ANDERSON — The nation has learned lessons this year from the pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement, according to congressional candidate Christina Hale.

Lawmakers, she said, should work in the same direction.

Hale was in Anderson on Wednesday to meet with business leaders. She spoke to members of One Nation Indivisible Madison County at Mounds State Park.

“The issues are not Republican or Democrat, they are community issues,” Hale said. “When I served in the Indiana House I passed 60 bills with bipartisan support.”

Hale, a Democrat, is running against Republican Victoria Spartz in November for the seat that will be left open by incumbent Republican Susan Brooks, who decided not to seek re-election.

No stranger to tough runs for elective office, Hale believes she’s in a position to win the 5th Congressional District race.

In 2012, she defeated incumbent Republican Cindy Noe by 51 votes for a seat in the Indiana House.

“If elected, I’m determined to look for people on the other side of the aisle,” she said. “Not one party has all the good ideas.”

Concerning the coronavirus pandemic, Hale said it’s easy to prepare and react to a pandemic that is coming.

“People expect leaders to have a plan in place,” she said. “That is not happening. When we get through this difficult period, my concern is how long it will take to distribute a vaccine.”

Hale said it’s not a question of if there will be another pandemic, but when.

“We need to get our act together,” she said.

The business community will be critical to Indiana and the nation, Hale said, as the country emerges from the pandemic.

“It will be a tough road,” she projected. “Without immediate aid, 75% to 80% of the restaurants will close.”

Hale said that federal aid has to be more flexible and that the program to allow small businesses to continue to pay employees during the pandemic was overly complicated.

“We have to provide access to federal funding to small businesses first,” she maintained. “There has to be a more thoughtful program to avoid the unintended consequences.”

Hale said Indiana and the nation are still in the safety-net period because the coronavirus is not well understood.

“We have to protect employers and provide the resources to get people to their jobs,” she said. “Day care providers are facing challenges with their financial condition.

“It’s difficult to social distance, and many are being forced to close,” Hale said. “We need to make sure people that depend on day care can continue to work.”

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

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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.