Candidate Q&A: Klinker vs. Hass in Indiana House District 27
Sheila Klinker, a Lafayette Democrat first elected to the Indiana House in 1982, faces Republican Jim Hass for the Indiana House seat in District 27
Sheila Klinker, a Lafayette Democrat first elected to the Indiana House in 1982, faces Republican Jim Hass for the Indiana House seat in District 27, which includes the eastern part of Tippecanoe County, including Lafayette.
Here, Klinker and Hass answer questions about their approach to the two-year position.
For more: Find bios of each candidate, along with information about where and when to vote, at the end of this article.
Why are you running?
James Hass: I am running to represent our town among the wolves in Indianapolis. Our communities have opinions, interests and desires that need to be considered as they divvy up the $26 billion that comes into the state coffers. With Gov. Daniels leaving, Brandt Hershman gone and our current representative aging, we are entering a dangerous time.
Further, the long-term challenges of Indiana remain. We are the most manufacturing dependent state. We are the smallest state west of the Appalachians, beset with outmigration most of my life. Our Midwest regional markets are shrinking, and supply chains have been disrupted.
Bad policy nationally is leaving Hoosiers wondering how they will pay their bills, heat their home and get to work.
Sheila Klinker: I am running to serve a community that works together to achieve a great business climate, award-winning schools and a creative community in which to live and work.
What are two priorities you want to get done during your term, if elected? And how would you get those done?
James Hass: The major priorities in the short term are dealing with the coming crisis of unemployment and lost incomes, while improving parents' relationship with schools. Long-term we have to deal with an aging industry mix and a general "failure to thrive" here in the Midwest. On a personal level so-called "deaths of despair" from suicide, homicide, drug and alcohol addiction and overdose are alarming. Divorce, homelessness and learned helplessness mar the social landscape. Even though the General Assembly cannot save our souls, it can enable citizens' attempts to improve their conditions.
Sheila Klinker: My first priority, if elected, would be to increase educational funding at all levels, especially a fully funded preschool program and teacher salaries increases. Another priority would be to address our serious mental health issues throughout our state. In order to accomplish these goals, I would work in a bipartisan manner as I have done in previous years.
Indiana’s new abortion law restricts abortions with limited exceptions for cases involving rape, incest and some medical complications. Do you support the way Senate Bill was written? And what changes would you propose or support in the next legislative session?
James Hass: The new abortion law is a terrible compromise of unreconcilable ideas, which is why it will probably stick around in one form or another for many years. The days of theatrics are over, and the state gained new power to regulate these awful decisions. The new law isn't a ban, nor is it even a ban after 10 weeks, but it does prohibit most of the procedures that have been carried out since Roe. Hoosiers are repelled by infanticide, and those practices that are close to it. Very few folks think that parents have the right to eliminated inconvenient children, and nine out of 10 are disturbed by an abortion of a viable child close to term. A dividing line between a legal citizen with a right legal protection, to a life, and something else is inescapable, and while Texas has chosen six weeks, and Florida has chosen 15, there is still a line. Supporting women in crisis and the hope of family is the least controversial policy area here.
Sheila Klinker: I do not support the way the current abortion bill was written. Both Republicans and Democrats have discussed amendments that will make this law less restrictive and will satisfy the needs of women's health in the state of Indiana.
No matter who is elected, you’ll likely have to navigate a Republican supermajority in the both chambers of the General Assembly when representing House District 27. How will you do that, and what makes your prospects for success better than those of your opponent?
James Hass: Every member of the General Assembly has to confront the fact that he or she is one of 150 people with districts in conflict. This is nothing new, and by design. Persuasion and compromise are dark arts that can't be explained here.
Sheila Klinker: In order to navigate a bill in a Republican supermajority in both chambers of the General Assembly, I will work as I have in the past across party lines to achieve the goals that will help our district.
Several bills in the General Assembly in 2022 called on the state to do more to oversee curriculum, particularly with so-called divisive topics dealing with race in America, and parental oversight of classroom instruction. Did those bills go too far? Did they not go far enough?
James Hass: Transparency and honesty are the basis of any long-term relationship. I fully support efforts to make it easier for parents and voters to know what is going on in our public institutions. When government institutions are insubordinate to the voters and parent, we have a very big problem. Teaching racial identity and superiority are contrary to the wishes and views of Americans. The fact that a social movement seeks to dominate our children and grandchildren covertly should be alarming. Most Hoosiers don't want to have strange adults talk to minors about sex.
Sheila Klinker: Yes, the bills that were suggested to oversee the curriculum went too far. I feel strongly that we must continue to teach social studies in our schools. It is vitally important that our students learn the positive and negative aspects of our history in order to not repeat the mistakes that occurred in the past. Teachers are to be trusted to teach historical facts as they truly transpired, including racism in America.
Would you vote to legalize marijuana in Indiana? And if so, to what extent? If not, why not?
James Hass: Marijuana has been around for as long as hemp cultivation and alcohol and tobacco. 85 years of prohibition and then medicalization have not resolved our attitudes to these as vices, but the public is "the boss" in a representative republic, and most voters are not happy with current statutes.
Sheila Klinker: It is important for me to note that I have asked this very question on my survey more than once. Several of my constituents have voted to legalize medical marijuana; however, over half of those surveyed were in favor of legalizing medical and recreational marijuana. I would examine the bill proposed very carefully and would consult my constituents and medical professionals.
The General Assembly last session legalized permitless carry of concealed handguns in Indiana. Was that the correct move? And what do you believe is the next step involving gun legislation in Indiana?
James Hass: Constitutional carry, like right-to-work has clear majorities in public opinion polls here. As to dangerous characters, we have other procedures available to try to limit harm such as a "red flag law" and involuntary commitment. Until they repeal the Second Amendment, the tide is with deregulation here.
Sheila Klinker: I do not believe that legalizing permitless carry of concealed handguns was the correct move for Indiana. All citizens should need a permit to carry a concealed weapon and have a thorough background check.
What would you approach be to the state’s surplus? Should it be saved? Should it be spent, and on what?
James Hass: The allocation of our common resources is always a struggle, and the fact that we have just finished a budget year with a lot of cash tempts everyone to forget the lean years. The federal government spent a huge amount – 27 percent of GDP – during the Covid emergency period, and those dollars showed up in sales, the income tax revenues. And all that "high" is going away. We should continue to try to pay down the old teachers' fund while the extraordinary surplus remains and argue about the structural surplus' uses. We still have two of the top 50 most dangerous ZIP codes in Indianapolis, and care for women and children around the time of childbirth could be improved. Inflation has eroded the personal exemptions, child exemptions and spousal exemptions, while the income tax has creeped up at the local level.
Sheila Klinker: Because we have a large state surplus of over $6.1 billion, some of those funds should be saved in a Rainy Day Fund as it currently is for a possible recession; however, there are current needs in education, mental health and tax relief for Hoosiers that need to be met.
What are one or two things that separate you from your opponent and make you the best fit for District 27?
James Hass: Every person is unique, and comparisons are odious. I was born in 1959, while my opponent was born in 1938. We are products of different times, but almost the same place. If elected I would caucus with the majority, and have a voice.
Sheila Klinker: As a former elementary and middle school educator, as well as an Outreach Liaison for Reading Recovery in the College of Education at Purdue University, I feel I am qualified to implement new ideas and changes that need to occur in the state. As an incumbent in District 27, I feel that I have the expertise to help facilitate needed changes due to positive relationships that I have developed through the years.
BALLOTS, ETC.: Who will be on your ballot? Need to check your voter registered? That and more, available at Indiana’s voter portal, Indianavoters.in.gov.
EARLY VOTING: For a list of early voting sites in Tippecanoe County ahead of the Nov. 8 election, here’s the schedule.
Occupation: Retired trucker and businessman
Education: BA Purdue '92
Other election offices: previously Precinct Committeemen and Vice-President of the Republican Liberty Caucus of Indiana
Immediate family: I have two daughters, Margaret Hass of Lafayette, and Charlotte Alvarez of Bloomington, IL and three shiny, sparkling granddaughters
Campaign site online: Hass3000.com
Occupation: Retired teacher from Lafayette School Corp. and current member of the Indiana House of Representatives, District 27
Education: BS Elementary Education, MS Elementary Education, MS Administration, Supervision, & Curriculum with a Principal's License
Past Elected Positions: I served on Area Plan Commission for four years before being elected as State Representative in District 27
Immediate Family: Husband: Victor Klinker. Children: Kerri Klinker Colvin (husband Scott Colvin); Kevin Klinker, children Tommy and Tori Klinker; Kelly Klinker Jacobs (husband Ken Jacobs), children Evan, Madi and Nolan Jacobs
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