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October 26, 2012

Four area Statehouse incumbents face challengers

Only Stemler unopposed among Clark, Floyd districts

> SOUTHERN INDIANA — Four area Indiana Statehouse races are up for grabs in the Nov. 6 general election, with one local state representative running unopposed.

House District 72

Indiana House District 72 — which covers portions of Floyd County including New Albany, Floyds Knobs and Edwardsville, and a portion of Clarksville in Clark County — will pit incumbent Republican Ed Clere against Democratic challenger Sharon Grabowski.

Clere, 38, a real estate broker, is seeking his third term in office. After two terms, Clere said he has gained a lot of experience as a legislator, but the most important and relevant experience comes from his roles back home.

“It helps to inform my work as a state representative,”  Clere said of being a small business owner, family man and member of his local church. “It gives me a perspective to understand what my fellow Hoosiers are going through.”

And the major task facing the House of Representatives in the next session is writing a budget for those Hoosiers.

Clere explained that despite having a surplus in the state, legislators need to be careful about how they develop a budget and spend money. While the surplus is cited at $2 billion, Clere said the state needs to maintain a 10 percent reserve based on the annual general fund budget, which would cut the surplus to about $600 million.

“There is a temptation to start spending, and our biggest challenge is to maintain restraint,” he said.

He added the state needs to be cautious and continue to resolve unfunded liabilities, take a serious look at how it will fund infrastructure projects now that Major Moves funding is nearly gone and be able to continue to pay for education.

Legislation on Clere’s agenda if he is re-elected includes expansion of the Indiana historic preservation tax credit, development of the land bank program — a tool for communities to find solutions to deal with blighted and vacant property — a plan to expand artisan distilling in Indiana and potential for district park legislation, which he will pursue only with local support.

Clere said he is the best choice for the district pointing to his record as a legislator.

“I’ve proven myself to be an advocate for limited government and ... constituents found me to be accessible and I listen,” he said. “I hope to continue that [and] I hope to continue to be an effective voice for Southern Indiana.”

Grabowski, 65, a retired teacher and investment adviser for a total of 40 years, said her time spent as a teachers association president would serve her well if she is elected to the Indiana House of Representatives.

“I feel the consensus bargaining tool may help me in Indianapolis,” she said.

Grabowski said she decided to run for office because she has a strong feeling for the community, she was asked by former Indiana Senator Connie Sipes to run and she wanted to address the “assaults” on the middle class.

If elected, she wants to address the funding for public schools that has been cut $300 million per year in the last few years and address bargaining rights that have been taken away from teachers through the right-to-work law.

“There’s just a whole list of assaults on the middle class,” Grabowski said. “That’s why I decided to run. I think we need to reverse some of the legislation that has been enacted in the last several years.”

She also pointed to the cuts made to funding Planned Parenthood, cuts made to a program that gives children of disabled veterans breaks in tuition and the school voucher program.

Grabowski added that much of the money being collected in Floyd County is being sent to Indianapolis and being spent by the governor instead of staying in the local community.

“That is significantly taking away money from Floyd County schools,” she said. “These things really disturbed me.”

Grabowski added she wanted to give the residents of Floyd County a choice.

“I have the training, temperament and time to be an effective leader for the community,” she said.

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