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12/27/2018 7:15:00 PM
EDITORIAL: Northwest Indiana region Democrats must show bipartisanship to be effective

Times of Northwest Indiana

Seven Region lawmakers have been designated as the top Democrats on Indiana House committees heading into the 2019 legislative session.

On face value, that sounds great for the Region. We have key folks in positions that help strengthen Northwest Indiana's relevance in the state's power center of Indianapolis.

But it won't get any of us far if those seven Democrats don't bring bipartisanship to bear in their newly elevated roles.

The Republican Party remains Indiana's legislative supermajority, and a Republican controls the governor's office.

Add to those realities that longtime incumbent Indiana House Rep. Hal Slager, a Schererville Republican, recently was unseated by Democratic newcomer Chris Chyung, and the need for bipartisan bridge-building becomes even more important.

Slager had earned the respect of the GOP majority downstate and had used it to bring beneficial commuter rail legislation and hundreds of thousands of dollars in state investment into the Region.

Bipartisan cooperation will be needed to help fill the vacancy. Chyung will sit on the Committee on Local Government and has big shoes to fill.

New Democratic Rep. Lisa Beck, of Hebron, showed us promise during our editorial board endorsements earlier this year.

Beck won our endorsement and defeated Republican incumbent Julie Olthoff, of Crown Point.

We look forward to any bipartisan effectiveness Beck can bring in her new role as a representative and member of the House Committee on Employment, Labor and Pensions.

Indiana House Rep. Carolyn Jackson, D-Hammond, also is a newcomer to the Indiana Statehouse and will sit on the Committee on Government Reduction.

Jackson will be replacing longtime incumbent Rep. Linda Lawson, D-Hammond.

And Democrat Ragen Hatcher, of Gary, replaces longtime Rep. Charlie Brown, D-Gary, who chose not to run again for the Legislature, instead making a successful bid for Lake County Council.

Brown had strong respect downstate, and Hatcher surely knows she must do much to obtain similar respect.

Some of the Region's leading Democratic legislators have been around a while.

Rep. Chuck Moseley, D-Portage, Rep. Mara Candelaria Reardon, D-Munster, and Rep. Vernon Smith, D-Gary, are veteran lawmakers who must lead the Region legislative newcomers by bipartisan example if any of their polices are to see the light of day. They also hold key committee appointments.

In the end, none of their ideas, or what they try to achieve for Northwest Indiana, will matter without bipartisan buy-in from a Republican supermajority.

A special onus is on all Democrats elected to the Indiana Legislature to make this so. They owe it to their constituents, who in turn should expect the legislators to be effective regardless of party label.

Copyright #YYYY#,, Munster, IN

Editor, John C. DePrez Jr.; Executive Editor, Carol Rogers; Publishers: IBRC and IAR

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