Column: Making a difference starts with getting involved


Commentary by Kathy Richardson

As a state representative, one of the most enjoyable features of my public service is seeing people get involved and actively participating in their community. Those wanting to become more informed or more involved in state and local issues have many options available to them, and I thought I would take some time to touch on a few of them.

On the local level, the Hamilton County Leadership Academy is an excellent program for residents wanting to make a difference within the county and serve as civic leaders. Participants spend about one full day a month over the course of ten months in seminars to learn more about a variety of topics ranging from local agriculture to education to effective leadership principles.

More than 500 people have graduated from the program since its inception in 1992 and have gone on to serve on boards, hold elected office and work in other positions around the county. I had the opportunity to meet this year’s HCLA class when they made their annual Statehouse visit to meet their local legislators and learn more about how our state government operates. They are a great group of people, and I really enjoyed being able to spend some time with them.

There was also a wonderful group of people who participated in my annual Adult Page Day Program. I have been hosting this program for 22 years now, giving more people the opportunity to experience the legislative process from the House floor. It is based off the House Page Program, which gives students under the age of 18 the opportunity to spend the day here at the Statehouse to tour our beautiful capitol, meet their local representatives and see the legislative process in person. The main difference is that my program is for adults in my district who may not have had the opportunity to serve as a page or wanted to do so again.

This year, the adult pages toured the Statehouse, sat in on a House committee hearing, met the Indiana Secretary of State, chatted with me over lunch and watched the day’s session from the House floor. I highly encourage those who are interested in state government to sign up for the program next year. It is a unique opportunity to see firsthand how our government operates.

Lastly, it is always refreshing to see local residents serve the state through the House’s intern program, and we have three interns working for our caucus that are from Noblesville! Each year we bring in a number of interns during the legislative session to fill positions in communication, member services, public policy and information technology. They work closely with staff, legislators and other officials, playing a key role in the legislative process. It is a valuable experience that I know they enjoy and an opportunity I relish in working with these young and talented people.

There are many groups that advocate for a wide variety of issues, and I think it is important for people to get involved in organizations and issues that they are passionate about. Our system of government, the people’s government, affects many of those issues and being involved and knowledgeable of public polices is important. Civic engagement is a key component to the success of our democracy and being accurately represented by our elected leaders. All of these people are leaders in our county, and I appreciate their efforts in making our community better each day.