Candidates Speak in Lafayette Forum

Published Sunday 18 of April, 2010

Scott Allen, , Monticello Herald Journal

LAFAYETTE — Eleven of Indiana’s 4th District U.S. Representative candidates discussed the issues in a forum Friday presented by Greater Lafayette Commerce.

“I’m not sure that I’ve ever been involved in a discussion that had as many candidates,” said Mike Piggott, commerce board member and Purdue community relations director, who emceed the forum held at Lafayette Country Club.

Names were drawn to determine the order in which the nine Republican and two Democrat candidates would speak. They were each given three minutes to introduce themselves and one minute to answer each of three questions.

Dana Smith, director of Greater Lafayette Commerce’s chamber council, said he heard no bombshell responses from the candidates.

“Quite honestly, it was pretty much what I expected from the group, considering that we have Republicans and Democrats and different philosophical stances on things,” Smith said. “I didn’t hear anything that surprised me; I heard a couple of these candidates speak that I thought had some awfully good and very interesting answers.”

Smith pointed out that Greater Lafayette Commerce does not endorse candidates.

Democrat Dr. David Sanders, associate professor of the biological sciences department at Purdue, took part in the U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency’s Biological Weapons Proliferation Prevention Program thanks to his research on the Ebola virus and expertise in biodefense.

“It’s important to have scientists in Congress,” he said, citing biological and energy imperatives. “These issues are non-partisan but they’re very important.”

Sanders would also emphasize project-based education instead of working toward standardized tests.

Piggott first asked of the candidates what criteria they’d use to assess district requirements for federal assistance.

Several of the candidates would question whether it was necessary, and whether it was simply an earmark or pork barrel spending.

Still others would question its benefits to District 4.

“Is it a long term benefit for America, and will it create jobs in the 4th district?” Sanders said.