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U.S. Representative, District 9

Primary election

April 23, 2008
Democratic incumbent Baron P. Hill faces a primary challenge from John R. Bottorff, Gretchen Clearwater and Lendell B. Terry. On the Republican side, Mike Sodrel, who held the seat in 2005-06, is unopposed. Efforts to reach Bottorff and Terry were unsuccessful. (*) Denotes incumbent.

Gretchen Clearwater (D)

Address: 1751 W. Lancaster Drive (Jon Jackson, treasurer), Bloomington, IN 47404

Spouse: Single

Children: Three grown daughters, all three of them raised in the 9th District

Occupation: Graduate advisor, Department of Biology, Indiana University

School and year graduated: 1974, Bachelor's Degree, History, Indiana University; later became certified to teach high school and junior high school.

Political affiliation: Democratic

Previous political experience: Ran for Congress in 2006

Duties of position sought: The primary purpose of members of Congress is to represent their constituents in Congress and to write and pass laws. Representatives serve as advocates for their constituents, helping them to get the services they need and making sure that the district gets their fair share of federal funding. Legislators provide the president with advice and consent on appointments and other matters of national concern. They have the power of the purse to allocate funding for federal programs such as Pell grants for education. Under the Constitution they have the sole authority to declare war and they have the power to impeach presidents who "misbehave."

Why are you seeking the office?: I am running because there are a number of issues of vital importance that I am concerned about that can only be solved on the federal level. We are engaged in an immoral war in Iraq that we should never have started. Our economy is in serious trouble due to irresponsible financial deregulation and harmful free trade agreements that have outsourced over a million jobs to other countries. We are going bankrupt due to excessive borrowing that has put out nation dangerously in debt. Energy costs are going through the roof, and we are no closer to solving our energy crisis than we were three decades ago. Meanwhile 47 million Americans are without health care. We can do better!

What qualifies you for the office?: Although I have never held political office before, I have been active in politics my entire adult life. I have courage and common sense and know the meaning of the word decency and will practice it daily in Congress when elected. I am running a grassroots campaign on issues that stand up to big business interests that have misruled our nation for too long. It's time we take the for sale sign off Capital Hill.

What do you consider top issues in the campaign?: My top issues of concern include: Ending the war in Iraq so that we can invest in jobs and rebuilding our nation's aging infrastructure. Ending the free trade agreements that have caused record job losses for workers, particularly here in the 9th District. We need health care for all of our citizens. We need funding for education, and for investing in alternative technologies that utilize safe, clean, renewable sources of energy so we can break, once and for all, our dependence on foreign oil. We are at a crossroads; for the sake of our children and for the sake of our nation, it's imperative that we begin to take the necessary steps now to turn our country around and head it in the right direction. That's why I am running for Congress. A vote for me is a vote for the future. To learn more about my candidacy visit: www.ClearwaterforCongress.com.

What are the top federal issues facing Hoosiers in the Ninth District?: The top issues facing Hoosiers in the 9th District are: Unemployment and home foreclosures, ending the war in Iraq, high price of oil, and affordable health care.

Has Congress lived up to its commitment to work a more full schedule and get more things done than the previous Congress?: (Did not answer.)

With gasoline prices inching closer to $4 per gallon, what can government do to keep prices in check?: The only way we can stem the high cost of gasoline is to wean ourselves off of our dependence on it. We need to be investing in alternative clean renewable sources of energy, like wind, water and solar. The government should provide tax incentives for replacing gas-guzzling cars with fuel-efficient vehicles such as electric cars. We should also bring back passenger rail services.

Is the U.S. economy in recession? What can be done to make sure that it does not go into recession, or, if it's already there, what can be done to get it out of recession?: We are already in a recession. Band-aid solutions won't fix the problem. We need a New Deal for new times. To create jobs we should be investing in our nation's infrastructure and in our small businesses on a magnitude not seen since the days of Franklin Roosevelt. Until this is achieved, though, if the economy worsens, we need a safety net to help people who lose their homes and their jobs. Now is not the time to be cutting social programs such as Medicare, Social Security and other assistance. My campaign is about putting people first!

Should the tax cuts enacted by President Bush and Congress be continued?: The current policy is destroying the middle class in America. We must bring about tax fairness to bridge the widening gap between rich and poor. I would end the tax cuts for the wealthy that were pushed through by the Bush Administration. Tax cuts for low- and middle-income Americans should remain in tact.

Should the United States immediately withdraw troops from Iraq? If so what will be the consequences? If not, why not?: Yes, we need to begin the withdrawal immediately from Iraq. We should set a timeline for complete withdrawal. Our troops have performed their job admirably. It's time to declare victory and leave. We cannot, however, abandon the Iraqi people. We don't know for sure what the consequences of leaving will be, but we do know what the consequences of staying are. Massive debt. More deaths. In the five years since President Bush launched the invasion of Iraq, an estimated 600,000 to 1 million Iraqis have lost their lives. The number of U.S. military deaths is now over 4,000, with well over 65,000 wounded, not counting the over 1,000 civilian contractors killed while providing military support. It's time to bring our troops home and when they come home, make sure they have the health care they need and a GI bill to put them through school.

Has the United States done a good job in the War on Terror? What should it do differently?: We need to have security; there are dangers lurking out in the world, but we need to be careful that in our quest for security we don't trade one danger for another. While I believe terrorism is and will forever be a problem, a far graver danger to our lives and liberty is the establishment of a surveillance society ruled by secrecy. I fear there are too few in Congress alarmed by this danger. I hope to change that, when I get to Washington.

Contact information for voters: www.ClearwaterforCongress.com; e-mail Gretchen@clearwaterforcongress.com; phone 1-812-360-5596

*Baron P. Hill (D)

Address: Hoosiers for Hill, P.O. Box 1071, Seymour

Spouse: Betty Schepman Hill

Children: Father of three daughters: Jennifer Hill Weiser, Cara Huddleston and Elizabeth Hill

Occupation: Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Indiana's Ninth Congressional District

School and year graduated: Seymour High School 1971; Furman University, Bachelor of Arts 1975

Political affiliation: Democrat

Previous political experience: First elected to the U.S. Congress in 1998; re-elected to Congress in 2006; served eight years in the Indiana General Assembly (1982-1990)

What qualifies you for the office?: I am a lifelong resident of Southern Indiana. It is the place where Betty and I raised our three daughters, built a life together and proudly call home. I believe I know the people of Southern Indiana very well. And, like me, the residents of Southern Indiana are practical folks who want to better America by finding solutions to problems around which most of the country can agree. I was recently ranked the third-most-centrist member of the U.S. House of Representatives. I am very proud of this and believe it accurately reflects my constituents and their values. I base decisions on legislation upon how it will directly impact the lives of folks back home, and not on the political party that introduced it.

What do you consider top issues in the campaign?: There is a general angst among Americans, and certainly the people of the Ninth District, about the economy. Property taxes are skyrocketing, health care costs are increasing, gasoline is becoming more expensive daily and the housing market is experiencing unprecedented troubles, while Americans are being offered little to no relief. The lagging economy affects all aspects of peoples' lives and Congress must do more to help middle-class Americans.

What are the top federal issues facing Hoosiers in the Ninth District?: Again, I believe the economy is the top issue facing Hoosiers, and Congress must do more not only to provide relief to people but also to stimulate the economy. Although short-term options may seem more appealing now, our real economic problems lie in the government's reckless spending. I am proud that this Congress has enacted pay-as-you go (PAYGO) spending rules and regained fiscal control. However, we must keep working. To that end, I have introduced a bill that would make PAYGO law. As a rule, PAYGO can still be waved. By making it law, Congress will have to find ways to offset any new spending.

I will also continue to champion my property tax relief legislation amongst my colleagues and the House leadership. Last year, I introduced the Property Tax Relief Act of 2007, which would allow homeowners who do not itemize to deduct their property taxes from their federal income taxes. Currently, only those who itemize are eligible for this deduction. Estimates suggest that approximately 40 percent of homeowners do not itemize. Although the issue of property taxes is largely the responsibility of the state legislature, I want to help in any way I can.

The more than $500 billion we have spent in Iraq is also a huge strain on our economy. Taxpayers of the Ninth District have paid about $800 million for the War in Iraq — money which could have gone to providing roughly 240,000 people in Southern Indiana health insurance.

Has Congress lived up to its commitment to work a more full schedule and get more things done than the previous Congress?: I am somewhat satisfied with what my colleagues in Congress and I have accomplished thus far. We have made progress, like increasing the minimum wage for the first time in a decade, cutting interest rates on student loans, raising fuel efficiency standards for our vehicles, funding the VA at the highest level since its creation and enacting pay-as-you-go spending rules. But, I will also be the first to admit there is still much work to be done. While we have changed the discussion about the future of the War in Iraq, we have been unable to enact a bill that will establish a plan for the redeployment of our troops. The work that remains is crucial to moving our country in a new direction. And, that is exactly why I am running for re-election – to continue and build upon the changes we have begun.

With gasoline prices inching close to $4 per gallon, what can the federal government do to keep prices in check?: I still have not yet figured out why the last Congress gave a tax break to the Big Oil companies, nor do I think I ever will. Regardless, Congress must repeal the tax break to oil companies that are reaping record profits while Americans are paying record-high prices at the pump and use those proceeds to develop alternative energy sources. We must overhaul an unfair tax structure that consistently aids the wealthiest Americans while cutting deep into the pocketbooks of middle-class families.

For temporary relief at the pump, I have sent a letter to the president urging him to suspend deliveries of fuel oil to the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) and place the fuel into the open marketplace to increase supply to consumers. Many analysts contend that such action would allow more oil to remain on the market, and thus drive down gas prices by as much as $.25 per gallon.

Our dependence on foreign oil is not only a threat to our economic security, but also our national and environmental security. We must focus our efforts on developing alternative energy sources – making sure to look for a multitude of sources that will sustain our nation's energy usage. In addition, I was proud to author legislation that increases fuel efficiency standards for our vehicles. But, as technology develops we must keep pushing the auto industry to go even farther.

Is the U.S. economy in recession? What can be done to make sure that it doesn't go into recession, or, if it's already there, what can be done to get it out of recession?: I have been told there is no single way to define a recession. But, I would define it based upon how folks back home feel about their economic situation. And, I know for a fact that many Hoosiers are hurting.

I recently had the opportunity to chair the Joint Economic Committee hearing on the March jobs report. I was shocked and saddened by the numbers – 80,000 jobs lost in March of this year. And, Indiana has one of the highest rates in the country of people having to exhaust their unemployment benefits because they are unable to find new work. In sum, we're losing jobs and not creating enough new ones.

Although I voiced my concerns about the real effectiveness of an economic stimulus package, I supported such legislation when it was passed by Congress. People need this money, and I sincerely hope it stimulates the economy. However, I also believe Congress needs to make a significant investment in the nation's infrastructure. By repairing roads and building bridges, we would not only be completing necessary projects, but also creating new jobs.

Should the tax cuts enacted by President Bush and Congress be continued?: Although I fully support middle-class tax cuts, I oppose the Bush tax cuts targeted toward the wealthiest one percent of Americans.

Should the United States immediately withdraw troops from Iraq? If so, what will be the consequences? If not, why not?: The deployment of Indiana's 76th Infantry Bridge Combat team – the largest deployment of Hoosier troops since WWII – is a stark reminder that the War in Iraq is now entering its sixth year. There may be controversy about this war, but there is no dispute about the magnificent job our troops have done over there. They have fulfilled every mission they have been tasked to do. That said, the mission in Iraq seems to have shifted significantly over the past few years to one which, I believe, has no clear end goal. Our troops toppled Saddam Hussein and ensured free elections were held. However, the fate of Iraq is now in the hands of its people and political leaders. It is their time to step up to the plate and take control of their own destiny. I firmly believe it is time to begin the process of safely redeploying our troops out of Iraq. Redeployment does not mean cut and run. Instead, it entails moving our troops to strategic locations throughout the Middle East to confront terrorism on its front lines, while bringing some of our troops back home to their families.

Has the United States done a good job in the War on Terror? What should it do differently?: The War in Iraq has diverted our funds, military personnel and attention away from the real War on Terror. We have lost our larger focus on combating terrorism on its front lines. I believe we must redirect our military efforts on thwarting terrorism in places like Afghanistan and Pakistan and eliminating al-Qaeda entirely.

Contact Information for voters: erica@hoosiersforhill.com

Mike Sodrel (R)

Address: P.O. Box 1505, Jeffersonville, IN

Spouse: Marquita (Keta) Dean Sodrel

Children: Noah, Keesha

Occupation: Owner, Sodrel Truck Lines and Free Enterprise System

School and year graduated: New Albany High School 1963

Political affiliation: Republican

Previous political experience: Served in the U.S. House of Representatives from January 2005 to January 2007

Duties of position sought: Federal lawmaker

Why are you seeking the office?: To me this election isn't about candidates or parties. It's about the future of our Republic. I feel that this election is arguably the most important in my lifetime. After much prayer, Keta and I decided that we couldn't sit on the sidelines for this one. The future of our children and grandchildren, and future generations of Americans is much too important for me to stand idle.

What qualifies you for the office?: I was raised in the 9th District, raised my family here, run a business here, and go to church here. I understand this district and its constituents.

What do you consider the top issues in the campaign?: Jobs, the economy, energy costs, health care.

What are the top federal issues facing Hoosiers in the Ninth District?: Jobs, the economy, energy costs, health care.

Has Congress lived up to its commitment to work a fuller schedule and get more things done than the previous Congress?: No. And with the current Congressional approval rating hovering around 20 percent, the American people are dissatisfied with what Congress is doing.

With gasoline prices inching closer to $4 per gallon, what can the federal government do to keep prices in check?: We have to lessen our dependence on foreign oil by pursuing alternative energy sources and allow for oil exploration in the United States.

Is the U.S. economy in recession? What can be done to make sure it doesn't go into recession, or if it's already there, what can be done to get it out of recession?: It takes two consecutive quarters of negative economic growth to classify the economy as in a recession. We don't have all the data to say positively we're in a recession, but short-term responses like what Congress has advanced is not the solution. People cannot make long-term business or personal decisions based on short-term economic policy. The Fair Tax would be one such proposal that would bring long-term economic growth. Go to www.mikesodrel.com to learn more about the Fair Tax.

Should the Bush tax cuts be continued?: Absolutely. People will see an immediate tax increase if the Bush tax cuts are allowed to expire. Higher taxes are the wrong policy in a weak economy. It will hurt job creation.

Should the United States immediately withdraw troops from Iraq? If not, why not?: No. We are in the process of drawing down troops and I think that should continue at the same rate that Iraqis are able to defend themselves. An immediate troop withdrawal would create a vacuum that our enemies would fill and undo all the progress we have made so far.

Has the U.S. done a good job on the War on Terror? What should it do differently?: The fact that we have not had a terrorist attack since Sept. 11, 2001, shows that we are doing a good job defending our country. Not every strategy that we have employed in Iraq has been flawless, but violence is down and we are in the process of withdrawing troops.

Contact Information for voters: www.mikesodrel.com; 1-812-282-2002

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