9th District candidates agree Congress is problem, disagree how to solve it


By Hannah Troyer

FRANKLIN, Ind. – In a congenial candidate forum Monday at Franklin College, incumbent U.S. Rep. Todd Young acknowledged that incremental change is the goal when trying to turn around a political system he calls dysfunctional.

Democrat Bill Bailey said during a forum Monday at Franklin College that he supports term limits. Photo by Kiley Lipps, TheStatehouseFile.com

But the men trying to unseat him – Democrat Bill Bailey and Libertarian Mike Frey – said it’s time for a change. Now.

Frey told audience members that there is a third choice when voting this November – Libertarian.

“Washington is full of professional politicians. They go to Washington and never leave,” Frey said. “I want to bring the private sector perspective to Congress. It’s time to bring in someone who can balance the budge and knows how to do it. I have come to the conclusion that both parties are big government parties. The two parties are one.”

Frey, a first time candidate, used the debate in part to say that the candidates should be appearing together more often to give voters a chance to see the three men interact. Bailey on the other hand, used the debate to talk about his government experience as he returned to the political scene after retirement.

Bailey was Seymour’s mayor and decided to run for Congress after witnessing the sequester and government shut down. Before ending his retirement, Bailey spent more than 100 days weighting the decision to run for Congress and realized it was the right thing for him to do.

“(Running) interrupts my now retirement. This interrupts my bucket list. But, it’s worth it,” Bailey said. “This isn’t about me. It’s not going to be a career. This is about my children and grandchildren.”

The Democratic Party stands for “people first,” he said. “It’s more about people than corporations. It’s time we have more people thinking about people.”

After serving in the U.S. House since 2011, Young acknowledged that Congress functions poorly. All three candidates agreed the Democratic and Republican parties need to work together so the federal government can be more productive.

Incumbent Rep. Todd Young, R-9th District, said Monday that Congess is not functioning as well as it should. Photo by Kiley Lipps, TheStatehouseFile.com

Young believes he is part of the solution in bipartisan issues rather than the problem.

He also told audience members that there is a disconnect between the public and Congress. Young wants voters to understand that change to big issues like the economy and healthcare – which both Bailey and Frey wish to change – does not happen quickly.

“There needs to be more of an effort to reach out across party lines, fewer attacks, and more specific, concrete solutions,” Young said. “My work in Congress isn’t done yet. I’m proud of the work we’ve done in my office in what is a dysfunctional time. We will solve some of these pressing issues in another couple congressional terms. My background and temperament can be part of the solution.”

After each candidate talked with mediator, John Krull, the director of the Pulliam School of Journalism at Franklin College, about why he was running and where he stood on various issues, audience members were able to write down questions. Each candidate was given a turn to address each one.

One of those questions concerned the terrorist group ISIS or ISIL. Young said he was “disturbed by the uncritical eye that many have brought to the issue of ISIS.  He also addressed the fact that lawmakers continually heard conflicting information about ISIS and its threat.

Libertarian Mike Frey said Monday that neither major party represents small government. Photo by Kiley Lipps, TheStatehouseFile.com

Bailey said he believes that “diplomacy might be the best first shot to fire instead of out of a gun” when dealing with ISIS.

Frey said he believes other countries in the Middle East should handle the ISIS conflict. But if the United States must get involved, he wants the country’s military generals to handle the fighting strategy – not the federal government.

All three candidates said job growth can happen if the private sector is expanded.

Each also said he will do the most good in Washington. The election is Nov. 4.

Hannah Troyer is a reporter at TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.