Two Noble County residents, neither of whom has held elected public office before, are competing for the chance to represent Indiana's 82nd District in the state House of Representatives.
Both Republican David Ober and Democrat Mike Wilber are deeply rooted in the district, which includes all of Noble County, as well as northwest Allen County, northeast Whitley County and a small part of LaGrange County. Wilber grew up in northwest Allen County and now lives near LaOtto. Ober is a lifelong resident of Albion. But their obvious similarities end with geography.
Ober, 25, is a recent graduate of Purdue University, where he earned a degree in computer graphics technology. He had worked as a Web designer at Cirrus ABS in Fort Wayne, but left the company and started his own consulting business to allow himself more time and flexibility to campaign. Wilber, 42, is president and business agent of Sheet Metal Workers Local 20.
Wilber said he delved into running for office this year after joining in an unsuccessful fight to keep LaOtto Elementary School open. He also was dismayed by the passage of right-to-work legislation in the state this year.
Ober said he was in student government when he was in college and found that he enjoyed his service there.
Wilber is somewhat dismissive of Ober because of his youth, saying, “I've been paying taxes longer than he's been alive.”
Despite his youth, Ober has a relatively deep platform, with positions on more than half a dozen broad issues, from gun control to education. Among the highlights of his positions at www.davidober.us:
•He said he believes life begins at conception and will fight “to protect the unborn and preborn.”
•He supports right-to-work law.
•Pledges to vote for a biennial state budget only if it includes no tax increases.
Wilber's campaign website is a Facebook page, www.facebook.com/votewilber. It serves more as an announcement board than a comprehensive presentation of principles or platforms.
In recent interviews, he said he's a strong supporter of gun rights, an opponent of extending vouchers to more Hoosier parents for education and very skeptical of efforts to consolidate local government, such as eliminating township government.
“I'm a moderate Democrat,” Wilber said. He explained that “state government is going in directions sometimes that I don't necessarily agree with.”
Ober endorses a conservative menu of positions, but he said ideology isn't necessarily what drives him.
“I'm a Web developer by trade; that's about as far away from politics as you can get,” he said. Instead, he said he wants to bring an analytical, practical bent to solving problems. “I'm not one who cares to take credit for all the good ideas.”