Indiana Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch kicked off her campaign for governor Dec. 12 with a tour across the state, conducting several interviews over a few days. She took questions from Current Publishing during a Dec. 14 visit to Carmel.
Where did you get your motivation for running?
After being elected with Gov. Eric Holcomb in November 2016, I got a check (the next month) from a supporter made out to ‘Crouch for Governor. I called and told him, “It’s lieutenant governor.” He said, “No, I want to be the first person to write a check for your campaign for governor.” At the time, I thought, “That’s eight years away. I can’t even think about that.” But I started to think more and more that my experience and leadership in serving in local and state government at the legislative and executive branch has brought me to this position, and the next step is to run for governor.
I have a vision for Indiana that will propel us into the future. I’ve been to all 92 counties many times over. I’ve talked to people, and I’ve listened to them. I have the experience and leadership to act on what Indiana needs to be successful. We’ve accomplished great things over the last 17 years. We’ve turned the state around to where we have low taxes, healthy surpluses and balanced budgets.
The next chapter in Indiana’s history is going to be about quality of life. Why is that important? Because that’s how we grow our population and attract talent. Quality of life is as important to business as low taxes and tax incentives. It used to be that people followed businesses. Today, businesses are following people, and people want to live in communities where they enjoy quality of life. We have a plan for the future to grow our economy, invest in education, strengthen our families and communities.
Why is education a major theme of your campaign?
We need to create a cradle-to-career education system. It starts with early childhood education. We need to be investing more in early childhood education. We need to align K-12 higher education development and workforce development better. Every child that graduates from high school needs to be prepared for that next step in life, whether it’s employment or enrollment.
One of the things that we have to do is encourage our high school seniors that want to go to college to go to Indiana colleges and universities. Why is that important? Because 70 percent of them will stay in Indiana (after graduating). It’s about getting our young people prepared for that next step in life. If college is where they want to go, let’s get them in Indiana colleges and universities and then move toward addressing that quality of life.
Quality of life can look like all different things to all different people. I think when most people think about quality of life, they think about destinations. They think about the trails. They think about those amenities that make life meaningful. But quality of life is also about helping those Hoosiers who struggle with mental illness or addiction, helping those Hoosiers who are disabled or those who have intellectual development disabilities, whether it’s autism, Down syndrome or cerebral palsy. Quality of life is about providing more meaningful opportunities for all Hoosiers, including those who are more vulnerable.
How do you plan to address workforce development?
It’s important that we have a workforce that is trained and skilled for the jobs of the future. It’s estimated that by 2025, 60 percent of all jobs will require post-secondary education. So, it’s important our students are prepared for that next step, and we encourage them to have the education for the industries of the future. Industries of the future are advanced manufacturing, aerospace, ag-bioscience, cybersecurity, defense, health care, orthopedics and life sciences. If those are the jobs of the future, we want to have our children and our future workforce prepared. So, aligning education with that becomes extremely important.
What other quality-of-life issues are important to address?
We are talking about Hoosiers being safe in their homes and their neighborhoods and businesses, making sure that law enforcement has the support and resources to be able to do that. Then we need to look at how we can better address the fentanyl problem we have here in our state. Indiana is a border state because of all the illegal drugs that are coming into our state. We need to get a handle and press back because that is killing Hoosiers.
Did Sen. Mike Braun’s announcement that he is running for governor have any effect on your timing?
This is a plan we’ve had in place for months. I learned a long time ago that I can’t be responsible for other people. I have to be responsible for myself. We’ve put together a plan and we’re executing it. I’m taking my vision to the people of Indiana, not waiting for people to come to me. That’s what I’ve been doing for the past eight years is traveling the state and connecting with Hoosiers.