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Gary Snyder steps up to the plate

By NANCY R. ELLIOTT - nelliott@h-ponline.com

HUNTINGTON — Gary Snyder is not afraid of a challenge. In a sea of GOP candidates for a variety of offices, Snyder has stepped up to the plate as a Democratic candidate for the State Senate District 17 seat currently held by Republican Andy Zay. Zay represents Wabash County and parts of Huntinton, Whitley and Grant counties. Last Wednesday night, Snyder addressed the public during a meeting of the Huntington County Democratic party at the Huntington City-Township Public Library, outlining his agenda.

“There are things happening in this state that just don’t add up,” Snyder said in prefacing his vision. He outlined five key areas.

“We’re going to focus on wage growth,” said Snyder. He noted that District 17 does not keep up with the state. He wants to revive the common construction wage, promote an increase in the minimum wage and promote repeal of right-to-work. He also said he wants to promote a tax system that works for middle class families.

He noted that workers have been on the losing end with the advent of right-to-work. He said that Indiana comes in anywhere from 37th to 42nd relative to wages.

“They like to tout that Indiana is number one for business,” said Snyder. He continued, “But it’s 42nd for workers.” He said that implementing his strategies would help to get business and workers on a more equal footing.

Snyder’s second area of focus is education.

“We want a fair and fully-funded public education system here in Indiana,” he said. Snyder noted disparities, saying that not one school in the district gets the state average. He wants to see the end of ISTEP and teaching to the test. He also wants to promote pre-K education.

Snyder noted that there is a teacher shortage in the state, and that the legislature’s response was to propose allowing up to 10 percent of the teaching staff to be non-licensed.

“That’s not giving your child a quality education,” said Snyder.

Also on Snyder’s radar is the Department of Child Services.

He said there are more than 29,000 children in need of services in Indiana. He said that Indiana has twice as many children in need with one half as many case workers compared to surrounding states.

“Children are dying,” said Snyder. He disparaged the current legislature’s approach. “Children need protection, not a summer study committee.”

Audience members expressed deep concern over DCS issues, particularly a lack of caseworkers for an ever-increasing group of children.

“It’s more of a state initiative of not hiring,” Snyder said. He archly noted that children are not corporations. “They’re not wealthy. They can’t vote.”

Snyder also seeks to pursue legalizing medical marijuana and CBD oil. He suggested that treatment for illness rather than criminalization is a more apt approach to the issues.

“We can’t arrest our way out of these problems,” said Snyder.

Finally, the self-proclaimed teetotalling ‘Cold Beer Man’ is on board for cold beer sales on Sundays.

“We laugh, but for so long, there’s been no alcohol on Sundays,” said Snyder. “If something is legal on Saturday, it should be legal on Sunday.” He questioned why lobbying groups should hold sway on the matter.

Snyder’s comments were warmly received by a group of more than 20 members of the public. Some of them posed questions that touched on education, DCS, gerrymandering and more.

In closing, while acknowledging the uphill battle, Snyder said the challenge was not taken on lightly.

“There’s nothing I would like better than to take Jim Banks’ old seat and turn it blue,” said Snyder.

Snyder is the President of Indiana Talks Network and hosted The Gary Snyder Show on 1400 WBAT in Marion and 1190 WOWO in Ft. Wayne. His background includes work in the financial services industry.

He served in the United States Army as a light infantryman, 10th Mountain Division, and the National Guard as an infantryman and military police.

Snyder has been married to his wife, Pepper, for 22 years. They have seven children and four grandchildren, and have also served as foster parents.

Snyder will appear on the May 8 Democratic ballot.