By: Sarah Ramon and Zoie Richey
This story is part of a series of Q&As with newly–elected members of the Indiana House and Senate. Some responses have been edited for brevity and clarity.
Q&A: Meet Sen. Eddie Melton
Occupation: Manager of Federal Government Relations at Northern Indiana Public Service Company
INDIANAPOLIS — Sen. Eddie Melton, D-Merrillville, spends a lot of his time working in non-profit executive leadership when he’s not at the Statehouse.
Melton’s main focus this legislative term is to work on issues regarding education, and unemployment in his district.
“How do we address the unemployment rate and getting long-term unemployed individuals back in the workforce and preparing the next generation of Hoosiers ready to work,” said Melton.
TheStatehouseFile.com got the opportunity to sit down with Melton and discuss what inspired him to run for office and some of the legislation that he has authored.
Question: What prompted you to run for office?
Sens. Eddie Melton and Eric Koch are sworn into office as their families stand beside them during a ceremony in November. Ten new senators took office for the 2017 legislative session. Photo by Rachel Hoffmeyer, TheStatehouseFile.com
Answer: Well, I served about a year and a half on the State Board of Education, and during that time I recognized that a lot of the policies that we were governing or mandating across the state on education perspective, I did not hear the voice oftentimes of the teachers, parents or students that were in my district. Also, I learned that at that time the current senator, Sen. Earline Rogers, was retiring and I knew we would have a huge gap — a missing voice in education in our community, as well as the state. So, that’s why I talked to Sen. Rogers, expressed my interest and gained her support in my effort to run for office.
Q: Have you authored any legislation yet?
A: I have about eight bills that I have authored. A few of them address an urgent concern dealing with the Gary school corporation, and how we address that on a long-term perspective and financial as well as organizational structure. Primarily the financial issues and how the state can play a part in that and rectifying that issue.
Other things I have in terms of helping individuals that are disabled or have disabled family members that need to retrofit their home to accommodate their disability.
And then of course a seatbelt bill for school buses for children. They all take school busses and I think we’ve seen nationally a lot of incidents where school bus accidents have occurred. There was one recently I believe about a year or two in Griffith, Indiana. I believe there was a basketball team, they were in an accident, and that’s what prompted me to look further into it. As a legislator, that’s something that I wanted to be an advocate for.
Q: Are you on any committees?
A: Yes, I’m ranking minority member on education committee. I’m also on the Agriculture, Natural Resources, Pensions and Labor, and Homeland Security and Transportation. I’m on several committees.
Q: What are your main goals for this session that you want to accomplish?
A: I think right now, my main goal is to establish credibility on colleagues, and to be able to articulate the urgent issues that impact my district. And hoping that the trust that I have been able to build back home, I will be able to build here in the Statehouse, where I am able to get the resources and attention that is needed by the state of Indiana to address our most urgent issues and concerns in the 3rd District.
Q: Are there any challenges that you have faced that were completely unexpected?
A: No, not at this present time. I think that I am adjusting to the culture. I was always familiar with the legislative process, but I think right now I am just getting adjusted to the culture and being accessible to constituents and to folks that have issues and concerns.
Q: What is the most satisfying part of your job as a politician?
A: I look at it as being a people servant, and it’s satisfying knowing that you end up in a position to be a serving leader on a level where the decisions you make will impact policies that will impact individuals, families and their lives.
Sarah Ramon and Zoie Richey are reporters for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.