TERRE HAUTE —
Indiana’s top three Democrats on November’s statewide general election ballot made a campaign stop in Terre Haute on Tuesday, greeting old friends and talking about current challenges in state government.
Beth White, Mike Claytor and Mike Boland visited with the Vigo County Commissioners as they traveled western and southern Indiana on their second day of campaigning. The Indiana Democratic Party conducted its state convention on Saturday, officially nominating White for Secretary of State, Claytor as state auditor and Boland as treasurer.
“I have a lot of ideas about how government ought to work more efficiently and effectively for the public,” said White, who is now serving her second term in office as Marion County Clerk.
“We believe that Indiana can do better as far as state government,” White said, noting that increasing household income, supporting education and championing voter rights are top among topics for the three candidates.
Indiana has one of the lowest voter turnouts nationwide, White said, and the state’s current voter laws are too strict, discouraging many people from registering and from trying to vote. Voting legislation received a lot of opposition from around the state, she said, especially from universities because student voters appeared to be targeted as a group.
White said that while in office in Marion County, she has expanded early voting opportunities and lobbied the legislature to remove barriers to voting. She previously worked for former Mayor Bart Peterson and was part of the late Gov. Frank O’Bannon’s administration before becoming clerk.
Claytor said that he is the first certified public accountant to run for auditor in Indiana. He began his professional career 40 years ago working with the State Board of Accounts, where he rose to deputy state examiner.
“I have worked in the state auditor’s office, so I have an appreciation of how that work is done,” Claytor said, noting that he worked with current Vigo County Treasurer Jim Bramble years ago on audits around the state. Bramble is also a CPA, as is county Auditor Tim Seprodi.
Claytor said a key point for his campaign is to make the public aware that the State Board of Finance has the ability to change budget appropriations at the governor’s request. So even though the legislature sets the budget for the state, the three-member board of finance — which comprises the governor, state auditor and state treasurer — can decide to cut and de-fund any department. That has happened to the state Department of Education.
“I think we need watchdogs in the Statehouse,” Claytor said, “and having Democrats on that board to balance decisions is key. Having been around the state government ‘forever,’ I’d like to see things change a bit.”
Boland is a 30-year educator who served in the Illinois General Assembly for 16 years, and moved to Indiana in 2012 with his wife to be closer to their family.
He said he agrees that it is unusual for a state to have a State Board of Finance, and it is not wise to have one political party in total control of that board.
Boland said he supports having a “link deposit” program that encourages banks to offer lower interest rates on loans to students, veterans and minorities in exchange for the state depositing some of its reserves in that bank. He said he opposes taxation of pensions for retirees, and he wants to run government more efficiently and target tax cuts for the working public and retirees.
Another project Boland said that he would like to bring to Indiana is an “economic helper” program for small communities that do not have the resources to do economic development. In the program, a community can brainstorm about its assets and come up with projects such as the tourism project in Fulton, Ill., which promotes its Dutch heritage of the area through a festival, museum and an authentic windmill.
“I love small communities, and I want to see them thrive rather than die out,” Boland said.
Welcoming the candidates was Vigo County Commissioner Judy Anderson, who herself campaigned for state auditor in 2006.
“I can go almost anywhere in the state and find someone I know because of that,” Anderson said.
Reporter Lisa Trigg can be reached at 812-231-4254 or email@example.com.
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• For more information about White’s campaign, go online to www.bethwhite.org.
• For more information about Claytor’s campaign, go online to www.claytor4auditor.com.
• For more information about Boland’s campaign, visit his Facebook page at Mike Boland for Indiana State Treasurer.