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The Journal Gazette

  • Zoucha

Wednesday, October 31, 2018 1:00 am

A change in District 15

No opposition

In Senate District 14, Republican Dennis Kruse of Auburn is unopposed. The District 16 seat currently held by Sen. David Long, R-Fort Wayne, is up for election in 2020. Justin Busch, elected at a party caucus, will succeed Long on Nov. 7.

One common standard in electoral redistricting is to preserve communities of interest – areas in which residents share cultural, ethnic, economic or political interests. That standard is missing in some Indiana legislative districts, including Senate districts in northeast Indiana. In Allen County, for example, Fort Wayne voters are split among three districts.

Democrat Kathy Zoucha, a special education teacher at Kekionga Middle School, said she decided to run for Senate this year because the three districts leave the families of her south Fort Wayne students without a voice.

“No one is really representing them except for (Rep. Phil GiaQuinta),” she said, noting she also believes the Senate needs a classroom educator.

Zoucha's focus is primarily on education, but she has proven to be a lifelong learner and would be responsive to District 15 voters. The seat is now held by Republican Liz Brown. Through her campaign manager, the first-term legislator declined to speak with our editorial board.

Brown authored successful bills in the last session addressing sunscreen use by students, eyeball tattooing, boxes for abandoned infants and the racial balance fund at Fort Wayne Community Schools.

Zoucha faces long odds: A Democrat hasn't been elected to the Indiana Senate from this area since former Fort Wayne Mayor Graham Richard and Woodrow Wilson, a Monroeville-area farmer, shared a multi-member district from 1974 to 1978. The two worked together to secure financial commitments for IPFW, where oversight of Indiana and Purdue university programs had recently been combined under a single chancellor. The two institutions separated this year, at the recommendation of a legislative study committee.