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Davisson faces primary challenge

Current State Rep. Steve Davisson, R-Salem, is being challenged by Michael Harkness of Paoli in the May 3 Primary Election for the District 73 State Representative seat. The winner will face the Democrat candidate, Douglas Leatherbury of Salem. Leatherbury squared off against Davisson in the 2014 election. Below are the Republican candidates’ responses to a questionnaire sent out by this newspaper.
Name, age and residency: Steve Davisson, Salem
Family: Wife, Michelle, and 5 children, 4 grandchildren
Education/Occupation/Political experience: B.S. in pharmacy from Purdue University. Served Southern Indiana for the past 33 years as a pharmacist in community retail pharmacy setting. I have served the past 6 years as State Representative for House District 73. Served on Public Health Committee and Ways and Means Committee, served as chair of Public Health Interim Study Committee and served on the Attorney General’s Task Force for Rx Drug Abuse.
Contact information for voters: [email protected] and cell 812-620-3150
Why are you seeking the office, and why should someone vote for you rather than your opponent (in 150 words or less)? Indiana was losing our best and brightest to other states, and I felt it was important to compete by bringing more good jobs to Indiana. I also believe it’s important to talk less and listen more. People often bring important issues to me that need to be addressed; I believe it’s important to look for ways to address those issues. I have experience in working through the political process in Indianapolis to get things accomplished. My experience in health care and as a member of Ways and Means provides me with an opportunity to impact legislation. I’ve worked hard in the areas of substance abuse and mental health, which impact our communities in so many ways as a member of the Attorney General’s Task Force on Prescription Drug Abuse. I’m accessible and available to constituents. As a small business owner and pharmacist, constituents can often contact me through the pharmacy.
The state’s education system, especially with regard to ISTEP+ testing and teacher performance, remains a hot topic. What would you recommend Indiana do to resolve this issue while ensuring our children receive a top-notch education (in 150 words or less)? When the federal government passed the Every Student Succeeds Act, it gives Indiana new options and more flexibility for testing. I have spoken with teachers and administrators who feel a shorter series of formative tests during the year with a shortened summative test at the end of the year would provide better data on student growth and give more opportunities to identify and remediate students in areas of academic weaknesses. Also a series of shortened tests would be much easier for students to concentrate and complete as well as not basing all of the quantitative results on one test. This would give a more complete picture and be much fairer for teachers in determining their evaluations. I voted to eliminate ISTEP in the upcoming year and replace it.
Name, age and residency: Michael A. Harkness, Paoli
Family: Wife, Laura; 3 kids, Sara, Mike and Xavier
Education/Occupation/Political experience: 1987 grad Paoli High; 5 years Paoli Town Council, serving 1 year as president; president Paoli Planning Commission. Harkness Rentals, Paoli
Contact information for voters: 1-812-653-1648; [email protected]
Why are you seeking the office, and why should someone vote for you rather than your opponent (in 150 words or less)? I am seeking office because I believe I can bring a new perspective on issues affecting Indiana. I know I do not have all the answers now, but I know it is important to listen to the opinions of others and utilize their experience. I believe in being honest with people, and I will. I will give people the answers they need to know, not what they want to hear. It is important for a legislator to be responsive to the needs of their constituents. Issues are complex, and laws have a huge impact on the lives of citizens, businesses and even local government.
The state’s education system, especially with regard to ISTEP+ testing and teacher performance, remains a hot topic. What would you recommend Indiana do to resolve this issue while ensuring our children receive a top-notch education (in 150 words or less)? With a daughter who teaches kindergarten, I understand how important education is for a strong foundation in life. I believe excessive testing is a distraction to learning, and teachers should be able to teach without fear of losing their jobs. There must be accountability, but lawmakers should work with educators to develop fair metrics that judge success without stressing students or teachers so they both can focus on enjoying school. Our educators know who is succeeding and those who need additional help and how we should empower them by giving them the tools we need. We can accomplish this by working with teachers and schools to determine how best to spend the money already allocated so we can increase the money spent per child without increasing taxes.

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