BLOOMINGTON, IN (WAVE) - Decision 2018 kicks off for WAVE Country with the Indiana primary on Tuesday, May 8.
One of the biggest races on the ballot - who will represent the state's Ninth Congressional District, as three Democrats hope to take back the seat from Republican incumbent Trey Hollingsworth.
Rob Chatlos, Dan Canon and Liz Watson are all vying for the chance to bring the district back to the Democrats.
"Hardworking Hoosiers deserve to get ahead. And right now we have a Congress and a representative that's trying to leave us behind," said Watson.
Watson said her career as a workers' rights attorney in Monroe County has prepared her for this.
"I am somebody who has been fighting for working people to be treated fairly my entire life," Watson said.
Supporting unions and bringing jobs to the region are important to her, Watson said, but it's health care she wants to tackle first.
"People have health insurance but still can't afford to fill their prescriptions," Watson said. "They're going without medicine and life-saving treatment they need, people are dying and going bankrupt because they can't afford healthcare costs. That's outrageous. We are the richest nation on Earth and I believe every single person in this country has the right to have health care when they get sick and I want to fight for that."
New Albany attorney Dan Canon said he was raised by a single mother in Henryville and dropped out of high school. Canon spent years getting to know the community, working as a professional musician before going back to get his GED and a law degree.
"Maybe we can put someone in this office that understands real problems, has experienced some of those real problems and is willing to work on real solutions, and not just rich guy stuff," Canon said.
Canon believes his time getting to know people in the music community, as well as his work as an attorney defending people's civil rights (which includes the landmark same-sex marriage decisions in front of the Supreme Court) will help him serve Hoosiers.
"I care deeply about individual rights and civil rights, and I see those under attack on a daily basis from the folks that are in charge in Washington," Canon said. "And I feel like we can do better than that."
Canon said health care and the opioid crisis need to be dealt with immediately, but his first move if elected would be creating multiple district offices that actually serve the people he would represent.
"And staffing it with people who really understand the community and really understand the resources that are available to people in the community and can direct them there or directly address the problem," Canon said.
He added that these offices would do everything from help connect people to opioid addiction resources to helping with visas and social security issues.
"I want to do the job. I want to make people's lives better. I want people to know they can trust their government, that they don't have to be afraid of it, that it belongs to them," said Rob Chatlos.
A truck driver and a veteran, Chatlos said he's no traditional politician and Washington needs more of that. Chatlos said diverse and inclusive candidates should be serving the American people, and that includes people with different social and economic backgrounds as well as those of different genders, ethnicities or sexual orientation.
"Diversity in background, economic diversity, people from different walks of life. And that's where your problem solvers are going to be," Chatlos said.
For real change to happen, Chatlos said there needs to be a strong voice that will truly reflect the district's people and their values. Having spent time working as a nurse, a farmer, a cattle rancher and serving the country overseas, Chatlos said he understands the issues in the district better than most.
An accessible voice in Congress and better health care standards are needed, Chatlos said, but the opioid crisis needs to be tackled.
"You know, the drug problem has created issues in education, child protection services, law enforcement, the jails are full. And it just, we have to fix it. We have to pour money into this problem. We have to train healthcare individuals, we have to do harm reduction because we know jailing people doesn't work," Chatlos said.
"I actually mirror the constituency for a change. I mean, I actually have the problems the majority of people in this district have. And I'm heeding that call," Chatlos said. "I think one of the reasons Trump was elected was he talked the talk, never intending to deliver. But people are fed up, they're disgusted - and I'm one of them."
"I'm the only candidate in this race that has represented people and gotten real results for them," Canon said. "And that requires you working and getting elbow deep with people you may not agree with, who may have done things you may not agree with, with people you maybe don't identify with on a visceral level. But you work with them."
"If you send a working mom to Congress, you just get somebody who's really going to push affordable child care and paid family leave and equal pay for equal work. Well, I've already actually done those things," Watson said. "So just imagine when you send me there, I'm going to get to work for us on day one, and I'm going to get results for our district, and that really matters."
The Indiana primary is Tuesday, May 8. Polls are open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., local time. Voters should check with their county about early voting.
The winner will likely face Hollingsworth, the incumbent Republican candidate, in November.