Gubernatorial candidates discuss violence, vouchers and mass transit

By Adrianna Pitrelli
TheStatehouseFile.com 

INDIANAPOLIS — For the first time, gubernatorial candidates Democrat John Gregg, Republican Lt. Gov. Eric Holcomb and Libertarian Rex Bell took the stage together at Central Library Sunday to discuss issues regarding public transit, school choice vouchers and recent perceived police violence.

Democrat John Gregg talks about racial divide. He said the country's police departments need to focus on de-escalation. Photo by Adrianna Pitrelli, TheStatehouseFile.com

Democrat John Gregg talks about racial divide. He said the country’s police departments need to focus on de-escalation. Photo by Adrianna Pitrelli, TheStatehouseFile.com

Public Transit

Infrastructure in the Hoosier state could make leap toward more mass transit if voters find it a pressing issue.

Under Gregg’s administration, $3.2 billion would be added to the state’s current infrastructure program. He would use 40 percent of the money on roads and bridges, while 60 percent would go to adding more mass transit and expanding broadband access.

“All large cities need ways to get people to and from work, to and from entertainment and a way to travel safely across the state,” Gregg said.

Like Gregg, Holcomb said mass transit can be an asset, but Holcomb thinks that issue should be left up to the voters.

“Mass transit is one of those investments where citizens have to decide if this is what they want,” Holcomb said.

But Bell said mass transit is not cost efficient, therefore he does not support it.

Libertarian Rex Bell addresses crowd at Sunday's gubernatorial forum. Bell said he does not support mass transit because he does not want to see more government overreach. Photo by Adrianna Pitrelli, TheStatehouseFile.com

Libertarian Rex Bell addresses crowd at Sunday’s gubernatorial forum. Bell said he does not support mass transit because he does not want to see more government overreach. Photo by Adrianna Pitrelli, TheStatehouseFile.com

School Choice Vouchers

Gov. Mike Pence advocated for expanding the school choice program, a move that both Holcomb and Bell both support.

“Parents ought to have the final say to where they are able to send their child,” Holcomb said.

Gregg, however, wants to prioritize improving the current system so that students receive a quality education regardless of where they attend.

“It needs to be about education, about the students,” Gregg said.

Perceived Police Violence

Following the recent police shootings of unarmed African-Americans across the nation, voters present at the forum said they are concerned about a similar situations happening in Indiana.

Gregg, Bell and Holcomb all recognized a need for police dashboard cameras.

Holcomb said dashboard cameras are more beneficial than body cameras because they allow for clearer video and have more storage. He also said dashboard cameras are much cheaper than body cameras.

“The state police has determined that they are leaning towards the use of dashboard cameras,” Holcomb said. “Dashboard cameras are vitally important for officers to carry out their duties.”

Republican Lt. Gov. Eric Holcomb said he plans to have a strong relationship with the next State Superintendent of Public Instruction. Holcomb also said he favors school choice. Photo by Adrianna Pitrelli, TheStatehouseFile.com

Republican Lt. Gov. Eric Holcomb said he plans to have a strong relationship with the next State Superintendent of Public Instruction. Holcomb also said he favors school choice. Photo by Adrianna Pitrelli, TheStatehouseFile.com

As governor, Bell said he would have higher standards as to who can become a police officer and would implement more hours of training prior to going out in the communities. He said he would also have a conversation about the racial divide.

“Someone who is afraid of someone because they look different should not be wearing a badge,” Bell said. “If they are going to have a gun and protect people, they need to be heavily vetted.”

Gregg said policies regarding camera regulations and independent investigations are also important when speaking out against police violence.

“It goes way beyond dialogue,” Gregg said. “We need to continue to focus on de-escalation.”

The three candidates are scheduled to meet again Tuesday to talk about jobs and the economy at the first of three gubernatorial debates.

Adrianna Pitrelli is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.

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