Indiana’s House District 22 has received plenty of attention and is one of the most contested political races this year. Several letters to the editor and social media comments have been generated.
But less than a month from now, it will be decided.
Curt Nisly, Republican; David Kolbe, Democrat; and Michael Stinfer, a registered Republican running as an Independent, are the three candidates seeking the House District 22 seat. Nisly defeated incumbent Rebecca Kubacki in the May primary by a large margin. Kolbe was the only candidate to file as a Democrat and was uncontested in the primary and Stinfer’s name was added to the ballot after the primary.
Nisly lives in Jackson Township in Elkhart County, south of Goshen. He is a small business owner and has owned and operated C-Tech Solutions Inc. for seven years. He is married to Mary and they have four children.
Kolbe has been an attorney in Warsaw for more than 32 years and has served in the past as the prosecuting attorney for Kosciusko County. He and his wife, Kathy, live south of Warsaw and have seven children.
Stinfer is an independent contractor, is developing a small business venture and is working on a master’s degree in orthopedic regulatory at Grace College. He is a lifelong resident of Warsaw and has served with the U.S. Marine Corps and Indiana Army National Guard.
House District 22 includes parts of Elkhart and Kosciusko counties.
Each candidate was asked the same two questions and following are their responses:
1. What are two critical issues facing District 22 and how do you intend to address those issues?
Nisly: “One of the most critical issues facing District 22 is Obamacare and the medical device tax. I recently met with the vice president for global government affairs from Zimmer to learn how this tax is negatively impacting the district. Although this is a federal issue, I intend to stay informed and work with leadership at the state level to see how the damage from this tax can be eliminated or minimized. As I have traveled around the district, there is a common theme from teachers, firemen and small business owners. It is the issue of excessive regulation. In order for businesses, charities and individuals in the district to flourish, we must shrink the negative impact of government regulation.”
Kolbe: “The first critical issue is good jobs. We need to create and maintain an environment which encourages business location and development. This means local governments need to have sufficient resources to develop and maintain infrastructures. I will support legislation that keeps local governments properly funded and oppose the elimination of the business equipment tax unless those who favor phase out and elimination can devise an alternative source of funding. Further, we need to create and maintain an environment for businesses to offer employees a living wage with benefits. Stable employment benefits large companies, local businesses, communities and families. The second issue is education. We need to ensure schools are sufficiently funded such that we have all available resources to educate our children. I will support legislation that properly funds schools and I am opposed to the voucher program which takes monies from schools.”
Stinfer: “Two critical issues facing District 22 we will need to address are education and strengthening our middle class. Both have been falling to the wayside for far too long. I’ve spoken to educators who work hours on end teaching our young Hoosiers and it’s time we get the bureaucracy out of our school systems. We need to assess what is truly working and what is not. We need to truly take care of our learners and teachers who mold them. I will focus on Indy policy which develops stronger teacher-parent relationships, so at the local level parents will have a solid understanding when making decisions for their child’s education. I will also be a voice that thinks outside the box and stands against educational agendas and rigged policy. To strengthen our middle class we must squash the party lines and communicate with logic and facts in order to restore the once attainable American dream. I feel we are only making policy for the ‘now’ and to truly set Hoosiers up for success we must implement policy addressing the rising cost of college tuition, develop policy which keeps the housing marking growing while affordable and create better markets for employers (specifically small business owners) to shop for lower premiums for their workers in order to keep their health care costs down. We need to at least look at options to better prepare future generations of Hoosiers to have some form of savings account they could use toward health care while at the same time being a nest egg for their American dream.”
2. In 150 words or less, briefly explain how you feel you can improve representation for District 22.
Nisly: “The job of a state representative is to represent the people. One of the best ways to improve representation for District 22 is to know people of the district. I began going door-to-door in early March, and I have visited residents in their homes in every precinct in the district. My door-to-door work continues. From these visits, I know how the people of District 22 live. Voters have shared with me their goals and their concerns.”
Kolbe: “I have been an attorney and prosecutor for a combined 33 years. During that time I have represented countless clients and constituents. I know what it means to fight for the best interests of my constituents. I know what good legislation looks like and how it works at ground level. Furthermore, I am not driven by extreme ideology, left or right. I am a problem solver and I have spent my whole career working with many people in government to create solutions. I know how to identify problems, help create good legislation and I will work with my colleagues in doing so.”
Stinfer: “I believe it is a very simple process of what I would call servant leadership. I don’t think we have a Democrat or Republican problem with the current political nonsense. We have a leadership problem. There are not enough willing average citizens who seek to serve but rather people who think they are above their master and want to rule or believe they are owed something. I will work to build relationships to unite us as one and work toward common goals which work for all Hoosiers. This will be done by separating party lines, getting rid of agendas and being leaders who can stand with courage even when we are weak and don’t feel it is in our best interests.”
3. A lack of funding and harsh winters have left Kosciusko County roads in bad shape with limited resources for repairing them. A wheel tax was recently adopted, but what do you plan to do to ensure that your district has the proper funds to maintains its roadways?
Stinfer: “First and foremost I will be there shoulder to shoulder in the trenches with each local government in the district. I am all about small government and the power staying within the local arena but know I will be right there whenever needed even though I will be based in Indy. I will be a strong voice to fight for local governments and our tiff districts. The Governor said business property tax was gone but he also said he was going to replace that lost revenue. If we need to reallocate in order to keep that promise then I will help the Governor complete that. I will not be for placing any burden on Hoosier households. I also will stand against this regionalization some of us are seeing in Indianapolis. One thing that the Marine Corps and Army Ranger leadership has taught me over the last 15 years of honorable service is that you do as I do and not as I say. Indianapolis is not an exception and doesn’t get special treatment while others take a hit. Keeping the state moving forward will take being proactive not only with roadways but keeping everyone on the same page in the playbook. One final note-if elected, I will champion cutting the pork in order for local governments to maximize efficiency while keeping Hoosier dollars in their households.”
Nisly: “The best way to make sure there are adequate funds available for roadways is to eliminate wasteful spending in other areas. The legislature must also be vigilant about not creating new programs that we can’t afford, such as pre-kindergarten.”
Kolbe: “Maintaining local transportation infrastructures is critical. Both
Kosciusko and Elkhart Counties have instituted a wheel tax to provide more
transportation funding. I would also consider allowing counties to decide
whether to impose a food and beverage tax to bring in further revenues. This
additional source of revenue may not be necessary if the business equipment
tax remains viable for local governments, as I discussed earlier, unless
alternative funding sources are available. Senator Kenley, the Republican
Chair of the Appropriations Committee, as late as September 16, 2014,
alluded to this as well. Distributions to local governments are critical to
them maintaining transportation infrastructures.”