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Lieutenant Governor Candidates Debate

Brandon Smith, Indiana Public Broadcasting

Two candidates for Indiana Lieutenant Governor met Tuesday in a debate that touched on topics ranging from rural and agricultural issues to infrastructure, government regulation, and annexation.

An oft-mentioned issue was the need for greater broadband accessibility in rural Indiana.

Republican Suzanne Crouch says more private grants are becoming available to address that issue.

“We need to be a strong voice in the legislature to make sure they take the steps that will connect all of our rural communities, not just our farmers but our businesses and our schools,” Crouch says.

Democrat Christina Hale cites a low-interest loan program in the Democratic ticket’s infrastructure plan that could be used for broadband.

“And also, we’re not afraid to take money from the federal government,” Hale says. “There is a good number of grants available from the federal government today.”

The two candidates also talked energy policy, with Hale bemoaning the lack of a state energy strategy under the current GOP administration.

“Now, we do need to diversify our energy portfolio,” Hale says. “It’s based on about 80 percent coal, that’s not sustainable over time. Coal will continue to be a very, very important part of that energy portfolio.”

Crouch stresses the importance of some alternative energy sources,

“These wind farms or these ethanol plants are a major economic development engine in those communities and they provide jobs,” Crouch says.

The Libertarian candidate for lieutenant governor, Karl Tatgenhorst, did not respond to invitations to participate in the debate.

The lieutenant governor's office oversees five agencies related to small business and entrepreneurial development, agriculture and rural affairs, defense development, housing and community development and tourism.

Brandon Smith is excited to be working for public radio in Indiana. He has previously worked in public radio as a reporter and anchor in mid-Missouri for KBIA Radio out of Columbia. Prior to that, he worked for WSPY Radio in Plano, Illinois as a show host, reporter, producer and anchor. His first job in radio was in another state capitol, in Jefferson City, Missouri, as a reporter for three radio stations around Missouri. Brandon graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Bachelor of Journalism in 2010, with minors in political science and history. He was born and raised in Chicago.
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