Members of the Indivisible NWI Steering Committee had the pleasure of interviewing Martin Del Rio. Below read some highlights as you consider your choices for the primary on May 3.
Learn more about Martin Del Rio at his website: https://martindelrio.com/
Most pressing issues facing Indiana
- Teachers and education
- There has been an onslaught against teachers, scapegoating them for the sake of popular opinion or political trends. Legislation is needed to protect teachers and the institution of public education itself. Teachers had only their blood and sweat as they came to the statehouse day after day and week after week. Without legislative protections this onslaught will keep happening. Legislation needs to focus on the teachers being the experts. The experts in education need to have the final say about curriculum and other educational matters.
- Protect unions.
- Research shows there is a direct correlation between a decline in union membership and income inequality.
- Northwest Indiana produces the most steel nationwide year after year. A strong union protects families and helps communities begin to grow again.
- The environment
- We must do more to protect the environment and hold corporations accountable. We need legislation in place to do that. This is a red state that likes oil and big pharma money. We have to change that.
- We must reduce our carbon footprint. We can grow jobs in green energy.
- Legalize marijuana.
- Decriminalize and legalize it and tie it to healthcare because it plays a big part in it. He is the Wounded Warriors Advocate for NW Indiana and the U.S. National Capital Region. Marijuana helps veterans manage pain and anxiety.
- There are no overdoses or liver damage and it is not a gateway drug. Science has proven its benefits.
- We need affordable healthcare.
- When his mom was sick and needed treatment, her insurance didn’t cover all she needed, so Martin and his brothers worked to help with medical expenses. When he and his brother deployed to Iraq, they sent half their paycheck home for her medical expenses. She was getting better, but then suddenly died; her insurance wouldn’t cover her doctor appointments and she died from an undetected heart problem.
- He is a military veteran and had cancer. He was able to receive top treatment at an excellent hospital because of his veteran benefits.
- He thinks everyone should be entitled to that level of care and favors a single payer system
Gun laws and permit-less carry
- He compared gun permits to requiring a license to drive. If you have to have a license to drive a car why would you not have one to carry a weapon?
- He fired every kind of weapon when he was in the military. Even the smallest one causes significant damage. You shouldn’t put that kind of power in just anyone’s hands.
- This law handcuffs police and endangers lives. The law literally puts law enforcement in more danger than they were before.
- The waiting period to get a gun should be extended.
- Guns should be regulated—law enforcement needs to know who has them.
- It shouldn’t be so easy to harm someone else.
- Oversight of schools should be the same. Public schools are accountable, private and charter are not.
- The standards are not the same. Expectations, accountability and standards have to be the same across the board for all schools that receive public funding. Impoverished communities are funded by property taxes, forcing public school teachers to work harder for less.
- Both teachers and physicians have the same value in affecting lives. We need to value that and it needs to be reflected in teacher salaries and the support teachers receive.
- Private and charter schools receive funding but don’t have to hit the benchmarks that public schools do.
- These issues don’t stop when the sessions ends. We need to get conversations moving in the right direction. We need to talk to teachers in town halls and build momentum.
Tax cuts for businesses and corporations
- He grew up poor always paying taxes.
- There is a $5 billion surplus. Legislators should give working people a break. Stop cutting taxes for those that can afford to pay it. Create a momentum to shift the thinking about taxes in this state.
- Break down the causes of crime. What put the criminal in that mindset? What got them there? We need a different approach, a multi pronged approach.
- Private prisons make a lot of money and they don’t help; there is no help after a prisoner is released.
- A well-rounded approach is needed.
Poor health outcomes in Indiana
- We need better access to better health care. He had access to VA healthcare—why?–because he deployed. It is not acceptable for others to not have the same access. Veteran healthcare is paid for in the Department of Defense with no problem.
- Better healthcare for all can be paid for with a single payer system similar to the VA system he has.
Women reproduce and they should decide. It doesn’t affect anyone else. If we tell women what to do with their bodies, what choices can we take away from men? It is none of the public’s business.
- Indiana must budget for safety.
- There needs to be protocols in schools for metal detectors. East Chicago had them. Legislation can be created to put that in place.
- He noted that possession of 36 grams of marijuana is a felony that will take away the right to vote.
- It doesn’t make sense that Indiana cracks down on voting rights but not weapons.
- We need to generate massive voter outreach and get the vote out. Getting out the vote is how people start to regain their voice.
- We should not still have a coal ash problem. We must hold corporations accountable not just issue a slap on the wrist.
- Indiana needs higher standards for clean air and water.
- We must create clean energy, sustainable energy resources. We must push for it. For example, the South Shore said it can run on solar energy. That needs to happen.
- We should have no dependence on carbon causing energy.
- We must create jobs and build our economy on green energy so it is sustainable.
- We need supportive services at the Pre-K level.
- Affordable childcare gives women opportunities to work. Lack of affordable childcare can create stress when both parents work. That stress is absorbed by the kids. Affordable childcare supports families.
- We must address the rights of renters. Conditions were bad before the pandemic and are worse now.
- There is discrimination in housing, against, for example the LBGTQ community. Legal protections must be put in place against discrimination in housing.
- He works with veteran housing in Gary; there is a government model for creating affordable and accessible housing.
- Legislation needs to be created that would create a budget that would aim toward specific housing and locations.
Working with republicans
Martin is a fighter who constantly pushes to fight for the people. He thinks its possible to work with republicans. In his work, helping veterans from all over the state, he has had to work with legislators from both sides of the aisle. He has already built a rapport there.
What grassroots groups like Indivisible can do
The best way we can bring about change is through information. Enthusiasm starts with having information. Grassroots efforts to get accurate information out is essential. Grassroots groups need to work together and with other people to push out that information even further. Information is power.
He jumped into the primary because so much is at stake. There is a fierce urgency of now. We can have more of the same or push forward and change a lot of things.
We and legislators can’t stop just because the session has ended. We need to keep pushing back, keep making our points, keep generating energy to get people to come along with us and start a movement for change.