As mayor, job #1 has been working to create jobs and build a stronger economy in my hometown of Hammond, reinvigorating an older, blue-collar city into one that innovates, creates and builds with over $900 million in economic investments and X thousands of new, good-paying jobs. We brought $40 million state-of-the-art data center to the shores of Lake Michigan, expanded the South Shore Railway, and recruited businesses away from Illinois to create jobs here in Indiana.
In the U.S. Senate, I’ll work to lower rising costs for the middle-class. And I’ll fight to level the playing field for Hoosier workers, expand innovation and high-tech manufacturing here in America. We’ll rebuild our infrastructure and give small businesses the tools they need to build a strong, durable economy that creates good-paying jobs. And we’ll work to bring down the costs of everyday items by unchoking our supply chains and increasing supply. I’m proud that in my career, I’ve been endorsed by Indiana’s largest labor and business organizations, because I’m focused on a stronger economy for Indiana.
Rural Indiana is a special place to all Hoosier families and we need to protect and preserve our small towns and rural farmlands. There are over 55,500 farms in Indiana, with nearly 15 million acres of farmland. In the U.S. Senate, I’ll work hard to support our farm economy with a farm bill that strengthens the safety net for farmers and invests in conservation programs. I believe farm communities need a strong and fair safety net to protect against market failure and the ever-increasing extremes in our weather patterns. We need a strong crop insurance program and we need to continue to fully fund the permanent disaster program for livestock producers. In the U.S. Senate, I’ll work to open up markets for Indiana producers, exporting our agriculture products.
Having a healthy farm economy is good for small town and rural development, but we can do more – and that starts with dramatically strengthening broadband coverage across every corner of Indiana. It also includes protecting rural hospitals and health care, better housing and a small business economy that works.
We need to protect the rights of every American to vote and in the U.S. Senate I will support the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to restore and strengthen parts of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. This legislation would restore the requirement that certain states pre-clear certain changes to their voting laws with the federal government to prevent partisan power-grabs and the denial of American citizens right to vote.
I also strongly favor campaign finance and election reform to, in part, undue the great damage that the U.S. Supreme Court did when it overturned the McCain-Feingold law in the Citizens United decision.
Nothing is more important for Indiana’s economic future than ensuring the next generation of our workforce gets the best quality education possible. We must do more to support public education, including parents, teachers, and students. That starts by keeping schools open and giving parents and local school boards the power, not Washington. But that doesn’t absolve Congress from the duty of providing funding, innovation, and standards to ensure our kids are ready to compete in the global economy of the 21st Century.
As a father of a high school English teacher, I know how hard our teachers work and how important it is that they have the up-to-date facilities and good salaries while they are teaching our students to compete and excel. That's why I supported efforts on referendums to fund the construction of a new high school, make improvements to other school buildings, and increase teachers’ pay. One of my proudest achievements is the award-winning College Bound Scholarship program, which has been recognized twice by the U.S. Conference of Mayors for sending over 6,000 students to college and allowing them to graduate with little to no debt.
Throughout the past 18 years as Hammond's mayor, I have visited countless classrooms to talk with students during my regularly scheduled Lunch & Learn events. I've also made sure our youth have great facilities like the new Sportsplex, ice rink, and park improvements for baseball, football, and soccer, all so our children have safe and fun places to enjoy and compete.
In the 21st Century, there’s no reason we don’t have cleaner air and water, and more clean energy jobs here in the Midwest. I’ll make protecting our air and water a priority, as well as focusing on ensuring Indiana is set for the clean energy manufacturing jobs in that rapidly growing sector of America’s economy.
As mayor, I have made Hammond the "trail capital of Indiana" by pioneering over 25 miles of pedestrian and multi-use trail systems. Because of our work, Hammond has become bike-friendly and walkable, giving everyone a safe alternative to congested roadways. Also under my leadership, Hammond formed an energy conservation program that will reduce the city’s carbon footprint and save over $26 million in the next 15 years, all by upgrading our streetlights, HVAC systems, and outdated city vehicles with more efficient ones. We now have an electric vehicle charging station at City Hall and we created a first-of-its-kind Recycling Summit to teach residents how to recycle more effectively.
Our work in the coming years to find solutions to the climate crisis is also an opportunity for our workforce and economy, and a chance for our citizens to lead safer and healthier lives.
The most important thing our country must do in the coming months is defeat this pandemic and get back to normal. Once we reach the other side, we must do everything we can to build a stronger public health system in America and use the lessons learned from the past few years to be better prepared for future viruses and pandemics, which are surely to going to occur with more frequency in a world disrupted by climate change. We’ve lost too many lives, suffered too much heartbreak and division as a nation in the last few years – it’s truly time to heal.
One out of every five dollars in our economy is tied to the $4 trillion American health care industry. We’ve made tremendous progress in recent years in covering more American with health insurance, though we’ve got more work to do, especially on the rising costs of health care. We need to get soaring costs under control for Hoosier families, and in the U.S. Senate, I’ll work to do just that. It is not right that in the greatest country in the world one unexpected trip to the emergency room, or medical diagnosis can leave a family financially devastated for the rest of their lives.
I believe in the creation of an affordable public option. Millions of people in the US that have excellent employer-provided health insurance, and they shouldn’t have to give up their private insurance. But for those among us with no insurance, or that are underinsured, a public option would not only provide them with the ability to get the care they need; but would lower costs by creating more competition with insurance companies.
And we need to pass a plan to lower the costs of prescription drugs. There’s no reason why Hoosiers pay twice as much for medicine as our neighbors to the north in Canada, or the rest of the world. We’ve seen the power of medicine and what it can do in this pandemic, and the research and innovation that pharmaceutical companies are capable of pursuing to save lives – and we should be grateful. But that doesn’t mean we need to go bankrupt paying for such medicines or find common sense solutions to lower the burden on Hoosier seniors and families.
And we need to do more to support our front line workers – our nurses, EMTs, and hospital staff who have been true American heroes over the last few years. We owe them as a nation.
I have friends and neighbors who disagree on this issue, but to me it’s just simple: God gives no one a right to control another person’s body. I’m tired of men telling women what they can do with their own body. Women should have a right to choose, especially when their own lives are on the line. By overturning Roe v. Wade, our country has put thousands of women’s lives at risk of dying or other harm. That’s why I will vote to codify Roe v. Wade as the law of the land.
We also must protect resources that go to women’s health in other areas through Planned Parenthood and in the U.S. Senate I will do just that.
Like many Hoosiers, I am a gun owner. I also served in the U.S. Navy. In the military, I was taught to use my weapon responsibly and protect the lives of my fellow servicemen and women. However, we don't need military-style assault rifles like AR-15’s in our communities. I believe they are dangerous to society and made for war, not for hunting or protecting your family.