For Northwest Indiana, the choice for governor this year should be easy.
It's a three-way race between Democrat John Gregg, Republican Mike Pence and Libertarian Rupert Boneham.
With the exception of Northwest Indiana's Regional Education/Employer Alliance for Developing Youth, or READY, initiative to link workforce needs and education requirements — a model for regional reform efforts across Indiana — Pence's lack of knowledge about Northwest Indiana issues is telling.
When Pence met with The Times editorial board, we asked about the prospects of a land-based casino in Gary, then learned he hadn't heard of the proposal yet. Gregg, on the other hand, knew all about it.
The gaming industry is a large employer in Indiana, and its needs must be considered, Gregg said, to keep it strong. Pence said he wasn't inclined to expand gambling.
Gregg also was more knowledgeable, and more sympathetic, about the Cline Avenue bridge situation. "If that was sitting in Carmel, Indianapolis, that would have been done overnight," he said.
Instead, the Indiana Department of Transportation is turning over this formerly free route to a private company in exchange for the right to collect tolls on what was once a free state highway connecting Chicago and Northwest Indiana.
Gregg knows how this chafes here — sending northern Indiana tolls downstate, through Gov. Mitch Daniels' Major Moves program, then not getting the money for the state's share of rebuilding a major thoroughfare in Northwest Indiana. He wants to quickly get started on rebuilding the state's transportation infrastructure.
Pence said one of his first acts, if elected, would be to convene a blue-ribbon panel to think long term about Indiana's infrastructure.
Gregg said his first act would be to announce a blue-ribbon panel to implement a better Department of Child Services. "Children are being hurt; they are being abused or worse," Gregg said.
Both blue-ribbon panels would have merit.
Pence's best idea is to create an Indiana applied sciences research institute to help Hoosier businesses capitalize on research done at the state's outstanding universities.
Boneham, of "Survivor" fame, has strong ideas on rebuilding communities, some of which might be worth noting in Northwest Indiana.
Gregg wants to extend a rail line to better connect southwest and Northwest Indiana, to ship coal and grain more efficiently and to increase exports.
Gregg is pro-life and conservative in other ways, so don't consider him a typical liberal Democrat. He's a moderate.
Pence didn't discuss his social agenda, but his record in Congress, such as it is, is clear. Fiscal conservatism, of the type exemplified by Daniels, is more valuable to Indiana than the social conservative faction exemplified by Pence.
Gregg understands the value of bipartisanship and compromise, something that has been lost in Washington, D.C., and is threatened in Indianapolis. "We need to act like a Washington, Ind., rather than a Washington, D.C.," Gregg said.
We endorse Gregg.