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Negele and Straw seeking IN House District 13 seat

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Sharon Negele has served as Attica’s clerk-treasurer since 2003. She and her husband own Wolf’s Fine Chocolates. She nearly beat the House District 42 incumbent two years ago and is giving it another shot in the new district.

“I’m not a quitter and in some cases, I’ve been described as the bulldog," she says with a laugh. "I just won’t give up until I succeed.”

As an example of her persistence, Negele says she helped a neighboring town clean-up its finances even after the State Board of Accounts had given up trying.

“It was the biggest disaster I could have ever imagined. They hadn’t paid in payroll taxes. They hadn’t paid in sales tax. It took me nine months to clean-up their mess. They had to do a rate adjustment on their utilities so they could start bringing more revenues in. State Board of Accounts – I kind of became a hero to them, because they thought it was impossible for anybody to ever clean it up.”

The other eye-opening experience she had during that process was what she calls a lack of oversight by the State Board of Accounts and her disbelief of how auditors let things get that bad.

“They have really no stick. They would just write them up and then nothing else happened, and that’s wrong. So, is State Board of Accounts really doing the proper auditing of these agencies? Something I have to look into.”

Negele is running against Democrat Mark Straw. He and his wife own a livestock and crop farm in Warren County and he works as the executive administrator of the Indiana State Egg Board. This is his first run for public office and he says he’s really not a politician.

“If you look at my literature, I don’t list a party. Yes, I am running as a Democrat, but I think one of the challenges that we face in any governing system is the partisanship that has been created.”

Straw is touting his bipartisan nature with the endorsement of Republican Dan Young, who lost to Negele in the May Primary Election.

“We’ve got to learn to work across the aisles again," he says. "Come up with solutions that Indiana residents need.”

Straw says he wants to make government more transparent, create a simpler tax system and make it fairer, especially for Hoosier farmers. He thinks the most important issue that’s coming up for agriculture is the productivity index as it applies to property tax evaluations.

"If that new formula goes through, those with agricultural lands, could see as much as a 40% increase in property taxes. That’s pretty significant, especially after this year because of the reassessment of land values. My property, as an example, went up almost 18% in property taxes this year. You couple with that the potential for another 40% next year – it’s a huge issue in rural America.”

Education, infrastructure and job development are the main issues Straw is promoting during his campaign. He says the three are intertwined and equally important.

“We need to build entrepreneurship at the local level. Train our employees at the local level to get those job skills so that we can increase employment.”

Negele also thinks the state could improve education when it comes to vocational training. She says major employers in District 13 are having a hard time finding skilled workers.

Negele also wants to make college more affordable for students.

“Allowing better transfers of credits between colleges, keeping tuition between a range that is considered acceptable by the state.”

Straw says state support of higher education is dwindling and thinks universities are being forced to focus more on raising revenue rather than educating students. He wants a breakdown of the true cost of educating a college student for four years.

On K-12 education, both candidates say they want to see how recent reforms play out, but Straw says he’s hearing complaints about the teacher evaluation system, while Negele finds more people concerned about the A-through-F grading system for schools.

When asked about their main differences,

Negele says her business and finance background will better serve constituents. For Straw, he says his experience in agriculture and science is the better fit for District 13.

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