Brad Jackson
Kosciusko County Council at-large – Jonathan Fussle (R) and Robert Sanders
Kosciusko County Surveyor – Richard Kemper