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New representative headed for 12th House District
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New representative headed for 12th House District

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The 65,000 residents of Munster, Highland, the south side of Hammond and parts of Griffith are getting a new representative in the 12th District for the Indiana House

Democrat Mike Andrade, of Munster, and Republican Tom Wichlinski, of Griffith, are on the ballot in the Nov. 3 general election to replace outgoing state Rep. Mara Candalaria Reardon, D-Munster.

She had been the voice of the 12th House since her election in 2006.

Reardon chose not to run for reelection this year and instead joined a heated Democratic primary race June 2 for the U.S. Congress 1st District seat being vacated by Peter Visclosky. She lost to fellow Democrat Frank Mrvan.

The 12th House District’s voters nominated Andrade from among three Democratic contestants in the same primary.

Wichlinski ran unopposed in the Republican primary.

Jim Wieser, Lake County Democratic Party chairman, said Andrade is running for public office for the first time and he couldn’t have picked a better time.

Andrade's priorities

“We were looking for someone to replace Mara. He’s smart, well-liked and energetic,” Wieser said of Andrade.

Andrade said he would advocate for higher base teacher pay and help small Hoosier businesses navigate the financial upheaval being caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

He said he would also work to repeal Indiana’s Right-to-Work law that discourages union representation for private business employees and press the state to encourage businesses to pay their employees a living wage, pension benefits as well as affordable health care.

Andrade grew up in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood. He now lives in Indiana and operates a small real estate investment business.

He has been endorsed by a number of labor organizations, including the Indiana AFL-CIO, United Steelworkers, Northwest Indiana Building Construction Trades Council and Operating Engineers Local 150.

Wichlinski active for decades

Wichlinski said he running for public office for the first time, but has been politically active in the Griffith Republican Party since moving to town two decades ago.

He said he has supported the elections of Republicans in town government.

Wichlinski is a sales consultant in private business. He currently is vice chairman of the Little Calumet River Basin Commission, which oversees the construction of flood levees that protect hundreds of homes and businesses built near the waterway and its tributary branches.

He said his work on setting budgets for the commission over the past 11 years has given him valuable financial management experience in working on large projects.

If elected, he said he would demand greater state resources for economic development within the district, which he calls a gateway into Indiana. “We need our fair share of funding,” he said.

He said he also supports better pay for entry-level teachers to abolish the disparity in pay in other states that makes Indiana less competitive for high-quality teachers.

Wichlinski said he has gained the endorsements of the Griffith town officials, the Griffith Fraternal Order of Police and Todd Rokita, the Republican candidate for Indiana attorney general, a former Indiana congressman and a Munster native.

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