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The Journal Gazette

Sunday, June 04, 2017 1:00 am

Banks, staff reading 'Conservative Heart'

NIKI KELLY and BRIAN FRANCISCO | The Journal Gazette

Freshman Rep. Jim Banks, R-3rd, and his staff have begun a book club that attracted the attention of the Washington news organization CQ Roll Call.

Banks and his employees recently read and discussed J.D. Vance's 2016 book about his Appalachian roots and kin, “Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis.”

Banks' grandparents and Vance's grandparents lived in the same Kentucky county, Banks told CQ Roll Call's Alex Gangitano.

“It's more of a personal read, less of a political” read, Banks told Gangitano.

Banks and staff are now reading “The Conservative Heart: How to Build a Fairer, Happier, and More Prosperous America,” a 2015 book by Arthur Brooks, president of the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank.

“I always want the book club to be relevant to what we do,” Banks told the CQ Roll Call reporter.

Holcomb aide moving on

Gov. Eric J. Holcomb's chief communication strategist is moving out of the Statehouse to help run an innovative new treatment center.

The Indiana Family and Social Services Administration has named Susana Suarez director of development for the Indiana Neuro-Diagnostic Institute and Advanced Treatment Center.

The facility is under construction on the Community East Hospital campus in Indianapolis and is the marquee project for the state's effort to provide cutting-edge mental health services to qualifying Hoosiers.

Suarez is currently Holcomb's executive director of communication strategies.

“Susana has been an instrumental member of the team throughout the early months of my administration, and I am pleased she accepted my request to lead this significant initiative,” Holcomb said. “Susana's experience will help bring the NDI to successful completion so the state has an asset to continue meeting Hoosiers' mental health needs and attacking the drug epidemic at all levels – prevention, treatment and enforcement.”

Suarez serves on the Zionsville Town Council with additional leadership roles on the Zionsville Safety Board, Board of Police Commissioners and the Indiana Commission for Higher Education. While working in Washington, D.C., early in her career, Suarez was appointed by President George W. Bush to serve in various positions, including assistant director for regional operations for the Federal Emergency Management Agency and chief compliance officer for the Peace Corps.

Prior to her role with Holcomb, Suarez was president and CEO of Media Moon Communications, which advised clients around the globe.

Adams attorney seeks Senate seat

Eric Orr announced Wednesday he will run for the Senate District 19 seat in the 2018 GOP primary.

The Adams County attorney operates a law practice in Berne and has held a seat on the Adams County Council the past nine years.

“It seems that many of our legislators who campaigned on conservative principles have, upon stepping foot inside the Statehouse, forgotten those same principles,” Orr said. “I think many voters are disappointed with the legislative priorities of the current Assembly.”

He said government programs are expanding and Hoosiers are footing the bill, and “the social issues most important to voters have been ignored.”

The seat is currently held by Sen. Travis Holdman, R-Berne. He has served since March 2008 and been re-elected several times.

Two years ago, Holdman was the point man in trying to find a compromise on civil rights protections for gay, lesbian and bisexual Hoosiers. He also supported setting minimal safety rules for unlicensed child care ministries.

Holdman has also championed a number of bills increasing abortion restrictions.

Orr said he just wants to give voters a choice in the 2018 primary.

“Every election should present voters with more than one option, but far too often, we're only given the choice between 'R' and 'D,' ” he said.

Hoosiers up for D.C. jobs 

Two Hoosiers reportedly are under consideration to replace federal officials let go by President Donald Trump.

Trump last week interviewed John Pistole, president of Anderson University, as a possible replacement for James Comey, the fired FBI director, the Associated Press reported.

The New York Times reported that Kevin Kellems is a possible successor to Michael Dubke, who resigned as White House communications director. Kellems, a resident of Madison, has worked for former Indiana senators Richard Lugar and Dan Coats, who is Trump's director of national intelligence.

Kellems resigned last summer as the Trump campaign's “director of surrogates” after a few weeks on the job.

To reach Political Notebook by email, contact Brian Francisco at bfrancisco@jg.net or Niki Kelly at nkelly@jg.net. An expanded Political Notebook can be found as a daily blog at www.journalgazette.net/politicalnotebook.