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Five Democratic candidates take on Indy’s District 46 Senate seat

Five Democratic candidates are going up against each other to win the District 46 Senate nomination in Indianapolis.

The candidates are: Kristin Jones, a member of the Indianapolis city-county council; Andrea Hunley, an Indianapolis school principal; Ashley Eason, a nonprofit executive; Karla Lopez-Owens, director of community outreach at the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office; and Bobby Kern, a paralegal.

The winner will face Evan Shearin, a Salesforce consultant who was the only candidate to file in the Republican primary for District 46, a new Senate district in central Indianapolis created during the 2021 congressional and legislative redistricting process.

Kristin Jones

Kristin Jones says that her life changed with a door knock and so that’s why, whether rain, shine, or blizzard, she’s out knocking on doors.

Jones started on the politics route when a candidate knocked on her door and changed her perspective on politics. “I offered to help volunteer with him, and within three weeks, he called me and I became his campaign manager.” She helped flip a Republican district with what she was a lot of sweat and grit.

“I had never set my sights for me to be elected to office. I had preferred to be behind the scenes, do the work, and help other people get elected; but there was a situation where there was gonna be a need for someone in our district to run for council, and I just kept waiting for someone to step up and the right person isn’t stepping up,” Jones said. So she stepped up to take the role.

Jones emphasizes that personal connections with folks is important. “It’s not always about politics, it’s about who will do the work and show up,” she said.

Her philosophy is, “You have to meet them where they are at.” She says you have to go to them, “you gotta meet them where they’re at, and that’s at their home.”

She thinks that it’s important to door knock all year round and not just during voting season and also that everyone has her phone number.

“I just dont stop, that’s why I’m out in the rain today. I knock in blizzards. When it’s bad out, we will shovel our way up to the door so that way we’ve actually shoveled and given them a service,” she said. “I just dont stop, I’m very tenacious.”

Andrea Hunley

Andrea Hunley grew up in foster care in Fort Wayne and was adopted by her parents. She was the first person in her household to attend a four-year college.

During her freshman year in college, her  family had a big setback when her dad was diagnosed with an autoimmune condition. It meant her parents couldn’t pitch in anymore for school, so she had to take on more jobs on campus and student loan debt.

But at that time, Hunley said she learned the importance of unions and supporting families during challenging times, especially challenging times with healthcare.

Hunley explained that a lot of people think she doesn’t have a past in politics; however, she says, “I’ve been boots on the ground, worked on other peoples campaigns, doing door knocking, doing volunteering, working on policy and advising on policy, especially for education. I am the only candidate that did Hoosier Women Forward, which is a political training ground for Democratic women.”

She talked about how education is one of the most highly regulated industries in the state. “Everything that I do every day is governed by state policy, so I have to be a state policy expert because of it,” she said. “So I think everything that I do has prepared me for this role.”

She continued: “I would be making history as the first Black senator for District 46, and I think that that’s important because the research shows that when women of color lead, we shake up stagnant systems and we are also great at building consensus and community. I think that when they talk about being uniquely qualified for such a diverse district, I really stand out.”

Ashley Eason

Ashley Eason ran for District 36 back in 2020, so this isn’t her first go-around. She was able to help increase the Democratic voter participation by 30%, she said, with just a quarter of the budget of her opponent.

Even before running, she was based in Washington, D.C., and was advocating for the federal budget for the state department. “I was assigned to the Midwest, including Indiana, and my job was to find very influential Republicans and Democrats to speak to their members of Congress about why investing in the state department was good for Indiana.

Eason said that in that work experience she got to know a lot of influential Republicans and was able to get them involved in advocacy.

A big focus of hers would be legislation, including stopping legislation that is harmful to the district. She toute her “ability to bring all of the things I learned in 2020, and in this election cycle as well, to the state Senate so that our caucus can start making better decisions about how we spend money from a campaign perspective and how we engage voters from across the state.”

Karla Lopez-Owens 

Karla Lopez-Owens was born in Mexico, and her family immigrated to the U.S. when she was very young.

She has done everything from tutoring young kids, protested alongside many on a bill that discriminated Hoosiers on their sexual orientation, spoke at the Indiana Women’s March, and done other things to help her community.

She has a passion for public service, she said on her website: “I wish to see our community prosper.” She did not respond to a request for comment from TheStatehouseFile.com.

On her site, she also talks about her priorities and embraces the word “CASA,” which stands for community, affordability, sustainability, and accessibility.

Bobby Kern

Bobby Kern is a lifelong resident of Indianapolis. According to his website, he works for an Indianapolis attorney and as an assistant at Ray’s Trash Service. He believes he can relate to the people the most because he lives paycheck by paycheck.

He has a history running for office and knows a lot about federal law, he said.

He just wants to help people, he says: “God says we are here to love people for who they are and where they are in their life.”

Kern thinks it is important for people to know that “the people can’t change the truth, but the truth can change the minds of the people, and the truth is God.”

To learn more about primary voting and the candidates, check out, https://ballotpedia.org/Indiana_State_Senate_elections,_2022.

Maddie Alexander is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.