Where candidates for Indiana’s 9th congressional district stand on key issues
JEFFERSONVILLE, Ind. (WAVE) - In the three-way race for Indiana’s 9th congressional district, two-term incumbent, Rep. Trey Hollingsworth (R-9) is facing both a progressive and conservative opponent.
Democratic challenger Andy Ruff, who served 20 years on the Bloomington city council, touts his homegrown ties to Southern Indiana. Libertarian challenger Tonya Millis, a real estate broker with no prior political experience, believes it is her time to serve her community.
Speaking to WAVE 3 News, each candidate shared their views on key issues in the election.
Q: How do you believe the federal government, including Congress, has handled the COVID-19 response?
Hollingsworth: Do I wish that we could do more? Absolutely. Do I think the federal government has moved as fast as possible to create as many better outcomes as possible whether that’s through the stimulus, whether it’s through special unemployment benefits, whether it’s through the PPP that helped keep our small businesses open through all of this? I do think we’ve done an excellent job but I think that there’s much more that we need to do.
Ruff: The federal government’s response has been awful, been terrible, in terms of the execution of priorities and needs and systematically addressing, providing what’s needed in terms of a plan, in terms of protective gear or testing or tracing. It’s been a dismal failure. The example that representatives in Congress have set has been pretty much awful. It’s no wonder the US has been in the mess we are in compared to a lot of other places in the world as a result of this pandemic.
Millis: Congress is not the executive. I believe in the constitution, we have article four of the constitution, we have the 10th amendment. The people in each state through their own state representative and their governors can figure out what they want to do as far as mandates or not having mandates. I do think that we need to be respectful of each other.
Q: What would you push for in Congress to help Indiana’s economic recovery?
- Hollingsworth: First and foremost this is a biological crisis and we need to address it from a biological standpoint. The development of a vaccine that we are weeks to months away from, making sure that we expedite that as quickly as possible while making sure it is as safe and effective as possible is hugely important. Nothing is going to do more for the economy. Secondarily, making sure that those families that cannot go back to work, making sure there are resources and tools there for them during the course of this pandemic. Third, I think it’s really important that we continue to provide support to those industries that have been hardest hit.
- Ruff: Of course you need a stimulus package but it needs to be even more than the prior package and it needs to be directed at ordinary folks. We need to provide an income stream to people in need. They need access to healthcare. They need to know about employment and their future. We cannot just shovel money unaccountably to large corporations. That’s not my view of how we’ll weather the economic effect of this pandemic. It is to provide ordinary folks with housing support, income support, and healthcare for everybody. Opening up the economy without a plan in place to do it safely, that doesn’t affect Trey Hollingsworth. In addition to that, it’s just dumb, we’ve seen it, you open the economy without an adequate plan to protect people and it just sets back the economy.
- Millis: The United States has no money, we are broke. I know sometimes people say we’ve been talking about the debt and deficit for years, but we are getting to the point where the value of the US dollar is going to fall. It won’t be too much longer before the Mexican peso is worth more. I think before we start handing out money like with the stimulus, at the same time, you need to cut the budget, we need a balanced budget. I know it’s hard for people to understand the numbers but that’s where I’m at on that.
Q: Beyond the pandemic, what would your other priorities be if elected?
- Hollingsworth: Security, security, security. Making sure we have economic security. Ensuring that people can get back to work safely, that they have the opportunity to reopen their businesses, that they have the opportunity to create that financial future that matters most. Secondarily, making sure that they have security in their communities and us as a country. Making sure that we continue to back law enforcement.
- Ruff: We need to change the economy so that we focus on empowering labor, increasing wages, providing capital and access to resources for small businesses and entrepreneurs who want to come up and create opportunities in their communities. We need to provide healthcare to everybody guaranteed. I want to build up the infrastructure of the community and that includes not just bridges and roads but strong public schools and access to healthcare that allows people to take full advantage of their ideas and their ability to create local economic activity.
- Millis: Rules, regulations, and runaway debt. My campaign is called the roll it back the campaign. The goal is to get enough people in Congress, like-minded people, to put the breaks on. We have too many laws, rules, and regulations on the books. Most people are unaware of what all their laws and restrictions are because there’s so many. We need to put a stop to this. We cannot let our elected officials just go willy-nilly and put the thumb down on us.
Q: What is your view of the Affordable Care Act? Would you support or oppose it in Congress?
- Hollingsworth: I firmly believe that the ACA eliminated so much competition in the healthcare insurance space and ultimately didn’t enable or empower Hoosiers to be able to buy the type of health insurance they want. Making sure that we provide every Hoosier the opportunity to buy the type of healthcare that fits their families is very important to me.
- Ruff: The economic success and vitality of the country is diminished and sapped by the mess that our current healthcare system is. This private, corporate profit-driven system – we need a public, health outcomes driven system that will make our communities healthier. I’m advocating for a universal single payer system, it’s now called Medicare for all, and yes I support that model.
- Millis: I believe in free market principles. I do know that my Democrat opponent is for Medicare for all. He claims to be a progressive which isn’t going to play well in Indiana’s 9th district. I’m going to represent the people of my district not people in Los Angeles or Chicago and that’s not what they want.
Q: How do you believe police departments should be reformed if at all?
- Hollingsworth: Some of the tragedies we’ve seen across the country are absolute that, just terrible tragedies, that I think are antithetical to the policing that I see every single day in the district. When I talk with law enforcement what I hear from them is them trying to do absolutely everything they can to make sure everyone in their community feels safe and has the opportunity when abiding by the law to create their best future. I want to make sure we do everything we can to close the gap between who we want to be and who we are right now. I, frankly, applaud many of the calls to improve the resources that we’re delivering to police and to social workers and others where cycles of poverty have existed for far too long. That doesn’t come by defunding police but it does come by good policing and good policy.
- Ruff: This idea that we’re going to abolish the police or something is ridiculous. Policing is an absolutely essential and necessary part of day to day life for communities across the country. If you’re going to call it defunding to move funds around and have police departments not doing some things they would probably prefer not to be doing, they probably wouldn’t object to that idea either. Are there probably in some departments expenditures on equipment and weaponry that I definitely have issues with that shouldn’t be in civil police departments? If that’s what we consider defunding that’s something I think that can be looked at too as reasonable. Policing is an essential part of the day to day responsibilities of local governments across the country.
- Millis: Thanks to modern technology, cameras on your cellphones, people have been able to capture on video much of the wrongs that have been going on in our community for over 100 years; the brutality and the cruelty. Now that people who were ignorant of what was going on are seeing this with their own eyes, local community leaders are working with local officials and they’re starting to weed out the racists. It’s been too long of a slow process, but it is moving in the right direction. It does need to be the local community leaders working with the local officials.
Q: Why should Hoosiers vote for you?
- Hollingsworth: I want to make sure our values resound in Washington. From day one I’ve been most focused on reforming the way Washington works. I’m the house’s biggest leader on term limits, I’m the house’s biggest leader on lobbying bans. We’ve got to make sure our Hoosier values are resounding in DC. I do that by every single day by listening to you, meeting with you, picking up the phone and calling you to make sure I’m working on the issues that matter most to you.
- Ruff: The primary difference between the incumbent and myself is I am an ordinary, lifetime Hoosier who has served an ordinary 9th district Hoosier community for 20 years and I’m running for Congress because I want to make things better for ordinary communities, ordinary people, protect the lands and farms in our districts. That’s what is motivating me to run for Congress. I’m going to be a voice, a conduit for ordinary folks to be heard in Washington, D.C. and to represent the needs and priorities of the 9th district.
- Millis: For decades now I’ve been watching our liberties and freedoms slowly being whittled away over the years. I just felt compelled to stand up and serve. This is not a career move, I like being a real estate broker. It just is my time to serve. I think our founding fathers wanted people in their communities to take their turn serving their neighbors, representing the constituents. It wasn’t supposed to be lifetime appointments or career politicians.
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