Goshen News, Goshen, IN

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September 19, 2012

Election 2012: Gregg visits Goshen

Look beyond party labels, candidate says

GOSHEN — The Democratic candidate for Indiana governor spoke in Goshen Tuesday, focusing on making the most of the state’s industry, on ideas rather than political labels and on education.

John R. Gregg was the guest speaker at the Goshen Noon Kiwanis Club at Maplecrest Country Club.

The southern Indiana man sprinkled humor throughout his speech, even humor related to his job as a lawyer and his renowned facial hair.

“Do you want to vote for the guy with the mustache, or the guy in Congress?” he asked his audience. “The answer is right under your nose.”

And he jokingly noted the danger inherent in showing up in Republican country.

“You can even throw stuff if you want,” Gregg said. “As a Democrat coming up here, I’m ready for anything.”

Gregg is running against Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Pence. Gov. Mitch Daniels cannot run for the office again because of term limits.

‘Look beyond party’

One of Gregg’s main entreaties to the gathered Kiwanians was to stop focusing on Democrat and Republican.

“Look beyond party labels,” Gregg said. “Look beyond Democrat and Republican. Look at accomplishments, look at backgrounds. Look at what we’ve done.”

Gregg, a practicing lawyer, was born and raised in the town of Sanborn in southwest Indiana. He was state representative for his area, District 45, in the Indiana House from 1986 to 2002. He served as Speaker of the House from 1996 to 2002, including a term where the House was evenly divided. He also served as majority leader from 1990 to 1994. Gregg left the legislature to serve as president of Vincennes University. Gregg’s running mate is Sen. Vi Simpson, D-Ellettsville.

Gregg emphasized his workingman roots Tuesday, telling the crowd that he bought his first business, a soda shop, at 15 and went on to work full time to attend law school at night to earn his law degree at age 30.

“I always tell that,” he joked. “It softens being a lawyer.”

Set social issues aside

Gregg said there are incredible opportunities to grow business and industry in Indiana. He repeated several times that focusing on those opportunities instead of social issues is key for Indiana’s lawmakers and voters.

“Social issues are important, but nobody changes their mind on those,” Greg said. “They (legislators) spent more time on license plates and Girl Scouts than on good economic policy. We don’t even agree on time zones and class basketball in this state, how are we going to agree on social issues?”

Gregg’s question even garnered some laughs.

Gregg highlighted the seven “aquaculture” fish farms in Indiana, saying that the feed for those farms can be grown and processed in the state, filling empty grain elevators and creating jobs related to that industry.

“We can change the way we feed the world in Indiana,” he said.

He talked about the state being ripe for the construction of huge greenhouses of 50 acres, which would allow growers to harvest year round and export quickly to other states. Gregg pointed out that Indiana has a large, deepwater port at Burns Harbor that could be better used. He noted the international airport in Gary that is sitting empty.

“We can utilize that,” he said.

The state’s coal, natural gas and bio fuel from agri-business were also listed as under-utilized assets for the state.

And, he focused on the logistics of all those ventures.

Infrastructure

He listed a myriad of unfinished road projects and other infrastructure needs.

“The Toll Road money is gone,” he said. “Sixty percent of the bridges in Indiana need totally refurbished in the next 20 years.”

One topic Gregg visited and revisited was the benefits to Indiana industry of an expanded rail service. He said just a little more than 30 miles of new rail construction on the west side of the state could fuel tremendous economic growth.

“Rail has never been a priority in the past,” he said. “There is no rail policy.”

Gregg promised as governor, though he does not think Indiana is over-regulated relating to business, to first review all regulations and weigh them against three criteria.

“Whether they are grounded in science, whether they are cost-effective and whether they are applied with common sense,” Gregg said.

The candidate said he hears often that business opportunities exist, but the capital for start-up is hard to come by. He said re-investing in Indiana banks and community banks is a way to free up capital for new businesses and industry.

Education

Gregg focused on education as well.

“College is accessible in Indiana,” he said. “Our challenge is keeping it affordable.”

He said Hoosiers need to rethink what a college education means.

“College doesn’t have to be a four-year degree,” he said. “It can be an associate degree or a certification.”

Jobs are there for the taking in robotics and advanced manufacturing if Hoosiers are educated to fill them, he said. And partnerships with the education centers in the state, including research and development at Purdue University, would be a boon to industry.

Bipartisanship and working together were also a theme of Gregg’s talk Tuesday.

Gregg highlighted his term as speaker of a House that was evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans for the first time in Indiana history.

Leading an evenly split House, Gregg said, meant bipartisanship isn’t just rhetoric.

“I’ve been bipartisan, I’ve done bipartisan,” he said.

And the way to do that, he explained, is to “talk, listen and show respect.”

He said if Hoosiers want to focus on just Democratic ideas and Republican ideas, he may not be their man for the job.

“But if you see ideas as ‘good’ ideas or ‘bad’ ideas,” he said, “I think I’m your candidate.”

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