Rep. Carey Hamilton, D-Indianapolis, was elected serve District 87 in the Indiana House of Representatives in 2016, when she defeated Republican challenger Connie Eckert. Previous office holder, Democrat Christina Hale, decided not to run for re-election when she began her unsuccessful bid for lieutenant governor. This year, Hamilton faces off against Republican challenger Paula Finch.
CANDIDATE PROVIDED BIOGRAPHY
INCUMBENT: Carey Hamilton
Rep. Carey Hamilton was sworn in to office Nov. 22, 2016. Carey has earned a reputation for working across the aisle on pragmatic solutions to move Indiana forward. She is passionate about working in a fiscally responsible and bi-partisan manner to keep our neighborhoods strong, grow the middle class, ensure quality K-12 public education for all, and invest in our infrastructure as well as our environment.
Prior to serving in the legislature, Carey worked in the environmental field for more than 20 years. Most recently, Carey was the Executive Director of the Indiana Recycling Coalition (IRC). In that role, Carey worked with manufacturers and local governments to grow recycling and create new green jobs. Under her leadership, the IRC won two national awards recognizing it as a leader among state recycling organizations.
In addition, Carey is a board member of Washington Township’s Advancement Center, Keep America Beautiful and the National Recycling Coalition. She is also a 2011 graduate of the Stanley K. Lacy Executive Leadership Program, a 2013 graduate of the Institute for Conservation Leadership’s Executive Leadership Program, and was named one of the Indianapolis Business Journal’s “Forty Under 40” up-and-coming leaders in 2010.
Carey is a graduate of Pike High School and has a bachelor’s degree from Indiana University-Bloomington. She is married to Derek Hamilton and has two sons: one attends Eastwood Middle School and the other attends North Central High School. You can follow her on Twitter, like her on Facebook, or visit her website.
CHALLENGER: Paula Finch
Paula is a lifelong Hoosier and grew up in Washington Township. She was a Greenbrier Elementary Gopher, a Westlane Middle School Wildcat, and a North Central High School Panther. She holds a B.A. from Purdue University and a J.D. from the Indiana University School of Law.Paula has been a practicing business attorney since 2003. She is a proud wife, mother, and daughter prepared to serve our community. Paula and her husband, Mark, have been married for 14 years and have been blessed with two fantastic sons. Her children attend Allisonville and John Strange Elementary Schools.
As an attorney, Paula has represented clients with a variety of backgrounds. She has worked with large multi-state businesses representing them in acquisitions, with family-owned businesses starting up new enterprises, with individuals just starting down the path of entrepreneurship, and with corporate clients enhancing their business development teams. Her wide range of experience combined with a positive attitude and attention to detail has resulted in both her clients, and opposing counsel, complimenting her skills and style.
Paula is an entrepreneur herself. Her firm is a certified Women’s Business Enterprise (WBE). She actively supports minority and women owned businesses to help them grow. She believes in positive servant leadership and understands how to listen and counsel her clients to make informed decisions while retaining a warm and approachable demeanor. When she is not helping clients, Paula gives her time to a variety of organizations. Paula has been a devoted supporter of Second Helpings, Inc. for well over a decade. She is a member of the National Association of Women’s Business Owners (NAWBO), the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) and its regional partner organization, the Mid-States Minority Supplier Development Council, Women Owned Law, and the Indianapolis and Indiana State Bar Associations. Paula is a member of the Juvenile Detention Center Advisory Board and she is a frequent volunteer at Allisonville Elementary School. Paula is a proud member of the 2017-2018 class of the Lugar Series Excellence in Public Service Series.
QUESTION FOR THE INCUMBENT
[Editor's note: Candidates choose their first question from the complete list of NUVO reader questions we received; they may be different questions]
NUVO: Our reader, Steven Cornett, asks: Will you pledge not to take away funding from public education? Do you support raises for our public school teachers?
Hamilton: Maintaining high quality public education is crucial to our state’s future. The Indiana Coalition for Public Education recently rated legislators on an A-F grading scale based on our voting records. I received an “A” grade based on my commitment to strengthening the state’s system of public education. Regarding teacher pay, shamefully, Indiana’s teachers now earn almost 16 percent less than they did two decades ago. Teachers are taking on second jobs or leaving the field because they can’t support a family on shrinking salaries. If re-elected, I commit to fighting for increased teacher pay and policies that strengthen public education.
QUESTION FOR THE CHALLENGER
NUVO: Our reader, Leslie Lipman, Carmel, asks: Are you willing to listen to (and vote supporting) the wishes of your constituents—The People—as opposed to just following whatever Donald Trump wants on any given day?
Finch: Yes and this issue is a core reason for my decision to run. I've represented clients for 15 years in my practice of law. In that role, my job is to listen to the client, to research, to guide, and to allow the client to make an informed decision. I bring those skills into my service of The People. I am concerned with the lack of civility in our political conversations and that selfish motivations guide too many decisions made by public servants. My goal is to serve the constituents of HD 87 to the best of my ability with honesty, integrity, and civility. I am committed to serve and I have the courage to take a position consistent with the district's needs and wants, even if it means my position is not consistent with the direction of our President.
QUESTIONS FOR BOTH CANDIDATES
NUVO: Our reader, Steven Cornett, asks: Do you agree that partisan gerrymandering is antithetical to democracy, and that Indiana should adopt an objective process to create optimally compact census based equal-population congressional districts in Indiana by requiring it in the state constitution?
Hamilton: Ending gerrymandering via redistricting reform is a top priority. I support redistricting reform to bring competition back to our elections. When districts are drawn without partisan bias, more legislative seats (at both the state and congressional levels) will be competitive and that is good for democracy. Competition results in politicians working harder for their constituents, and special interests hold less sway. I have spoken to thousands of Hoosiers across the state about the importance of redistricting reform. If re-elected, I will continue to use my voice and my vote to advance this important issue.
Finch: Yes, I believe we should be able to draw congressional districts without regard to political parties.
RE: RENEWABLE ENERGY
NUVO: Our reader, Mary Lou Dolan, asks: What is your position on moving toward more policies favoring renewable energy?
Hamilton: I am a strong proponent of renewable/clean energy as well as growing clean energy manufacturing in Indiana. Increasing clean energy supports new green jobs, a healthier environment and our 21st century economy. During my first legislative session (2017), I strongly opposed the roll back of net metering (favorable rates) for solar, and I also authored legislation that would have incentivized clean energy manufacturing. Unfortunately, special interests secured the roll back of net metering and my clean energy manufacturing bill was not heard. If re-elected, I will continue to be a leader on clean energy issues at the Statehouse.
Finch: I've been a fan of renewable energy since I learned about conservation in elementary school. The challenge of renewable energy is to find ways to embrace and support it that are not cost-prohibitive. It's exciting to see the progress solar and wind energy industries have made and I would support balanced policies that encourage continued advancement of renewable energy.
NUVO: Our reader, Todd Fuqua, Would you support legislation that would block public dollars from going to private schools if they engage in discriminatory employment practices based on sexual orientation or gender identity? Please comment on your rationale.
Hamilton: If re-elected, I will support legislation that precludes public dollars from going to private schools that discriminate for any reason, including sexual orientation or gender identity. I believe the state must ensure that tax dollars are used without discrimination. Private schools are free to discriminate, but that should not be the case once they choose to accept taxpayer funding.
Finch: I don't believe public funds should be used to discriminate against anyone. As it relates to vouchers, the challenge is that the public funds don't go directly to schools, the public funds are paid to the parent and the parent chooses where to spend the money. I would support legislation that requires any school that accepts public funds to waive any discriminatory practice whether it relates to employment or student enrollment or any school policy. The school would have the choice to follow its religious doctrine if it is discriminatory or accept public dollars, but it would not be able to do both.
RE: GUN CONTROL
NUVO: Our reader, Deanna Menke, 23, Indianapolis, asks: Considering the Noblesville shooting and the fact that Marion County is on track to have more homicides this year than last, what is your plan for common-sense gun control legislation at the state level?
Hamilton: I support the Second Amendment and I also support common sense measures to reduce gun violence. During the 2018 legislative session, just after the horrific Parkland shootings, I proposed an amendment to ban bump stocks. My proposal was designed to start a reasonable conversation with a topic that seemed to have gained bi-partisan support at the national level. Sadly, my amendment was blocked. If re-elected, I will continue to fight for common-sense measures including a ban on bump stocks, closing the gun show loophole on background checks and increasing mental health support in our schools and communities.
Finch: I don't believe that school shooting and homicide rates can be reduced without a multi-part solution that includes gun control, mental healthcare, and societal changes that encourage connection and inclusion. The Marion County homicide problem has a lot to do with crime and drugs and a depletion of our police force. I don't believe that additional gun control laws will limit or reduce the violent acts of a subset of the population that is already breaking several other laws. Regarding school shootings, I believe the focus should be more on teaching children about coping with conflict and teaching them ways to manage their feelings without weapons or violence. I do believe that there are certain types of weapons that do not belong in the hands of civilians but I am concerned that laws creating weapon bans or civil punishment for owning or manufacturing certain types of weapons won't be able to be adequately enforced (the 3-D printing of functioning weapons is a very scary reality). I believe violence in schools can be reduced when we focus on teaching and modeling coping skills that do not include weapons together with the control of certain types of weapons.