NUVO: Introduce yourself in 200 words or less.
John Barnes was born and raised on the eastside. John is a seventh generation Hoosier directly descended from two veterans of the American Revolution. He is the son of Edwin P. Barnes, a World War II Coastguardsman who served on convoy duty in the North Atlantic. Growing up in Irvington, John attended IPS School #77 and graduated from Howe High School in 1975. He received a BA degree in Liberal Arts from Butler University in 1979 and a Masters in 1991.
For the last 28 years, John has taught Social Studies classes in Warren Township Schools. He was the 1999 - 2000 recipient of the Phil Douglas Human Relations Distinguished Service Award. John helped create the "Respecting Diversity" Staff Training Program in the MSD Warren Township.
Elected to the General Assembly in 2008, John represented the people of House District 89 for two years. While serving, he championed local government reform, public safety services improvement and veteran's benefits. In that session, he was the only House member that voted to advance the Kernan-Shepard reform agenda to the floor of the House Chamber.
John and his wife, Leslie, were married in 1992 and they live in southern Warren Township. They have two school-aged children: Eddie and Sheridan.
NUVO: Describe your district, name some features that make it special or unique.
Senate District 32 is comprised of parts of 4 different townships. It contains Warren Township, south of Washington Street and all of Franklin Township. It includes Perry Township from Emerson west to McFarland. It also contains a small corner of Center Township on the near eastside. Communities included in the district are as diverse as Irvington, Beech Grove, Wanamaker and Acton.
NUVO:List three serious issues facing your district and note how they would translate to your legislative priorities.
1) Economic Development - Incentives need to be provided to reinvigorate manufacturing and bring jobs back to the district. The Pure Power Technologies operation is an example of how labor and management can work together to keep a plant open. They continue to operate the old Navistar foundry in an effort to create a motorsports corridor on the eastside.
2) Education Funding - Funding for education needs to be a priority. While I voted for the property tax caps while in the legislature, I believe it was criminal to then turn around and slash education funding by $300 million. The school funding formula isn't fair to growing school districts like Franklin Township and needs to be revised.
3) Improved Public Transit. We are a first-class city with third class transit choices. Improved public transportation, like light-rail, could not only be successfully implemented on the eastside but could also be supported and serviced by the Amtrak facility in Beech Grove. That's a "win-win" !
NUVO: If you could provide one element of constructive criticism about the 2012 General Assembly, what would it be?
Members of the legislature can't claim to be "fiscal conservatives" and then not show concern when the state loses track of more than half a billion dollars of revenue. We need a transparent, independent accounting system so that we actually know how much money we have to work with. If you "find" money that was "lost", restore the funding to the original programs that you cut. Don't invent new ways to spend that money.
NUVO: How you do think an extended era of solid Republican control over the General Assembly will influence legislators' work at the Statehouse?
There will be even more of a focus on social issues and less interest in tackling the tough economic issues that we face. Governor Daniels called for a truce on social issues - let's prioritize the effort to create jobs and revive the economy. Could you comment on how you envision bi-partisanship and checks and balances functioning in this environment? It won't. There won't be much of any bi-partisanship in such a climate. Instead, we will continue to see the "political antics" that result with one-party rule.
NUVO: If you could ask one question of your opponent, what would it be?
Why do you spend so much time on social issues and so little time on the vital economic issues of jobs and economic development that would really help this district?
NUVO: What question do you wish we'd asked and how would you answer it?
Why would you be a better Senator than the current incumbent? When people vote for me, they will be voting for someone who will work for them. They will be voting for a candidate, not a party. I am a moderate Democrat and a fiscal conservative. I believe in reaching across the aisle to get things done by working with members of the other party. Indiana is supposed to have a "part-time, citizen legislature". I don't think the founders envisioned 30-year incumbents who vote to give themselves expensive perks like health care and pensions. Let's get back to prioritizing service to our constituents.