Members of the Indivisible NWI Steering Committee had the pleasure of interviewing Todd Connor. Below read some highlights as you consider your choices for the primary on May 3.
Learn more about Todd Connor at his website, https://www.toddconnorforsenate.org/.
Most pressing issues:
How Indiana will invest the federal dollars it has received from the American Rescue Plan and other legislation.
- We have the opportunity for unprecedented economic growth with $2 billion investment and clean energy opportunities. We can reverse the brain drain. We can invest in education. We can capitalize on this once in a generation investment.
- But is the growth going to be more Amazon-like warehouses? Polluting companies? Companies that offer low wage jobs? Will we attract companies looking for a state that limits liabilities
- We can build toward the future with clean energy, skilled, higher wage jobs. We can work with companies that share our values for protecting waterways. We need to be aspirational, political leadership to help frame what’s possible.
- Indiana always goes backwards. We have a reputation for being anti women, anti LBGTQ, anti environment. We don’t use budget surpluses to reinvest in the state and to strengthen infrastructure. We have poor nursing home care. We have the resources to improve. Moving backwards is having a budget surplus and not investing to strengthen infrastructure and the lives of Hoosiers. Backwards is the nature of Indiana republicans. Republicans are an impediment to our economic opportunity.
- Indiana is moving toward an increase in culture wars. The democratic party is the responsible adult in the room that represents what Hoosiers want.
- Moving forward with this enormous once in a lifetime investment won’t happen automatically.
- Todd has worked on economic development in other places and helped start businesses. It’s hard to achieve an aspirational vision for a place without elected political leadership that can be at the table, help frame what’s possible, get the right people together and get the job done.
- The political system nationwide is in a state of dysfunction.
- We are a flawed democracy, tied with Chili—and Chili is getting better while we are getting worse. How can this be?
- Todd looked at solutions and decided on voting reform—Final Five Voting—as a way to conduct elections. It’s a combination of open primaries and ranked choice voting. We can implement election reforms to correct the dysfunction.
Education in the state
- Republicans are not driven out of good policy. There is an ideology vacuum. It is not informed by teachers. It is a reflexive rejection of expertise. It is a rejection of what economists say holds Indiana back.
- Indiana must address education—teacher shortages, graduation rates, university attendance.
- Parents do have a role to play—mostly about how you engage with your child.
- The bills proposed during the last session were dangerous. We have to call out legislators that are proposing these bills. These bills are aimed at problems that don’t exist. These bills caused hostility.
- We have to support teachers. Listen, get them at the table. We need to have experts at the table. Respect professionals and listen to what they tell us they need to be successful.
- Teacher salaries need to be increased and teacher shortages addressed.
Corporate and business tax cuts
- Indiana has a $7.25 minimum wage and minimal fines for pollution and environmental events.
- Brookings issued a report about economic conditions in Indiana.
- Republican economic policy in Indiana hasn’t worked. Have people’s lives improved?
- Cutting taxes is supposed to attract business, but we are experiencing a brain drain.
- Companies are not coming here for the taxes. Indiana is not moving toward the future.
- NW Indiana can create an environment that feels different, that reflects where we want to go. We can’t attract talent when we’re going backward.
- Rely on expertise. 96% in prisons enter on some form of drug and are experiencing toxicity. 80% have a mental health diagnosis.
- We can’t separate criminology from mental health and addiction.
- Permit-less carry will attract criminal behavior.
- Invest in substance abuse and treatment. Have detox and mental health services. Indiana’s approach has been wrong and ineffective.
- Air and water quality are poor. We must be honest about where we are.
- Nursing homes—Indiana gets federal $$ and then reimburses nursing homes for less and pockets the rest.
- Outpatient care is a growth industry.
- Increase public health funds
- Support injured workforce. Listen to workers.
- We shouldn’t shield companies.
- Increase wages for workers. That correlates with health outcomes.
- We need public policy that focuses on health-care—school lunches, elder meals, outside spaces, living conditions.
- It must start with telling the truth of where we are.
- Todd fully supports a woman’s right to choose what she does with her body and her own reproductive health.
- Republicans say they are pro life, but have a narrow definition of what constitutes a life. A life is also a 3-year-old child. A life is also what a same sex couple can give a child in a healthy stable home. Life includes what you give children when they’re in pre-K. Life includes what kind of supportive services children receive. Life includes the quality of the air they breath and the water we drink.
- If reproductive rights are rolled back, we as democrats have to stand up and declare our moral opposition. Who will stand up and lead the counter argument for a state that is increasingly out of touch with people?
- Todd can play a unique role to talk about what rolling back women’s rights does to all the women who might otherwise choose to call Indiana home, what it might do to businesses that might otherwise choose to bring their business here, and how it hurts us all in very real ways.
- It’s about a culture war. Do we say that in this republican environment there is nothing we can to? Or do we stand up and declare this isn’t who we are. Do we create avenues for people to join us to say we’re not going to let this happen?
- Indiana has a legacy of pollution. Companies pollute and leave. Then the government cleans it up at taxpayer expense. In essence, the taxpayer gives $$ to the industry that polluted and left. Companies must pay for clean up.
- Manage sites.
- We need a louder voice on this.
- It is a false choice—pro business or pro environment. There is an unnecessary cost burden and impact to quality of life.
- Companies don’t want to come here.
- We can’t move a community forward in these conditions.
- The republican frame is business, but we can have both.
- Region branding should be welcoming to clean energy. We are not interested in dirty energy industry. We support a unionized skilled workforce.
- The high rate of eviction paints a picture of a state that doesn’t care about people, a state that puts business interests ahead of people interest. There are cascading effects of eviction; the state ends up paying for that at some point. Many who are evicted will need government services later on and then it becomes an economic issue.
- We need rent subsidies. We have record evictions and record tax revenues.
- Todd co-founded Veterans for Political Innovation to fight to preserve democracy through election innovations.
- Other states and cities have enacted election reform—ranked choice voting and final five.
- These reforms have bipartisan support. In WI its a bipartisan bill.
- Under these reforms the worst of the worst can’t win.
- Because of gerrymandering primaries determine the winners. Independents never get a choice because of gerrymandering.
- Our current system creates a moral rot in which people don’t feel it is a democracy in fact. Democratic reform has to be front and center in U.S.
- We must implement systems that drive voter turnout—like rank choice voting. It’s doable with some republicans in Indiana.
Todd will fight for Hoosier values:
- Honest politics
- Hoosier values
- Safe communities
- Respecting law enforcement
- Safe drinking water
- A healthy environment
- Good schools and satisfied teachers