A politician with lots of name recognition in Lake County faces off against a relative newcomer in the race to be the first representative for the newly created 11th District, which covers southern Lake and Porter counties.
Lake County Councilman Rick Niemeyer, a Republican and auctioneer whose father served in the state Legislature, said the new district has a diverse population of small businesses, agriculture and union-based workers.
"The No. 1 priority is to make sure the new district represents the needs of the people in it and the needs of Indiana," he said.
He said he wants to create a climate to attract new, small businesses as well as boost existing businesses which, in turn, would create jobs.
Eliminating or reducing the personal property tax on equipment would be one way to help businesses and the workers they would hire, he said.
Another priority for Niemeyer is the Illiana Expressway.
"We need absolutely to make sure Indiana is represented fairly in the Illiana issue," he said of the Illinois/Indiana venture to build a new highway connecting Interstates 65 and 55.
He said the toughest decisions lie ahead, and he has particular concerns regarding funding for the expressway and the need for Indiana legislators to be watchful.
Relative newcomer John Hart, a Democrat and paramedic, has lived in Cedar Lake since 2005. He has never held public office, but has held elected union positions.
Like Niemeyer, he sees jobs as a priority.
"I don't like the way things are going in our state. ... In 2010, legislators attacked people working with Right to Work (law)," he said.
He would work to repeal that law as well as require all contractors winning state projects to employ 90 percent Hoosiers on those state projects. Hoosier-owned companies should be given preference by receiving a 10 percent credit on bid amounts, he said.
Companies should be banned from making hiring decisions based on credit scores, nor should they be allowed to compel potential employees to provide personal social networking access information, Hart said.
Both candidates feel strongly about education.
"I want every family to have the ability to have choices in education," Niemeyer said, while Hart opposes vouchers that take funding away from public schools, he said.