My political resume is not long, but it is illustrative. I have effectively fought government corruption and wasteful spending. I found ways to actually make money for the taxpayer. I was able to work effectively, and respectfully, with Republicans, members of law enforcement, the courts, and community groups of all kinds. I am not a typical politician – and certainly don’t want to be (ugh) – but I got things done.
As an elected member of the Black Township Trustee Board, I played a key role in stopping an illegal, ineffective, and financially irresponsible drug testing operation that caused great harm to those it was intended to help. I also played a key role in exposing embezzlement and other criminal wrongdoing by the Trustee, who was directing money meant for Fire and Rescue and help the poor to herself and her relatives. I worked both with, and against, the Republicans on the board and in the Trustee’s office to accomplish these things.
I served on Posey County’s Community Corrections Board where I worked with law enforcement, the judiciary, and community groups to help ensure that that perpetrators of low level crime don’t end up back in jail. And I do regular volunteer work for Willow Tree of Posey County, an organization devoted to helping women who are victims of domestic and/or sexual abuse.
My long fight against the illegal drug testing operation shows how I work. I understand that reasonable people can disagree on the morality of drug testing the poorest, most desperate people in the community who have experienced some kind of catastrophe and need short term assistance for things like life-saving medicine or heat in winter.
I was able to show that morality aside, the illegal drug testing program was a catastrophic waste of taxpayer money, that it was costing something like $5000 to deny someone $200. I didn’t attack the Republicans for their morality. I knew them and most were normal, decent people. I appealed to their principles of financial responsibility to the taxpayer.
I was born in Evansville, raised in Mount Vernon, and went to school at IU, where I learned to practice journalism the old-fashioned, fact-based way. I’ve lived for long stretches in other places, both in the U.S. and abroad.
I’ve been a hard worker my entire life, and have held multiple jobs in many industries. My work history includes blue collar factory work, farm work, sales, services, IT, and media. I’ve run my own business on multiple occasions.
My first job was when I was six or so, selling greeting cards door to door. When I was 13, I began working in restaurants and did that off and on through college; starting as a dishwasher, then moving on to fry cook, busboy, delivery driver, and waiter. I also worked on farms as a kid. Jobs included detassleing corn, hoeing beans, and baleing hay. I worked for an excavating company helping clear woods for farmland, which included a lot of backhoe and chainsaw work. I spent five summers working at what was then General Electric. I worked in a different part of the factory each summer, doing everything from regular factory work to R&D for the scientists. One summer I worked on a fishing boat in Alaska, doing all kinds of backbreaking work, racking up 90 + hour workweeks. I worked in a bank. I worked in a call center for Turbo-tax, so have a deep understanding of how frustrating taxpaying can be.
As an adult, I spent most of my career in the publishing industry. I was a very accomplished project manager, I’ve worked in tech support, purchasing, systems administration, and consulting. After returning to Indiana and going into semi-retiremement, I was a newspaper editor and freelance writer and photographer. I run my own business as a web developer, photographer, and computer consultant. After coming out of semi-retirement, I help manage computer deployments for a large company’s North American operation.
So unlike the wealthy, out-of-touch types like Larry Bucshon and other career politicians, I have a deep understanding of what it’s like to work in all levels of multiple industries.
And I have a lot of painful experience working in a dying industry, experiencing wave after wave of massive layoffs, so I can relate to those in coal and other industries that are facing severe cuts because of technological advancements.
I’m not out there mouthing empty clichés about how I stand with the workers, the farmers, and the small businesspeople. I am a worker, I work with the workers. I know farmers. I’ve worked on a farm. I run a small business. I’ve hired people, including women and minorities. I’ve been laid off. I’ve made a lot of money. I’ve struggled to get by. I’ve raised a family and am helping pay off exorbitant student loans.
When I talk about expensive healthcare that covers next to nothing, with low paying jobs that don’t provide a decent middle class existence, with the difficulties of running a small business, with the catastrophically burdensome student loans, I understand what it’s like because I am really in touch with these issues, and I know how they painfully they burn.
Beyond any practical knowledge, that wide experience gives me a great foundation for learning more, for speaking with people, understanding their concerns, learning deeply about their issues, and working with them to craft solutions to their problems.
As I mentioned above, I was born and raised in southern Indiana. My grandparents were farmers in Point Township. My grandfather on my father’s side moved to town after the 1937 flood and was a woodworker in a hatchet factory for the rest of his life. He went 40 straight years without missing church on Sunday. My grandfather on my mother’s side left the farm and worked construction, building high tension power lines throughout the midwest. Some of my most prized memories are of riding around with him to different job sites, wearing a hard hat, eating hamburgers in small diners, and bird hunting with the dogs.
My grandmother was a seamstress and doll collector. She made fancy doll clothes that were prized by collectors and sold them at various doll shows in the region. My father was the first in his family to go to college (Wabash) and worked in local government for most of his adult life until retirement. He’s an active church member and involved with many community groups. My mother recently passed away. She worked at General Electric for 40 years and was very active in the Moose Lodge, serving as its treasurer and doing a lot to help fund their various charities.
I wanted adventure when I was young. I left town after high school and started college in Los Angeles where I worked a night job in a bank to support myself. I came back to Indiana and went to IU, where I graduated with a degree in Journalism. During my time at IU, I studied a year abroad in South America, hiked the Andes, and did a semester in Washington, D.C.. After college, I lived in France for a year and outfitted an expedition and drove across the Sahara, roughly 2000 miles of it off-road.
As an adult, I spent most of my career in the publishing industry. I worked in tech support, purchasing, systems administration, and consulting. I’ve done work at Reader’s Digest, AARP, Prudential, Merrill Lynch and a host of other important companies.
During all that time away, I made frequent visits to Indiana to visit family, and the desire to move back here grew stronger as the years went by.
After returning to Indiana and going into semi-retirement, I was a newspaper editor, freelance write, photographer and ran my own online news site. I run my own business as a web developer, photographer, and computer consultant. After coming out of semi-retirement to help pay for my kid’s college, I have a day job helping manage computer deployments across North America for a large industrial company.
I believe that is a very good life history for a congressperson representing Southwestern Indiana. Growing up in a small town in Indiana is just about the best way I can think of to prepare for life in the bigger world. In a small town, you know the poorest people, the richest people, the best people, and the worst. You know small towns are not all white picket fences and good honest people. But you know that’s a big part of it.
Spending time away from Indiana is important as well. Knowing different people from different parts of the U.S. and the world is essential preparation for getting the most out of Congress for the people of this district. I’ve known and worked with wealthy coastal elites and am not at all intimidated by them. I’ve worked with people of many different colors and many different cultures. On the most essential level, the rich, the poor, the light-skinned, the dark are people just like everyone else. But people from all these different backgrounds have their differences as well. It’s good to be able to recognize what those are, and be comfortable with them. A successful congressperson must be able to work with a lot of different kinds of people.
The local background, the outside experiences, the years of dedication to family, not being a political animal – these are all part of my unique qualifications to be your representative in Congress.
So read on. Explore the website. Feel free to ask questions or make suggestions. Check back often. There will be a lot of new content.