By Adrianna Pitrelli and Zoie Richey
This story is part of a series of Q&As with newly–elected members of the Indiana General Assembly. Some responses have been edited for brevity and clarity.
Meet Sen. Andy Zay
Occupation: Owner of Zay Leasing & Rentals, Inc.
INDIANAPOLIS — Sen. Andy Zay, R-Huntington may be a freshman to the General Assembly, but is embracing the life of a legislator. His life revolves around three things.
“At the pace of legislative life, it’s pretty much legislator, father, business owner,” said Zay.
When he’s not serving in the Senate, Zay works as the third-generation owner of his automobile business, Zay Leasing & Rentals, Inc. in Huntington.
He also is a sports fan, whether he’s watching his one of his five children play or catching up with the Indiana Pacers.
A caucus selected Zay to replace of former Sen. Jim Banks, R-Columbia City, after Banks won Indiana’s 3rd Congressional District seat.
At the Statehouse, Zay is part of the Agriculture, Education and Career Development, Insurance and Financial Institutions and Natural Resources committees.
The StatehouseFile.com sat down with Zay to discuss his interest in government and the challenges he expects to face as a freshman in the General Assembly.
Question: What motivated you to run for office?
Sen. Andy Zay listens to a bill being read during an education committee. Zay is a coauthor for Senate Bill 498, which was referred to the Education and Career Development Committee. Photo by Zoie Richey, TheStatehouseFile.com
Answer: Just experience. I’ve been involved in politics a long time and been around some local issues. As I was involved locally, I began to follow some of my representatives and do some things down here and just wanted to get involved in some of the bigger issues of the state. That drove me to follow — for lack of a better term I’ll call my mentor Jim Banks — and moved on to Congress and so I came in behind him to make sure our district had a good representation.
Q: Out of the bills you’ve authored, which one stands out to you?
A: I just passed my first bill last week that was authored, so I mean that to me is at this point most memorable and we’re not even halfway through the first year. That was exciting. It was kind of interesting for me, because it dealt with driver’s education and foster kids getting licensure, whether a learning permit or a driver’s license. It’s a little bit of an arena I deal in back home, because I provide driver’s ed cars to many school corporations near where I am. So, that part of it was a little personal, the foster care bringing in beside that was a little unique.
Q: What state or local issues are you most passionate about?
A: I invested a lot of time with my educators back home, so I met with all the superintendents and the principals and many other stakeholders, both teachers and school board members and that kind of thing. So education I would say is definitely the big thing. It’s those connections, and my follow through with working on the education committee has been helpful in that. A little difficult getting into the bigger issues, but we’ve had some other issues and certainly the pre-K issue this year has been a big deal that we’re discerning on, so I’d say education.
Q: Are there any big challenges that you’ve already faced or you expect to face in your first session?
A: Well the expectations are tough to know what’s coming, but it is our budget year. The one responsibility we have is passing a budget, and I don’t care whether it’s our family budget, the church budget, my business budget, or certainly the state’s budget, but it’s just going to be a matter of prioritizing those and me giving a voice to it from my district’s perspective.
Fortunately, in Indiana we have some pretty sharp individuals that will have their hands on the numbers and they’re doing it over in the House now. I’ll have to listen to them and learn and educate on that but I’ll also be responsible and responsive to my district and try and bring those values into the budget as well. So, I think looking ahead that’s one thing that will be a tremendous challenge.
The other thing that I think is a challenge for me or what I’m learning to be a challenge is sometimes it’s easy to define the issue, but within the legislative process and even within the whole scope of the building, the executive branch, it’s finding how to best tackle that issue. It’s fun, because a lot of it is networking, but it’s a challenge to get to the meat of the issue and figure out how to adapt it and change it in your perspective of what’s making it better. Sometimes that isn’t always it, and that’s the beauty of the legislative body is having your fellow senators overhear with such a diverse group of opinions. I’ve seen that work on a number of bills already, but that’s certainly the case with issues that you want to tackle.
Adrianna Pitrelli and Zoie Richey are reporters for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.