By Andi TenBarge
This story is a question and answer series with newly-elected members of the Indiana General Assembly. Some responses have been edited for brevity and clarity.
Meet Sen. David Niezgodski
Occupation: Owner of Niezgodski Plumbing Inc.
Hometown: South Bend
INDIANAPOLIS — Sen. David Niezgodski, D-South Bend, may be a fresh face in the Indiana Senate, but he isn’t new to the Statehouse.
Before winning his Senate seat in 2016, Niezgodski served in the Indiana House for 10 years. There, he was known for being outspoken opponent in the Right-To-Work debate back in 2012. Niezgodski said he considers himself to be a regular person who is able to use “simple common sense voting” when making decisions.
TheStatehouseFile.com was able to catch up with Niezgodski to discuss what he hopes to accomplish in his new position.
Q: What is your occupation outside of being a state senator?
Sen. David Niezgodski, D-South Bend, gives his opinion about a bill that would allow bonds for transportation projects in the Senate Appropriations Committee. Niezgodski previously served in the Indiana House for ten years before running for the Senate. Photo by Andi TenBarge, TheStatehouseFile.com
A: I’m the owner of Niezgodski Plumbing Inc. It’s a business that my grandfather actually started in 1922. So, I’ve been working that since high school.
Q: Are there any particular issues that have come up in the past here at the Statehouse or are ongoing right now that you are passionate about?
A: I’ve always been very passionate about issues that pertain to working men and women. I’ve been a very strong advocate for those causes and that’s pretty much a good portion of why I call myself a Democrat. Although, I also believe that you have to work in a bipartisan means in order to accomplish anything. So, while I’m ready and eager to take a hard stand on issues and speak my voice, I also know that it also takes relationship building in order to accomplish the goals that you try to set out for yourself. Not just for yourself, but for the issues that are important to the people you represent.
Q: I know this is your first year serving as a state senator. Is there a particular reason you decided to run for that Senate seat instead of running again for the House?
A: Although I was very happy serving as a House representative and I believe I could have been successful if I had sought another term in the House, an opening did come about when Sen. John Broden [a South Bend Democrat] decided to run for circuit court judge in St. Joseph County.
I just felt that already being present in the House for 10 years and already having gained the opportunity to gain some relationships with some of the members of the Senate, I believe it would be a very good opportunity for me to represent the constituents of South Bend and Mishawaka and Notre Dame in a stronger means. I thought because of some of those relationships that I would be a good person to try to take on that role. Although I was very happy with what I was doing in the House, this is pretty much double the size the constituency you represent. I have greater responsibilities in terms of committee assignments and I guess I like challenge. So, it’s kind of like a renewing for me and a chance to work even more aggressively in the type of things I’ve learned to love to do.
Q: You’ve been serving in this position for roughly for two, almost three weeks now. What are the biggest differences that you’ve seen between the two chambers?
A: In terms of responsibility, I’m on six committees compared to three that I was in while I was in the House. I would say that the structure is a bit more formal. Not that the House is not formal, but I think maybe because you have 100 members opposed to 50 members that maybe that allowed to breathe a little bit more in the House. I think with the things I’m going to learn about the process in the Senate, I think I’m going to have the capacity to do very well.
Q: What is one thing you want to accomplishment this session? What’s one big goal for you?
A: Well, to begin adjusting to some of the differences that are in the Senate, become well-acquainted with all the members in the Senate, and at the end of this session and going through the year hopefully accomplish some things that help my constituency —the 10th District — to where they can say, “Job well done, freshman senator.”
Andi TenBarge is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.