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Editorial

Barranda for District 84

An incumbent’s Statehouse experience sets a high bar for any challenger. Michael Barranda easily surpasses the mark set for Indiana House District 84. The Fort Wayne attorney has the commitment, talent and demeanor to emerge as a leader not only in the northeast Indiana delegation but in the entire General Assembly.

Barranda faces Rep. Bob Morris in the Republican primary. Morris first won the seat in a party caucus in 2010. While Morris’ business record is extensive – he owns six HealthKick Nutrition Centers and several other enterprises – his legislative accomplishments are few.

Even as a member of the majority party, his bills did not receive a hearing in the last session. As area lawmakers worked to increase IPFW’s autonomy from Purdue University, Morris was missing in action – even though the regional campus borders his district.

Barranda’s decision to challenge the incumbent did not come lightly. He considered running as an independent after a letter Morris wrote explaining why he would not sign a resolution honoring the Girl Scouts was leaked by one of his GOP colleagues. The backlash brought national notoriety to the first-term legislator and to the city.

“As a community leader, I felt it was a poor reflection on Fort Wayne,” Barranda said at the time. “I wanted to explore what I can personally do.”

Because the filing deadline for the Republican primary was past, he ultimately decided to wait for the next opportunity to seek the nomination in the district, which roughly includes the northeast side of Fort Wayne.

A Kendallville native who graduated from the University of Notre Dame and Loyola University Chicago School of Law, Barranda, 35, has an impressive community service record. He serves on the boards of the Community Foundation of Greater Fort Wayne, the Olive B. Cole Foundation and St. Joseph Hospital. He has served on committees with the Fort Wayne Chamber, Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership and the Regional Chamber of Northeast Indiana. He was among the early participants in Young Leaders of Northeast Indiana, the group that has played a key role in Fort Wayne’s progress in retaining young professionals.

Barranda’s real strength, however, is in the potential contributions he can make for northeast Indiana, beginning with what he calls a more substantive approach to legislation. While he holds party-line views on abortion and Second Amendment rights, Barranda challenges the broad expansion of school choice championed by the GOP-controlled legislature. It is contrary to the approach fiscal conservatives should take, he said.

“Schools aren’t a free market,” said the former economics major. “It’s a finite consumer base – a very basic economic principle.”

Barranda said he also wants to ensure IPFW has the ability to serve local industries in research and development. The university’s current governing structure gives it little flexibility in developing new degree programs.

“Not having that ability really hampers our community,” he said. “It’s common sense.”

For Republican voters, Barranda is the common-sense choice for the District 84 seat.

 

Barranda in the 84th

In the Indiana House District 84 Republican primary race, we recommend Fort Wayne attorney Michael Barranda, who is challenging incumbent Bob Morris, an entrepreneurial businessman who won the seat in a GOP caucus in 2010.

Barranda is a straightforward conservative, strongly emphasizing the need for limited government and fiscal restraint. He’s also right of center on social issues like the Second Amendment and abortion. He would work on educational issues in the House and thinks northeast Indiana isn’t making enough of IPFW as a research-and-development resource.

As the owner of several enterprises, Morris has a keen grasp of this area’s business needs and keeps a sharp eye on economic issues. But he could have accomplished more legislatively. And his tendency to undisciplined speech has caused hard feelings in his own party. He’s not the first conservative to be wary of the leftist leanings of the national Girl Scouts organization, but he is the only one to create a national controversy by seeming to pick on poor, little cookie-selling waifs.

Being a legislator requires understanding constituents’ desires and also having a strong personal sense of the district’s needs. Barranda is capable of crafting legislation that addresses both of those.