What they’re saying: On RFRA, 8 council and 1 mayoral candidate with viewpoints.


April 1: Mayor Jeff Gahan released a statement opposing RFRA.

April 3 correction: Make it 9 … Shirley Baird expressed opposition to the bill.

April 5: Noah McCourt clarifies his RFRA stance.

As the weeks go past in route to May’s primary election, I’m providing periodic candidate statements of substance, mostly unretouched, as lifted from social media and news reports. Familiar gems such as “yard signs win elections, not people” and “donate to my campaign first, and maybe I’ll have something of merit to say much, much later” will be omitted. That’s because it is my aim to determine whether our declared candidates have anything to say at all, and I’ll quote all candidates, from any and all parties, whether or not they’re in a contested race. Just promising change and new ideas without divulging them won’t cut the mustard, aspirants.

As of this writing, I’m the only mayoral candidate to make a statement for attribution. File me firmly “against.” I’ve asked Jeff Gahan, David White and Kevin Zurschmiede, but received no reply.

Council candidates openly opposing the RFRA include incumbent 3rd district councilman Greg Phipps (he has posted frequently on the topic at his personal Fb page, though not his campaign page) and at-large councilman John Gonder, also at his personal site:

Quoted from the Indianapolis Star/ Associated Press, via Huffington Post …”Pence disputes the law allows state-sanctioned anti-gay discrimination, as some Indiana businesses, convention organizers and others have argued. He says he didn’t anticipate “the hostility that’s been directed at our state.” That is, HE SAYS HE DIDN’T ANTICIPATE “THE HOSTILITY THAT’S BEEN DIRECTED AT OUR STATE.” My advice to the governor…next time you feel the urge to demagogue, take two aspirins, lie down and remember you’re not in Mississippi.

At-large candidate Hannegan Roseberry’s thoughts on RFRA (solidly against) already have appeared at NAC.

Democratic at-large candidates Brad Bell and Adam Keeler, and 5th district hopeful Dustin Collins have registered anti-RFRA viewpoints at Fb, which follow.

Brad Bell:

Why did Gov. Pence choose to sign this behind closed doors? Why is he costing our state millions of dollars in tax revenue? Conventions are pulling away, technology corporations have stopped sending reps to Indiana and the NCAA has even spoken out against it. How much more can our state afford to lose because of the “religious freedom” bill?

I’m so glad that New Albany is an open and welcoming community to ALL lifestyles, and in no way want to deny people their right to worship their own religion, but there must be a way to get to that goal without discriminating against others.

My other question is this. How is this not a DIRECT violation of church and state?

Adam Keeler:

Please contact Governor Mike Pence’s office at 317-232-4567 and let them know your feelings regarding Senate Bill 568, the Religious Freedom restoration act bill. Discrimination is not okay and we should not support any actions that will promote it!

Dustin Collins:

The RFRA bill signed into law by the Governor has already started the domino effect. With Salesforce, Disciples of Christ, the NCAA, and countless others already threatening to pull activities resulting in 100’s of millions in lost economic impact in Indiana and permanent damage caused to New Albany’s non-discrimination ordinance as well as others around the state we have set ourselves up for failure with regards to recruiting and retaining the next generation of talent.

As a candidate for City Council, I recognize that the only way we will compete with other cities in a world wide economic marketplace is by being inclusive and tolerant of those of all backgrounds. The next generation is ready to step up and I will fight every day to ensure their prosperity is New Albany’s prosperity, through inclusion, forward-thinking initiatives, and an eye always set on something greater.

On the Republican side, at-large candidate Al Knable opposes RFRA.

As a candidate for public office, I feel it’s my responsibility to go on record with my opinion of the recently passed and signed “RFRA”, aka SB/HB 101.

The matter has rightfully generated much discussion and I could go on at length but allow me to be succinct:

It’s bad legislation and I’m against it.

I know that many have argued that “it doesn’t really change anything”, “other states have similar laws” or that it’s “limited in scope”. To me these points are not persuasive.

Our Government owes its citizens equal protection under the law. All of its citizens.

Any act that erodes this primary function in reality or even by perception should be extinguished as soon as recognized.

I hope this can be remedied before too much damage is done to some of our friends and neighbors as well as to our State’s reputation and economy.

While the 6th district Republican candidate Noah McCourt does not directly address RFRA, his support of Ron Grooms in the context of “principles and values” and the posting date strongly suggests his support for the bill. If this is not the case, please let me know and I’ll make a correction.

I’d like to say thank you to senator Ron Grooms for taking time to meet with me today and for his willingness to stand up for the principles and values of Floyd county residents. I hope to do the same for the city of New Albany. Thank you senator