LOWELL | Democratic Town Councilman Phillip Kuiper said Saturday he plans to make a bid for the Indiana House seat being vacated by Rick Niemeyer, R-Lowell.
Kuiper said he plans to file Tuesday to run in the May primary for the seat in House District 11, which includes a part of St. John, Cedar Lake, Lowell and much of southern Porter County.
"I will bring lots of energy and a large voice," Kuiper said.
Niemeyer filed last week to run for the 6th District Senate seat currently held by Sue Landske, R-Cedar Lake.
Landske announced earlier this month she will not seek re-election in the wake of a lung cancer diagnosis.
Kuiper said state Democratic Party leaders have been urging him to run for a couple of years. He said he decided to run after talking with Indiana House Democratic Leader Scott Pelath, D-Michigan City.
"I've been in local, town politics going on 12 years. There are a lot of things you can get done, but there's a percentage you can't get done without a voice," Kuiper said. "Towns like Lowell, Hebron and Kouts don't have the money to pay a lobbyist. We don't have a mayor."
He said he will have an "open agenda" until he learns more about the issues facing all residents of the 11th District.
"I'm proud to be a blue-collar worker. I've had 29 years in manufacturing, and I'm still working. We need more plants like where I work in the state," Kuiper said.
He's employed by Avery Dennison in Lowell.
With a daughter going into teaching and a son in the U.S. Marines, Kuiper said he has strong personal feelings about education and opportunities for military personnel returning home to Indiana.
"Rick made my decision easier," Kuiper said of Niemeyer's decision to seek the Senate seat.
Kuiper said he was prepared to make the run regardless.
"It had to be the right time for me, and now is the right time," Kuiper said.