February 17, 2016With only a single Republican and Democrat filed to run in the primary election race for state representative for District 74, which includes all of Crawford and Perry counties and portions of Spencer, Orange and Dubois counties, the race between the incumbent, Lloyd Arnold, of Leavenworth, and Larry Kleeman, of Tell City, should last the long haul until November.
Arnold, a Republican from Leavenworth who is in his fourth year as a state representative, was first elected in 2012 after defeating Democrat Michael Schriefer. Following his election, Arnold served on the Education, Roads and Transportation, Veterans Affairs and Public Safety and Natural Resources committees, including as vice chair of the latter.
Unopposed in the 2014 Republican primary, Arnold went on to defeat Democrat Christopher J. Coyle in the general election.
Lloyd Arnold, Republican
Larry Kleeman, Democrat
At the beginning of the 2015 legislative session, Arnold continued to serve as the vice chair of the Natural Resources Committee and the Veterans Affairs and Public Safety Committee, as well as the Agriculture and Rural Development and Elections and Apportionment committees.
Since taking office in 2012, he has sponsored 25 bills.
When asked what he planned to run on in the 2016 election, Arnold said he has always run on common sense.
"It's common-sense solutions," he said. "I do things for the people. It's not about the party; it's about the people. It's not about politics."
Arnold said education and roads continue to be important issues.
"We work on those at the state level, and they're very, very important, but I like to generalize it more back to our communities, because I know our local governments are struggling," he said.
In an attempt to help, the representative said that this year he is co-sponsor on a bill that would bring almost $7 million back to the district and local county governments.
"What can we do to help out our local communities and our local governments? Those are really my priorities to get things done," Arnold said.
Reflecting on his two terms and what he hopes to get done if given a third, Arnold said it's been a learning process, but, ultimately, for him, it's all about helping the local communities. In doing so, he said he is currently working on a bill in which the state would pay property taxes to counties that hold federal and state ground.
"In our district, we have a lot of federal and state ground … So, the state of Indiana will pay those counties that have a lot of government land and assessed value for the ground they own, because, right now, they don't pay any taxes on that and it hurts a lot of our rural counties," he said.
In another effort to help out tourism and economic development in the district, Arnold said he's been able to secure more than $1 million to reopen Wyandotte Cave.
In office for two state budgets now, Arnold said he believes in "paying as you go."
"If we have the revenue, let's use it, but let's not borrow money to make the state work and make our kids and grandkids pay for what we do," he said. "Right now, Indiana is running on a good pace, and I just want to be involved in that and keep it going in that direction."
After retiring from almost 40 years as the executive director of Lincoln Hills Development Corp. at the end of 2015, Kleeman made the decision to continue his passion for public service by filing to be the Democratic candidate for election to the Indiana General Assembly for District 74.
A graduate of Indiana State University with a degree in business administration and economics, Kleeman was also a member of the Indiana Army National Guard, graduating as a second lieutenant.
He began his career as a caseworker in 1970 with the Perry County Department of Public Welfare and was subsequently promoted to director of the department one year later. After joining LHDC as a deputy director in 1976, he went on to become the executive director and chief executive officer four years later.
As the CEO of LHDC, Kleeman oversaw 140 employees who provided services in 10 counties and 30 locations to approximately 7,000 people annually with an annual operating budget of around $14 million.
While Kleeman has never run for a partisan office before, he has served on numerous local, state and national boards, including Perry County Habitat for Humanity and the Tell City-Troy Township School board. He is also the recipient of numerous awards, including a Distinguished Hoosier award from Gov. Mitch Daniels in 2007.
"I have always been involved in public service with my career, and, with my retirement from Lincoln Hills, I just want to continue to, hopefully, contribute to this area, and there are some concerns that I have had," he said, explaining his decision to seek office.
Those concerns include education, infrastructure and the privatization of state services.
"I'm concerned about some of the things going on in education with testing and, in my opinion, lack of adequate funding for the school systems," he said. "I'm also concerned somewhat about … seems like, over the last few years or several years, there's been more privatization of state services, with the prison system, with the state highway, and I just wonder if we need to take a look at that and compare the quality of those services with how they previously provided, whether we can make improvements."
Looking back on his life and career, Kleeman said he can base it all on his parents.
"My parents instilled in me four things: one was a love for family, and we are blessed with a large family — I've got five children, nine grandchildren, one grandchild on the way and I actually have a great-grandchild; a hard work ethic; a thirst for education; and a passion for public service," he said. "So, that's kind of the foundation of who I am."
Kleeman said he's also acquired inspiration from Chinese philosopher Confucius in regard to how to handle the big issues facing the district.
"I'm paraphrasing now, but he said three things. If you want to plan for a year, plant rice. Well, we don't have much rice in this area, but we can plant corn and soybeans, and we have a beautiful area in Southern Indiana," he said. "Are there things we can do better for the farmers? We need to take a look at that. Infrastructure relates to that."
Kleeman noted Confucius also said, if you want to plan for 10 years, plant a tree.
"If you look at specifically Crawford County and Perry County, we have a large presence of the Hoosier National Forest and recreational areas and lakes, and it contributes all to the environment," he said. "A lot of people don't realize this, but those trees, because of the forest, keeps the air cleaner, and it allows more industry to be constructed in our area."
Finally, Kleeman said, according to Confucius, if you want to plan for 100 years, educate your children.
"I guess that's kind of the crux of everything, and that's what we really need to emphasize, is educating our children."
While Kleeman has no personal issues with Arnold, he believes competition is good and, ultimately, just wants to give people a choice in the election.
"I like Lloyd Arnold as an individual; he's a very personable individual," he said. "I just don't happen to agree with some of his philosophies."
Arnold, as well, vouches that Kleeman is a nice a man, but he is worried about what could happen in terms of getting things done for the district if someone from the minority party, as the Republicans currently hold 71 of the 100 seats, is selected.
"I know Larry Kleeman is a nice man. I don't know him well, but he is a nice man," Arnold said. "I just feel like, with the track record I have and trying to get things done for people, I would hate to slow that down, because I know how difficult it is to get things accomplished being in the majority, and I fear for our district, if someone in the minority were to be in there, if they would be able to get anything accomplished, just because this is the way it's working right now."
Kleeman, on the other hand, said he's well aware of the circumstances.
"I'm not naive enough to believe that, if I'm elected as a single Democrat from Southern Indiana up there, to believe that I'm going to change the system, but I do believe that I can ask questions," he said. "I've got some direct knowledge from my career and being involved in the school corporation, and I can ask questions and advocate for our kids and our families in Southern Indiana. Sometimes I think we get neglected down here, and I'm not afraid."