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June 7, 2011

Georgetown man intends to run for governor

56-year-old Lenfert has never held public office

NEW ALBANY — Floyd County will be represented in next year’s Indiana gubernatorial race.

Georgetown resident and business owner Thomas Lenfert announced Tuesday he will seek the state’s highest elected position and run for governor next year as a Democrat.

Lenfert, 56, has never held an elected office though he has run for a Floyd County Commissioner seat several times as a Democrat. Among his platform issues, Lenfert said he will push for reform in education funding and attempt to ensure all profits from the Hoosier Lottery are dedicated to schools.

“This way we won’t be running into this problem of having schools closing, not only in Floyd, but in Madison” and other parts of the state, Lenfert said during a press conference at the Floyd County Democratic Party headquarters.

He cited major differences in strategy as it pertains to education when compared to current Gov. Mitch Daniels. Lenfert said cuts to school funding have jeopardized education.

Lenfert plans to establish six farms in Indiana if elected throughout the state and hire primarily college students to work the fields. Not only would the plan help employment, Lenfert said, but the machinery purchased for the farms could be used for interstate maintenance as well.

“This will cut the budget on interstate/highway tremendously,” he said.

Lenfert estimated the farms would each cost between $1 million to $2 million to implement, but he added produce sales would eventually offset the expenses and generate revenue for the state.

Lenfert said he would stipulate farm employees would have to be legal U.S. residents and have lived in Indiana for at least one year before they could be hired.

Other ideas Lenfert said he would support include launching an oil refinery in Indiana, improving state parks and pushing large transportation companies to use liquefied petroleum gas to improve the environment.

Lenfert graduated from Clarksville High School and has lived in Floyd County for the past 29 years with his wife, Lisa. The couple also owns property in Crawford County, and he began Lenfert Nursery in 1989.

Lenfert did not graduate from college, and said he began his consideration for a gubernatorial bid in January.

“I just think it takes someone with a little common sense once you get in office,” he said. “I have just as good of a chance as the next man.”

As for other candidates, former Indiana House Speaker and Democrat John Gregg has announced his intentions to run for the governor’s seat as has Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Pence.

Daniels will reach his term limit next year after serving eight consecutive years.

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