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> Harris vs Arnold in the 8th district
post Oct 12 2012, 01:14 PM
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By KEVIN ALLEN - Follow me @KevinAllenSBT South Bend Tribune

7:41 p.m. EDT, October 11, 2012
Jim Arnold has been an Indiana state senator since 2007 and wants another four-year term. The LaPorte Democrat, a former county sheriff, says there's more work to do in the Statehouse.

Eric Harris, on the other hand, said District 8 needs a fresh face and a new voice. The South Bend Republican, at 26 years old, said a win Nov. 6 would make him the Indiana Senate's youngest member and the first black Republican senator in state history.

Arnold, 68, said the next General Assembly will need to address several issues: economic development, education, concerns in the state's Department of Child Services, and finding a strategy to fund major road improvements as the Major Moves program, with money from the Indiana Toll Road lease, comes to a close.

He added that he's showed a willingness to work with Republicans, and he will continue to do that.

"When it boils down to it, there are 150 of us down there (in the General Assembly) trying to do the best job we can," he said. "If I've had any success in life, it's because I've tried to work with everybody."

Arnold said Indiana is already highly ranked on several lists of business-friendly states. Now, he said, state leaders have to market those advantages to potential employers.

He added that the state has taken too much control from schools in recent years and placed too much emphasis on standardized test scores. The nation's largest school-voucher program, which GOP majorities approved in 2011, has taken more funding from public schools, he said.

"Public tax dollars should be for public education," Arnold said. "I feel very strongly that our public school teachers need more support."

Harris said his top priorities in the Senate would be recruiting businesses to Indiana, maintaining a balanced budget while looking to cut more spending, and improving the education system.

"I have the youth, and having no records on legislative issues is a plus," he wrote in an e-mail to The Tribune. "The voters need a fresh start, and I'm ready to roll up my sleeves so we (voters and I) can work together."

Harris said he would meet with business leaders and try to bring factories and other long-term investments to the district as well as improve rail networks for transporting those companies' goods. He also said he'll be visible at local school meetings to offer input on improving education.

"The first goal is to protect our teachers who have shown strong performance in the classroom," Harris said, explaining that seniority is good but lawmakers must also push to retain high-performing teachers and provide better pay based on classroom performance.

Harris wouldn't tell The Tribune where he's employed or what he does for work, but he wrote in a press release before the May primary that he is willing to commit full time to his duties as state senator.

Harris' campaign website is ericharris2012.com.

Arnold does not have a campaign website. His state senator page is www.in.gov/legislative/senate_democrats/homepages/s8.

Staff writer Kevin Allen:
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