SOUTHERN INDIANA — Democrat Matt Fyfe is vying for U.S. Rep. Trey Hollingsworth's seat as a candidate for Indiana’s 9th Congressional District.
Fyfe visited New Albany Tuesday for a meet-and-greet with Southern Indiana residents at the Floyd County Library. He is among the candidates running in the 2022 Democratic primary for the congressional seat.
Hollingsworth, a Republican, has served in the congressional seat since 2017. He is currently in his third term, which ends January of 2023.
Ballotpedia reports that Democrats Jonathon Cole, D. Liam Dorris and Babak Rezaei are declared candidates in the 2022 general election, along with Republican Hiren Patel and Libertarian Tonya Millis.
Fyfe, 33, grew up near Fort Wayne and now lives in Bloomington. He is a father of three who teaches math at Bloomington High School North and serves on the board of the Monroe County Education Association.
“You could say I’m an outsider, but I have some of that teachers’ union spunk in me,” he said.
Fyfe said his role as a father, teacher and teachers’ union leader have informed his approach as a candidate. He is focusing on issues such as good-paying jobs, quality education, accessible health care, paid parental leave, accessible child care, the right to organize and criminal justice reform.
“The things that I’ll advocate for are good jobs — we want people to have good wages and benefits and go home and be able to take care of themselves and their family — raising a healthy family so things like good affordable child care, making sure you can work and take care of your kids and things like good solid public education so we can take care of all our students and have a bright future,” Fyfe said.
Fyfe said when he was growing up, “Indiana and politics in general didn’t used to be so divisive.”
“I think we used to really talk about issues a lot more,” Fyfe said. “I think we used to sit down with neighbors and talk about issues, and I think we need to get back to that. I think we need to start talking about local issues that are impacting a lot of people right now, on a national level it’s too divisive.”
In a Tuesday interview with the News and Tribune, Hollingsworth discussed his main priorities for 2022. He said “it’s all about what I can do to enable and empower Hoosiers to live better lives.”
“Everything I focus on every day is making sure we make a better future for Hoosiers, making sure we have a safer future for Hoosiers, that we build a Washington that is concerned about Hoosiers,” he said.
Hollingsworth said his goal is “an economy where people’s wages are rising faster than prices.” He expressed disapproval of the Biden administration’s economic policies.
“That’s not what we see now as prices are rising faster than wages,” Hollingsworth said. “I want to create an economy where people feel like they can get their white picket fence, where they can get housing at a cheaper price than what they are having to pay today. I absolutely believe we should do that, but the policies coming out of the administration have pushed us in the opposite direction.”
Fyfe expressed support for the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill, which Hollingsworth voted against.
“Really, this infrastructure bill is creating jobs for people, it’s creating investments for our future,” he said. “Being able to vote for common sense bills and come back and say, this is the reason why I’m voting for these common sense bills and not making issues so partisan — that’s what I can bring to the table.”
Hollingsworth said he is against critical race theory in public schools, describing it as “damaging.”
Fyfe, on the other hand, described conservatives’ focus on opposing CRT as polarizing, saying “our schools do not need to be political.” CRT has become the subject of heated debate at school board meetings, and candidates in both school board and political races across the country have run on anti-CRT platforms.
“By people stepping up making big issues about these partisan issues, about issues like CRT and school board meetings where people are standing up and yelling, that is not helping our students, that is not helping our families, and we need someone to stand up who has a clear head and can say, these are the issues that we do need to focus on, these are the issues that will help our students,” Fyfe said.
“We need to fully fund things like our special education programs, fully fund our teachers, make sure we have nurses and counselors and teachers in every classroom,” he said.
He said he is also against the push for the “privatization of schools” in Indiana, saying it takes “funding away from our public schools, but it’s also hurting communities.”
“We’re having to consolidate schools, we’re losing resources, we’re losing elementary schools that a lot of these rural areas have depended on,” he said.
Hollingsworth noted legislation he is pushing for in the U.S. Congress, including congressional term limits and a lobbying ban for former Congress members. He introduced a bill called the Developing Responsible Individuals for a Vibrant Economy (DRIVE-Safe) Act, which is meant to address shortages of drivers in the trucking and logistics industry, as well as the bipartisan Yes in My Backyard Act, which aims to improve housing availability and affordability, he said.
He criticized the Biden administration’s foreign policy approach, including the withdrawal from Afghanistan. He also said he “backs the men and women in blue” and described the “defund the police” movement as a challenge “to our security and safety.”
Hollingsworth said he believes the 2022 race is a “choice between two different directions of the country.”
“I think you can see that in sharp relief with the direction out of the administration and from Democrats that wants more government, that wants more intrusion into your life, more mandates on what you can and can’t do, more restrictions on parents’ rights in schools, and I think what I’m pushing back against is exactly that,” Hollingsworth said.
He said “not only am I pushing for the things that Hoosiers want, I’m fighting to keep out the things that they don’t want.”
Fyfe said he “would like to stand up and say, ‘we can work together.’”
“I think one thing I would bring is kind of an attitude that I’m here for everybody,” he said.