All three candidates for governor addressed members of Indiana’s agricultural community Tuesday at the Farm Bureau’s gubernatorial candidate forum.
Republican Eric Holcomb, Democrat John Gregg and Libertarian Rex Bell, sought to connect themselves with a rural audience. But the issues they discussed weren’t limited to those affecting only the agriculture community.
Asked about road funding, Gregg connected infrastructure issues to every corner of the state.
“As you saw with I-65 being closed last year, it affects more than just the people that travel that road, it affects a wide swath of an area," Gregg said.
For Holcomb’s part, he said Indiana is off to a good start on road funding with 2016 legislation that sent nearly $500 million to local communities for roads.
Libertarian Rex Bell says the conversation must start with reforming the funding structure.
“If we would use all of our road use taxes, 100 percent on the roads, I think we’d be pleasantly surprised with how much money we had for them,” Bell said.
None of the candidates are big fans of involuntary annexation, where a municipality extends its boundaries without an "OK" from the landowners.
“The bottom line is, there has to be agreement on both ends,” Holcomb said.
When Gregg addressed the issue, he spoke from his perspective of living on a farm in rural southwestern Indiana.
“I’m all for local control, but local control also means that those of us that live in farms have a say, have a voice,” Gregg said.
Bell was the bluntest of the three.
“I’ve never been a fan of forced annexation,” Bell said. “I think it’s a gross abuse of government power.”
The candidates will meet in three formal debates beginning next month.