Candidates in four Indiana House districts that include parts of Fort Wayne offer a wide range of experience – from a 17-term incumbent to a pair of potential first-time state legislators running for an open seat.
In House District 52 – which includes Perry Township in northern Allen County and most of DeKalb County – Republican Ben Smaltz faces Democrat Charles Odier. Whichever candidate wins, the district, which was left open by redistricting, will have a first-time representative.
Smaltz, a DeKalb County Councilman and owner of Taylor Rental, has said in previous interviews with The News-Sentinel that his priorities at the Statehouse would include reducing government regulations on companies.
Odier, of St. Joe, is a worker at BF Goodrich and has been a critic of Indiana’s “right-to-work” law, which opponents describe as an attack on labor unions. Odier did not return a phone call seeking comment.
Three-term state Rep. Phil GiaQuinta, a Democrat, is running unopposed in House District 80.
First-term incumbent state Rep. Kathy Heuer, R-Columbia City, faces Democratic challenger John Good, of Fort Wayne, in House District 83, which includes Aboite Township and much of Whitley County.
Heuer, a commercial real estate broker, said her top priority would be the passage of a balanced budget. With the fight over the state’s “right-to-work” law over – at least for now – Heuer said she also wants to work across the aisle with Democrats as much as possible.
Good, a senior field representative with LabCorp, said he is running largely because he opposes the labor and education reforms that have been pushed through the GOP-controlled legislature over the past two years. If elected, Good said he would seek compromise and try to restore funding that has been cut from public schools.
State Rep. Phyllis Pond, R-New Haven, who has served in the General Assembly since 1979, faces Democrat Evan Smith, a social studies teacher at North Side High School, in House District 85.
Pond has offered few new proposals but says she wants to monitor the recent labor and education reforms to determine their impact on the state. A former teacher, Pond also hopes to study problems that have surfaced in the state Department of Child Services.
Smith did not return a call seeking comment for this story. According to his campaign’s Facebook page, Smith would place high priorities on fiscal discipline, small business and public education.
Smith, an IPFW graduate, waged an unsuccessful campaign two years ago against state Rep. Bob Morris, who represents House District 84.