I recently had the opportunity to speak with gubernatorial candidate John Gregg. A lifelong resident of Indiana, Gregg is running for governor because he believes Indiana “needs leadership that can unite us, not divide us.” He believes that he has the ability to bring people together to work for the common good. If elected, he wants to focus on creating jobs, growing Indiana’s young technology industry, and bringing advanced manufacturing to the state. He does not want to govern on social issues. During our conversation, Gregg addressed many issues that are currently facing Indiana and how he plans to address them if he is elected. I enjoyed hearing about his goals and plans for the state, and I look forward to hearing more about these and how he plans to implement them as the election progresses.
Gregg began by discussing critical issues that he feels are not often talked about during the election. He stressed the importance of encouraging cooperation between state and local governments. He believes there is currently war on local government, and he wishes to stop it in order to allow the state and local governments to work together to bring people to Indiana. Mr. Gregg also acknowledged the importance of cooperation between the state and local governments in regard to crime. He believes the state should provide local governments with more resources as needed to fight crime.
Education has been a salient issue in this election, and Gregg shared his plans for education in Indiana. Mr. Gregg wants to include teachers in all of his changes to education and said that he intends to consult often with Glenda Ritz, the current superintendent of public instruction. One issue that he finds most important is early childhood education. He believes that having early education is necessary in today’s world. In regard to standardized testing, Gregg noted that the system is flawed. He iterated his belief in the ineffectiveness of testing one year and not having the scores until the next year. He does support some performance based funding in order to keep schools accountable, but he wants to talk with teachers in order to make testing effective and beneficial.
One issue he discussed that really affects me is the gender wage gap, the difference in income between men and women. As of 2014, Indiana has the eleventh largest gender wage gap in the nation. This is concerning to me, not only because I will be working soon, but also because having a large wage gap is bad for Indiana’s economic growth. Mr. Gregg stated that the gender wage gap is a problem that needs to be addressed in Indiana. He believes the most important step in eliminating the gap is to make people aware of the problem and to express to them that it is a problem that affects them. If he becomes governor, he plans on performing a review to ensure that there is gender equality within the state government. He hopes that this would then spread into businesses throughout the state.
Gregg has several ideas when it comes to improving the state’s economy. He asserted that the most important step in growing the economy is to “create an environment that is welcoming.” He wants to ensure that Indiana is a state that welcomes businesses and allows them to flourish. One step he believes the state needs to take in order to accomplish this is to increase the state’s capital. He wants more capital to be available in Indiana so business owners do not have to go to other states for investments. He also discussed the importance of creating a long term plan to improve the state’s infrastructure. Having a good infrastructure is vital to the state’s economy, and Gregg expressed concern about the current infrastructure. He alleged that the state is about 800 million dollars short on funding to just maintain the current infrastructure. He also cited that roughly ten percent of the state lacks access to cell phone coverage and a slightly higher number of people lack access to high speed Internet.
When asked about gun control, Gregg stated that he is a responsible gun owner. He owns guns, enjoys hunting, and believes that people have the right to own guns. He notes,however, the importance of using guns safely. He thinks it is important not to give convicted felons or those who are mentally ill access to guns, but he believes this is an issue for the federal government to handle.
Gregg supports allowing medical marijuana. He is currently looking at and considering the possibility of decriminalization of or lesser penalties for crimes related to marijuana, but he does not support the legalization of marijuana.
In spring of 2015, a religious freedom restoration act (RFRA) was passed in Indiana, and debate over RFRA and LGBT rights followed. In regard to RFRA, Gregg wants it to be repealed. He also wants to ensure that the LGBT community is given protection under Indiana’s civil rights statute.*
Gerrymandering, or the manipulating of legislative boundaries in order to benefit a specific group during redistricting, is a problem throughout the nation. Governors do not have much to do with gerrymandering as the state legislatures draw the districts, yet Gregg plans to speak out against gerrymandering.
Throughout this article, I have aimed to present my interview with Mr. Gregg in an accurate and unbiased light. I hope that I have chosen relevant topics that will help to inform voters. During our discussion, some of Mr. Gregg’s answers were a bit general, and I look forward to hearing more specifics of how he will implement his ideas as his campaign progresses. I really appreciate Mr. Gregg’s time, and I had a great experience talking with him. He seems to genuinely want to make Indiana a better state.
*A Religious Freedom Restoration Act was passed in Indiana in the spring of 2015, and the act caused much controversy throughout the state and country. The act states, “a state or local government action may not substantially burden a person’s right to the exercise of religion unless it is demonstrated that applying the burden to the person’s exercise of religion is: (1) essential to further a compelling governmental interest; and (2) the least restrictive means of furthering the compelling governmental interest.” Basically, state and local governments cannot do anything (through the law or any other action) that hinders a person’s right to practice religion unless they have a good reason. Under the act, a “person” does not just refer to an individual, but also to organizations, churches, corporations, and any entity that is able to sue and be sued and that can carry out practices compelled by religious beliefs held by individuals who have control of and ownership of the entity. The act seemed to allow the use of religious beliefs as a defense not only between a private party and the government, but also as a defense in a conflict between two private parties. One of the main causes of controversy was the view that the act could be used to discriminate against LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) individuals. Many thought that the intention of the act was to allow discrimination against LGBT individuals, yet Governor Pence and lawmakers in support of RFRA refuted that allegation. After much debate, the act was amended to prevent people from being able to withhold goods, services, employment, housing, or public accommodations based on race, color, religion, ancestry, age, national origin, disability, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or military service. This did little to appease anyone. Many still wanted the entire act to be repealed, while others were upset with the new amendment.