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3 race for Democrat nomination in Ninth District

Three candidates — one from New Albany and two from Bloomington — hope to be the Democrat party nominee for the Ninth District Congressional seat. The winner in the May 8 Primary will face either Trey Hollingsworth, the incumbent, or James Alspach (these two Republican candidates were profiled in last week’s newspaper) in the General Election on Nov. 6.
Name and residency: Dan Canon, New Albany
Family: I have a wife, Valerie, and two kids, Athena, age 5, and Calliope, 21 months.
Education: I have a law degree from the University of Louisville.
Occupation: Civil rights lawyer
Political experience: None
Contact information for voters: or on Facebook (search “Canon for Indiana”)
Why are you seeking the office (in 100 words or less)? Because I care about my community. From representing people here for years — and experiencing the problems of the working poor in my own life — I’ve developed an understanding of people here and the problems they face. We’re at a time when people want something different from the status quo. People seem to want something they can relate to and something that wasn’t manufactured by Washington. And it’s not an exaggeration to say that American democracy is in trouble right now, and we’ve all got to do what we can to save it. This is something I can do.
What qualifies you for the office (in 100 words or less)? As a resident for over 30 years, I know the issues here because I’ve faced them myself. I was raised by a working-class single mother, dropped out of high school, then earned my GED. I became the first person in my family to graduate college. I’ve lived paycheck to paycheck and been poor. I’ve also worked as an attorney representing people who’ve been taken advantage of. Through my experiences, I have learned to listen and that real solutions come not from Washington, but from working directly with people. I have a lifetime of personal and professional experience doing just that.
What is the No. 1 concern you’ve heard from potential voters and what will you do, if elected, to address that concern (in 150 words or less)? People everywhere in the district, including me, feel like we are not being listened to by our government. I will make my first order of business to establish a substantial constituent services program here in IN-09. People here do not want platitudes and promises; we want to see elected officials getting elbow-deep in the community and taking real action. I would like to run services out of multiple, accessible congressional offices that are responsive to everyday constituent needs and also be a hub for directing people to other resources in their communities. People need to know that the federal government is doing something for them, and what better way to show that than to actually do things for them? This is something that has been sorely lacking in IN-09 for a long time and something I believe will lead to greater stability and prosperity in this District in the future.
Name and residency: Robert Chatlos, Bloomington
Family: Partner of 6 years, Derek Volker
Education: 2 years of college, also technical training in air transportation and logistics from the USAF
Occupation: Small business owner, trucking and logistics
Political experience: Organizing and volunteering for various coalitions. HIV needle-exchange programs, LGBT youth outreach and protection, Native American child protection services and foster programs, Obama campaign
Contact information for voters: [email protected];; 812-322-4162
Why are you seeking the office (in 100 words or less)? I do not believe our political parties as they operate understand the serious nature of the divisions that exist between our citizenry and continue to polarize the fragile bond we have as one people. The way to counter this problem is by supporting candidates that understand that embracing diversity means nothing without inclusion.
What qualifies you for the office (in 100 words or less)? I have a diverse background in employment, education and life experiences that has enabled me to relate to people from all walks of life. It is not just the typical demands of this job that I can accomplish, and our most serious problems are not legislative. We know what the problems are and, in many cases, how to fix them. We need peace makers and bridge builders to unify our country and move forward to facilitate democracy.
What is the No. 1 concern you’ve heard from potential voters and what will you do, if elected, to address that concern (in 150 words or less)? The opioid epidemic. What I will do is work with our current government agencies locally to identify the best places to allocate funding to challenge this issue head on. We will require unity and cooperation with so many different organizations, and it is a daunting task. Expediency is my concern here as well. I will push aggressively in Congress to get this done immediately. It’s a health issue in my view, not a political one.
Name and residency: Liz Watson, Bloomington
Family: I have a husband, Craig, and two children who are 7 and 11, Lila and Zach. My parents and my sister also live in Bloomington.
Education: Carleton College (B.A.), Georgetown University Law Center (J.D.)
Occupation: Adjunct professor at IU Maurer School of Law; former labor policy director for Democrats on the House Education and Workforce Committee in the U.S. House of Representatives (2015-17)
Political experience: Never held office before. Co-president of my senior class at Bloomington HS South (1993).
Contact information for voters: [email protected]
Why are you seeking the office (in 100 words or less)? We deserve a representative who is accessible and listens to the voters, not to corporate donors. We don’t currently have that. We need affordable and accessible health care for every single one of us, good-paying jobs and upward mobility for our families, clean water and air, real investments in infrastructure, opioid treatment and prevention efforts, and strong public schools. If elected, I will represent all of the people, not just the privileged few. Listening to people in need and coming up with solutions is something I’ve done my entire career, and there is nothing I enjoy more.
What qualifies you for the office (in 100 words or less)? Throughout my career, I have worked to improve the lives of working people and families. I served as labor policy director for the House Democrats, where I led the development of a working families agenda that includes living wages, quality, affordable child care, fairer work schedules and strong collective bargaining rights. I have endorsements from 28 labor unions in Indiana who are excited to send a champion for working people to Congress. They know that because of my experience fighting for Hoosier families, I will hit the ground running and be effective for them in my first term.
What is the No. 1 concern you’ve heard from potential voters and what will you do, if elected, to address that concern (in 150 words or less)? I regularly visit all 13 counties in this district, holding town halls and listening sessions. The No. 1 concern voters have is that their representative in Congress doesn’t listen to them, and they want to know that I will listen. They are 100 percent right. You cannot be a “representative” if you don’t represent people’s concerns, and you can’t know what they want unless you listen to them. Our communities believe in making health care affordable and available to every single one of us, and protecting and strengthening Medicare and Social Security. We want to invest in strong public schools, safe bridges and roads, and broadband access. We’re fighting for living wages, clean water and air, and a government that is no longer for sale to the highest bidder. I’m running a people-powered campaign, refusing corporate PAC money. If elected, I will answer to Hoosier families.