- Nick Siler
“Knowledge and learning, generally diffused throughout a community, being essential to the preservation of a free government; it shall be the duty of the General Assembly to encourage, by all suitable means, moral, intellectual, scientific, and agricultural improvement; and to provide, by law, for a general and uniform system of Common Schools, wherein tuition shall be without charge, and equally open to all.” Constitution of the State of Indiana, Article 8, Section 1
Indiana State Senate District 47 is comprised of 15 school districts: Crawford County Community Schools; Northeast and Southeast Dubois in Dubois County; Cannelton, Tell City-Troy and Perry Central in Perry County; Springs Valley, Paoli and Orleans in Orange County; East Washington, West Washington and Salem in Washington County; and North Harrison, South Harrison and Lanesville in Harrison County. These school districts form the backbone of our communities, and in many cases, they’re some of our largest employers. We have pride in them as we do our own children, as we should, because these are the schools that our children attend.
Without question, Nick believes that public money should be for public education only. The Indiana Constitution requires this and the Indiana General Assembly and governor have been derelict in carrying this out, in favor of schemes to divert money to private interests through charter schools and vouchers. Nick is in favor of restoring local control of school districts, and loosening the restrictions on administrators, school boards and teachers at the local level to ensure adequate staffing, training, and compensation to hire and retain great teachers. Indiana is great at generating meaningless paperwork so political appointee bureaucrats can justify their existence, but where it struggles is retaining great teachers and ensuring that students in our small rural school districts have an equal chance to succeed. Also, collective bargaining for wages, benefits and working conditions needs to be restored. Let’s trust school boards and superintendents to do the right thing, and not constantly have the heavy hand of state government interference.
Across the river in Kentucky, a new administration is attempting to try some of the same failed policies and that have done such a disservice to Indiana education. While students in many Louisville public schools go on to Ivy League or other prestigious public and private universities, Indianapolis-Marion County, which has city-county government, is balkanized into 11 school districts. Jefferson County, Kentucky has one school district for the county and 101,000 students. Marion County, which is much larger than Jefferson County, has 27,000 in Indianapolis Public Schools. Fort Wayne actually has the largest school district in Indiana.
While saying “The dollars should follow the student,” is a nice slogan, the way Indiana education works at the present time benefits the wealthiest school districts in Indiana, while punishing the budgets of the rural school districts in Dubois, Perry, Crawford, Harrison, Washington and Orange Counties. “School choice” is a euphemism for taking away local control and putting public money into private hands. The way that politicians turn residents against their own school is the concept of “accountability,” where the politicians set teachers up to fail when they try to the most with the least resources in the most difficult circumstances. Nick believes that teachers should be accountable to their principals and superintendents, superintendents should be accountable to their school boards, and school boards should be accountable to the voters and parents in a school district. Where the state comes in with their concept of accountability is to create a situation to take away local control and give away taxpayer money to politically connected private entities and people.
So often, the ability to get vocational education training while in high school is treated as some sort of privilege, and not the economic necessity that it is. Vocational education needs to be improved and expanded for students not anticipating attending a 4-year college, and students shouldn’t have to spend two hours in the car away from their teams, high schools, and friends in order to get it.
Our businesses need skilled and trained workers, and Indiana should focus on this, and not the impractical, uninformed ideologies of rogue characters like Tony Bennett, Steve Hilbert, Fred Klipsch, Mitch Daniels and Betsy DeVos. Further, Nick would investigate how a public university (Purdue) can buy a subsidiary of a publicly traded entity (Graham Holdings Company) with thousands of employees and tens of thousands of students for a dollar.
This fall, two competing visions for public education will be on the ballot in State Senate District 47. Nick believes his position is not only more popular in Southern Indiana, it is the right one for our children.
Nick supports the efforts and sacrifices of the Indiana State Police, County Sheriffs, and local police and town marshalls to keep us safe and enforce the law. He also supports local volunteer and professional fire departments and emergency medical services throughout Indiana. Hoosiers can be proud of the sacrifices they make as well as those case managers who keep children safe from abuse or neglect through the Indiana Department of Child Services. The brave men and women working in these fields of public service, together with our prosecutors, attorneys, judges probation officers, community corrections, and IDOC officers, create a system where individuals can be rehabilitated if they so choose, or punished if they don’t. Everyone has a role to play, but without law enforcement, fire protection and EMS services, it would be hard to have anything that we could call civilization.
Nick also believes that revisions to the criminal code sometimes makes things difficult for law enforcement and local courts and communities. He vows to work with county governments and law enforcement to make needed revisions that remove some of the burdens from county governments for public defenders, prosecutors, and jails. He also favors more grants to address problems of jail overcrowding, and ensuring that substance abusers get the rehabilitation they need.
Nick is focused on improving public health in Indiana. Nick will work with universities, health care providers, community mental health and other stakeholders to improve outcomes and treatment for Hoosier families. He knows that if the Indiana General Assembly spends half as much time on improving public health and acting for the benefit of Hoosiers as it spends patting each other on the back, accepting perks from lobbyists and fighting over divisive social issues, we can save lives, save families, and make Indiana attractive to private investment.
In Indiana, low income families can be eligible for Medicaid, people who work for large employers can get insurance through work, and most public sector workers are given health insurance through their employment.
However, health insurance coverage is unaffordable for many small businesses and their employees, and the options available through the exchanges are not appealing for many small business owners nearing retirement age. Nick will work to implement a basic, affordable and durable public health insurance plan that keeps private health insurance companies honest, meets the needs of small businesses, and saves money (that would otherwise be spent on health care) toward bigger profits and higher wages. Nick is not interested in the blame game and political grandstanding. He is interested in results, and ensuring that decent, hardworking, regular Hoosiers get the health care coverage they need for themselves and their families.
Community Mental Health:
Indiana is facing a public health crisis in the area of drug abuse. Our community mental health centers in Southern Indiana, despite their good work, cannot meet the needs the needs of Hoosier families, and Hoosiers who sign up for health insurance through the Healthy Indiana Plan are kicked off because of bureaucratic nightmares and prevented from reapplying for six months. This defies common sense and needs to change.
It is time for a State Senator interested in addressing the most pressing needs of our communities in Southern Indiana. When people don’t get the mental health treatment that they need, they may turn to illegal drugs, or their addictions can cause mental health problems that society as a whole must pay for.
In any event, when mental health and addiction treatment is not readily available, we are giving addicts logical excuses for continuing their addictions and not getting the help they so desperately need. Healthy people. including mentally healthy people, are more successful, are better employees, and better parents. Instead of spreading the blame for things as they are, Nick will work to expand community mental health services.
From the experiences of family members, friends and through his work as an attorney, Nick knows that we need to make sure that health care services for the elderly, including elderly veterans, are working the best that they can. Hoosier Families need to know that Indiana cares about nursing home residents, seniors receiving home health services, families. and skilled nursing employees so that Hoosier seniors get the care they so richly deserve. Indiana state government has a large role to play in delivery of services, and we need to provide care in a way that does not deplete the life savings of seniors who worked hard their whole lives, and that respects the dignity of Hoosier seniors.
When we drive where we want to go on good roads, turn on the faucet and clean water comes out, flip the switch and light appears or, we use our cell phone to make a call or stream music, we’re using infrastructure.
Great public infrastructure allows Hoosiers to grow thriving businesses. Nick believes we need to invest in strong, reliable and safe public infrastructure. When we cut corners, as happened in the Flint Water Crisis, innocent people are harmed and it loses money in the long run. Southern Indiana road projects should be public, and when contractors use inexperienced and unskilled labor, we have seen the appalling results.
Nick also believes that in Southern Indiana, cell phone service and high-speed internet service needs to be improved if we are going to compete for high-wage jobs in the modern economy. If telecommunications companies are going to take our money, it is time that they deliver the services that they promise.
Nick Siler is a Democrat. He doesn’t hide it, sugarcoat it, or say “I am a Democrat, but . . .” or try to take all sides of an issue. People in Southern Indiana don’t liked being talked down to, being told their opinion doesn’t matter or is uninformed, or being told what to think. Nick reminds people of what they like about Democrats, which should be a party of people who believe in taking care of the needs of children, the elderly, the sick, and the disabled, treating everyone with dignity and respect, and increasing opportunities for people who want to work for them. If elected, Nick’s votes and priorities in the General Assembly will not be for sale. Under the First Amendment, Americans have the right to freedom of speech. But Nick doesn’t believe money is speech; he believes money is property.
Yet Nick is receiving support and goodwill from Republicans throughout Crawford, Dubois, Harrison, Orange, Perry and Washington Counties because he promotes local governments, local control, faith and family, and small-town Hoosier values. Many of us believe that where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Nick thinks that we can build up our treasure by looking after each other and improving how state government treats our people, not by doing the bidding of wealthy special interests in exchange for campaign contributions.
Here’s why Nick is receiving the support of Republicans in each county of the 47th Senate District:
In Crawford County, Nick is receiving support from Republicans who recognize his interests in improving the area, who see him at church, at ballgames, at the courthouse, or at the grocery store, and who know he will work to see Crawford County grow and thrive. Crawford County Republicans know Nick will ensure that Crawford County Community Schools saved from a state government that is looking to punish rural school districts with low property values and a large amount of public lands. Indianapolis politicians don’t mind coming to Crawford County to put their boats in the water or walk through caves, but they don’t think the needs of our residents in infrastructure (including internet and cell phone service), education, and investment are their problem.
In Dubois County, Republicans like the fact that Nick supports Northeast Dubois and Southeast Dubois Schools. The Jeeps and Rangers are central to the identities of the parts of Dubois County that are in the 47th District, and Nick will ensure that the schools can continue to play a crucial role in preserving opportunities for the future. While many graduates from these school districts go on to do amazing things, Nick wants to ensure that they can go off to college, but then be able to return home and have a rewarding and successful career close to their homes, friends and family. Nick and his family look forward to seeing Dubois County Republicans and Democrats at church and town festivals coming up in summer and fall of 2018.
In Harrison County, Nick is proud to receive the support of Harrison County Republicans who look beyond the party name on the ballot to discern who wants to represent their interests in strong public schools, growing the economy, and seeing that Harrison County gets the best deal from state government they can. Harrison County Republicans know that if Nick is elected, he is not going to ignore their concerns and then turn around and run for another office. Nick hopes that Harrison County can take the next step in their development and grow even more after provision of strong broadband throughout the county, to get the high-paying jobs of the modern economy. While Harrison County Republicans know that voters have trended strongly in their direction, Nick is someone they can support. Once elected, voters want officials to work on the same team for the benefit of all, not be divided into the red or blue team. Nick will do that.
In Orange County, Republicans support Nick because he is a business owner in the county and sees many of them on a daily basis. Nick supports Paoli, Orleans and Springs Valley schools and local governments, and he will look out for the interests of the county, improving its infrastructure and dealing with the costs of crime. He is not beholden to any special interests. Nick wanted to be in Orange County because he admires the history and beauty of the area, but knows the poverty and challenges that many in the county face. He thinks that revenues for economic development should be directed where the benefits can be the greatest, right in Orange County. Broadband and cell phone service are crucial and efforts need to be made toward flood prevention in the Valley. He is against politicians looking to pit local governments against some of the largest employers and would work in the tradition of Jerry Denbo, Sandy Blanton, and Richard Young to improve the quality of life in Orange County. Orange County Republican voters and elected officials know that Nick will not sell them out, and know that Orange County is home for over 19,000 Hoosiers, and not just a luxury playground for the wealthy and powerful.
In Perry County, Nick is embraced by Perry County Republicans because they want a Senator who views their votes as something more than a launching pad to higher office. Nick shares the values and faith of many Perry County Republicans, and will work with school districts, local government, and law enforcement to make sure everyone in Indianapolis General Assembly knows where Perry County is and what they need. Perry County Republicans believe that public officials should serve the public interest, not their own, and that is why they will be voting for Nick in November (or maybe October, if they choose to vote early;-).
In Washington County, Nick is a graduate of Awareness Washington County, familiar with local issues and counts many Washington County Republicans as friends. Republican voters want the best for their county, they want the best for their schools, and Republican elected officials know that Nick has their interests at heart. They know that if elected, Nick promises to serve a 4-year term to the best of his ability, will put local concerns over political concerns, and will be a Senator they can be proud of, who will represent Washington County to Indianapolis, not represent Indianapolis to Washington County.