ANDERSON — The two major party candidates for the 5th Congressional District seat reiterated their campaign themes during a forum this week.

Republican Victoria Spartz and Democrat Christina Hale took part in a virtual forum hosted by the Hamilton County League of Women Voters.

The forum didn’t include the Libertarian Party candidate Ken Tucker in the contest to replace Republican Susan Brooks, who is not seeking re-election.

During her opening comments, Hale said she believes the country needs problem solvers in Congress and people willing to reach across the aisle.

Hale said that during her two years in the Indiana House she had 60 bills passed by working with Republicans in the chamber.

That brought an immediate response from Spartz, who noted that Hale authored one bill in the Indiana General Assembly.

“Christina Hale is a nice person,” Spartz said. “But she is the typical career politician who makes lots of promises.”

The two candidates responded to 13 questions prepared by the League of Women Voters ranging from the coronavirus pandemic, immigration, health care, police reform and taxes.

Commenting on health care reform, Hale said she supports a public option and that Spartz wants to overturn the Affordable Care Act.

“We have to keep the Affordable Care Act and improve it,” Hale said. “If you have private insurance and it’s working, you can keep it.”

She said more than 300,000 people in the district have pre-existing medical conditions that have to be protected.

Hale said because of the pandemic many people are losing jobs that may not return and that the public option for health insurance is necessary.

Spartz said the Affordable Care Act is bankrupting the county and the ability has to be at the state level to provide health insurance coverage.

“We have to protect Medicare for those currently on the program,” she said. “Indiana residents are all protected if they have a pre-existing condition, which was passed by the legislature.”

When it came to police reform and the Black Lives Matter movement, Spartz said there has to be more police training. She said the criminal justice system is an injustice to the poor and minority communities.

“I believe everyone deserves a second chance,” she said. “Everyone should have the same opportunities.

“There are a lot of talking points, but not doing it,” Spartz said of elected officials.

Hale said it’s important to hear that Black lives matter and there can be simple solutions to make sure police departments protect and serve all citizens.

She said what’s needed is body cameras for all officers, ban on no-knock warrants for drug-related offenses and a ban on the use of chokeholds.

“Those measures will bring great relief to all Americans,” she said.

When asked about raising taxes, Hale said there has to be more transparency in the nation’s tax laws.

She didn’t like the fact that the last tax cut bill authorized the raising of the national debt.

Hale said most of the tax cuts went to big corporations and those for individuals are set to expire.

“It created $2 trillion in debt that we haven’t paid,” she said. “There is inequity in the tax code.”

Hale said there is an unfair tax burden being placed on the middle class and noted that President Donald Trump only paid $750 in federal income tax in the past.

“No billionaire should be let off the hook,” she said.

Spartz said there are a lot of loopholes in the tax code that have to be dealt with before raising taxes on small businesses.

“We have to look at the expenditure side of the federal budget,” she said. “We also need a more efficient accounting system.”

Follow Ken de la Bastide on Twitter @KendelaBastide, or call 765-640-4863.

Senior Reporter covering Anderson and Madison County government, politics and auto racing for The Herald Bulletin. Has been working as a journalist in central Indiana since 1977.

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