Committee to Elect Jeff Sparks
IN-HD62 in IN https://www.facebook.com/pages/Jeff-Sparks-for-State-Representative/413375035370532
335 S College Ave
Public Email: [email protected]
Primary Election Date: 2014-05-06 General Election Date: 2014-11-04
Who am I?
I am a proud public school educator with 35 years of service, the last 14 of which I have served as the principal of my local middle school. I was born in southern Indiana before moving north to go to school at Purdue University. I majored in vocational agriculture, which I then taught back home in southern Indiana once again. As principal, I oversee a school with nearly 350 kids and 24 staff members shared between two entities. I was encouraged to run by my colleagues because we saw what Republicans in Indiana were doing to attack and discriminate against Hoosiers across our state.
I ran in the 2012 cycle and came exceedingly close to victory. This time I am running again with renewed vigor, focus and experience and I am ready to topple the Republican supermajority in the Indiana House. As a civic leader in my community I have seen how distraught local Hoosiers are with the lack of progress towards common sense solutions. I have listened as the chair of our local Toys for Tots campaign, as an Elks and Masonic Lodge member and as a 4-H member for 35 years. Never before have our neighborhoods and communities felt so ignored. Instead of focusing on fair wages and benefits for our working class constituents, Republican special interests have attacked and discriminated against teachers, unions, and those who have different moral beliefs. My wife of 28 years, Sharon, and I could not take it any longer.
Why am I running?
The current incumbent of House District 62 has sold himself out to big corporations and special interests in Indiana. I have spent almost all of my professional life in southern Indiana and I want to run to represent them. Corporations led the incumbent to support a bill that reduced taxpayer protections against energy consumers. Corporations led the incumbent to support union-busting and unfair labor practices against Hoosiers who only want to earn an honest day's wages. I do not support it and I decided it was time to do something about it instead of merely complaining.
I took time to make my decision. Ultimately, the urging of my friends and family pushed me over the edge in 2012 and brought me back to fight again this cycle. As a past President of the Indiana State Teacher's Association, I witnessed a concerted effort to villainize public education and divert resources away to privately-funded schools. Such an effort not only defrauds young children of their ability to learn but fundamentally defrauds the citizens of my district. Indiana needs to support working families and look out for their best interests and yet the Republican incumbent has voted time and again against the working family and in support of corporations and their bottom line. It was time for someone to do something about it and, with much advice to do so, I decided that I was the person to take a stand.
Last cycle the incumbent was terrified, refusing to debate me even once. This cycle, I know we can win through harder work and a winning message that isn't reliant on big corporations dumping last second television ads to push me across the victory line.
As with any legislator I am eager and willing to hear from my constituents. Unlike the current incumbent, I will know my voting history and be able to explain why I voted how I did and how that vote affects me, my family and my district. It is a categorically different approach from how our district is currently represented.
I have three significant public policy goals. First is to support public education and restore its funding. My district has no private schools and does not benefit from the continued removal of funding from the public education system. Even if it did, I would stand opposed. Further, Republicans (pushed by, once again, large corporations who control private schools) have created impossible standards for teachers in an effort to give more schools failing grades and turn over even more schools to private control. Without the money to properly fund our schools we can never expect them to succeed to the degree we need to ensure a future for our children. That is my first goal.
My second goal is to ensure an honest wage and benefits for all Hoosiers across the state, regardless of political affiliation or job title. The current Republican majority is focused on the top 1%, as evidenced by a median income that has fallen $2700 while the tax burden has been steadily pushed towards the same sector of the population. Across the district I routinely hear how it is difficult for a voter to pay for gas, child care or their student loans and yet continually, at the Statehouse there is yet another vote to reduce the burden the rich have to pay. It is unfair and our incumbent has not looked out for the working family a single day since he took office.
Finally, I want to remove discrimination from our statewide dialogue. Indiana successfully beat back an amendment to ban gay marriage and I happily stand on the side of freedom against all discrimination no matter it's form. Such a common sense position needs no further explanation: it is simply the right thing to do, period.
My DFA Values
My entire campaign is about my community. For too long, it has been ignored in our Statehouse. Jobs have left, benefits have been cut and constituents have left as they felt attacked by a Republican majority intent upon denying them basic human freedoms.
Indiana is missing a vital component of any modern society: justness, fairness, equality. This takes its form in economic debates and social debates alike. We created a system where teachers are set up to fail and when they do, we punish them, take their jobs and spin off the profits to private corporations. It is wrong and it is why I took a stand to run for office. I did not believe that the children in my district had as much chance to succeed as I did when I was growing up. They lacked the good schools and libraries necessary for development. A common and repetitive theme on any policy issue throughout our state is that working and middle class Hoosiers are ignored and treated as merely a pawn to the bottom line of someone's else's game. That's not fair and that is not how I was raised. I was taught to help those in my community, not exploit them. Our current representation and leadership across the state choose to ignore fairness and instead focus on personal enrichment for themselves and their supporters. It isn't right.
My Campaign is People Powered!
Running for office in 2012 was my first foray into competitive politics. I learned a lot and came significant closer than anyone expected. I lost but came away from the process with more friends and supporters than I entered it. I have kept in contact with those friends, planning almost every week how we were going to win the second time around. This time I have a paid staff, support from our state party and support from grassroots groups -- including a local Democracy for America affiliate -- and we are prepared to build an army of volunteers. We are going to use our volunteers to talk to voters on the phones and at the doors about our message and how it's right for the state going forward.
I was first encouraged to apply by the aforementioned DFA affiliate. I spoke to their members and their leadership and they told me how DFA supports campaigns who embody their goals and want to build larger grassroots efforts. I want to build a lasting campaign infrastructure that furthers the efforts of progressive campaigns in my area for years to come. We do not have the money necessary to blanket the district with television ads. We do have the enthusiasm and drive, though, of a dedicated volunteer force. We brought fifty people to parades in 2012 and then got them to knock doors. We are going to met and exceed those same numbers this cycle and build on the effort we put forth to win. Whether I am talking to a local DFA group or meeting with progressive women's groups in other parts of my district, my over-arching goal is to build a movement and a campaign that pushes me to victory and expands beyond 2014. One victory in one race will not change the nature of our state: our campaign has the potential to be a guide to other races that if you run on a winning message, engage progressive activists and work hard, any race is winnable.