3 seek Democratic nomination to challenge Messer in 6th District
Monday, April 28, 2014 11:00 AM
The three Democratic candidates in the 6th Congressional District primary include a retired educator, an attorney and a spa owner.
From top to bottom, Heitzman, Siekman and Westerfield
Susan Hall Heitzman, Lane Siekman and Corinne Nicole Westerfield are the three candidates vying for a position on the November ballot.
Luke Messer, the Republican incumbent, is unopposed in his primary. He will face the winner of the Democratic primary in the November general election.
Messer, seeking his second term, won the election for the 6th District in 2012. The seat was formerly held by Mike Pence who went on to become Indiana's governor.
Siekman, an attorney from Rising Sun, said he decided to get into the race after the government shutdown in 2013. Republicans, he said, decided to let the government stop to prove a point.
"I saw our congressman gleefully say he was willing to do that to force the president's hand," Siekman said, adding the move "deeply upset" him.
While still in law school, Siekman decided to run for the state Senate in District 43 in 1990. He lost the race, but said the experience had a positive impact on him. He has remained active in the Ohio County Democratic Party and volunteered with other campaigns.
The three biggest issues Siekman sees are increasing the minimum wage, creating a balanced budget and increasing the money spent on public education rather than giving it to charter schools.
"I think public education is at risk in this society," Siekman said of the charter and voucher programs.
He hopes to be able to look at every dollar spent by the government to determine if it's an investment in the future. That will help the country to reduce the national debt. He acknowledged that this wouldn't solve the issue overnight, but that the country could no longer afford "rampant spending with fixed revenues."
Siekman believes the best way to create jobs for the 6th District is to rebuild the state's infrastructure, including roads and bridges. He also thinks it's important to spur entrepreneurs and tech jobs.
Philosophically, Siekman sees himself as being the same as the other candidates. But the major difference is being able to compete in the November election.
"I'm willing to take the fight to Luke Messer. I don't think the others are in the position to do that," he said.
Westerfield, who owns the Blissful Moments Day Spa in Connersville, is running for the 6th District for the first time. She formed an exploratory committee to consider running as an independent in the 2012 race. Ultimately, she decided to save her money and resources to gear up for a proper campaign this year.
Westerfield wants Congress to model actual Americans, and not just wealthy people who pretend to understand the plight of the poor.
"I really, truly believe there are so many voices out there that go unheard. And I want to be their voice," she said.
Creating jobs is a priority, and Westerfield agreed that the best way to accomplish that is by improving infrastructure. Building new roads and new bridges will pave the way for other improvements.
"That's going to help so many things take care of themselves," she said.
Her priorities, she said, are creating equal rights for all Americans, immigration reform and poverty.
She believes it's time to pass the torch onto a new, younger generation of Americans in politics.
"I would definitely bring a fresh face to Washington," Westerfield said.
Westerfield is a supporter of the Second Amendment. Her other priorities if elected include finding ways to promote the use of green or solar energy and creating reforms to the tax code.
Heitzman did not respond to several requests for an interview. Her information was compiled using archive stories from her 2012 campaign and information from her website.
Heitzman, a retired educator, finished second in the 2012 Democratic primary for the 6th District, losing to Brad Bookout.
At that time, Heitzman told The Courier she believed the most important issues facing the state were education, infrastructure, immigration, research and development and regulation.
When asked about foreign policy in 2012, she said:
"America needs to create a Department of Adventure for the warrior class to protect the rest of us - and seek adventure," she said. "This restructuring of defense will send the world a new message. With changes in the space industry, with the oceans unexplored, with disasters hitting the planet, we need the cadre of trained youth willing to be the explorers. This will leave the Department of War to focus on what it does best: Create weaponry that will destroy life."
Heitzman said in 2012 she hoped to be able to take a look at the budget and the way things are allocated to make sure resources are being spent in the best way possible.
Heitzman described herself in 2012 as "a woman, a survivor, a lover, a mother, a diplomat, someone with no reputation to lose and no money to lose and I have no time for fear."Susan Hall Heitzman
Address: 345 N. County Road 25-E, North Vernon, Jennings County
Contacts: firstname.lastname@example.org; text at (812) 767-4658
Education: Hanover College, bachelor of arts, 1965; Indiana University Bloomington, 1993. Indiana secondary certification in U.S. history, world civilizations, psychology sociology, and math
Current, past employment: Retired educator (elementary, secondary, adult); juvenile probation officer; author of Your Story, Ahn's Story and Our Stories, A Journal for Pre-teen Girls; former owner with husband of Tripp Inn B&B; owner with husband of small veneer-quality hardwood tree farm; mother; parental caregiver. Also part-time: postal service, church secretary, day care employee, substitute teacher.
Other relevant experience: Ran for school board decades ago. Volunteered in Baron Hill's Seymour campaign office; volunteer at Jennings County Democratic headquarters
Family members: Husband, Stephen Heitzman; two children, Keith Heitzman and Jill Pressler; four grandchildren
Memberships: United Methodist Church, InterFaith Forum in Columbus, Reconciling Ministries Network
Address: 3595 Salem Ridge Rd., Aurora, Ohio County
Contacts: email@example.com; (812) 438-4072.
Education: B.S. in finance and economics from Ball State University; J.D. from Indiana University
Current, past employment: Attorney at Siekman Law Office, 22 years; formerly worked for MainSource Bank in Vevay
Other relevant experience: Executive director of the Ohio County Economic Development Corp., Rising Sun city attorney, president of the Rising Sun-Ohio County Chamber of Commerce
Family members: Wife, Robin; and three children, Allison, Brenden and Caroline.
Memberships: First United Church of Christ, Rising Sun Masonic Lodge, Dearborn and Ohio County Bar Association, Rising Sun Rotary Club, Southeast Indiana Growth Alliance, Rising Sun-Ohio County Chamber of Commerce
Corinne Nicole Westerfield
Address: 2695 E. County Road 560-S, Connersville, Fayette County
Contacts: (765) 541-3124
Education: Graduated from Connersville High School; obtained a license from the David Demuth Institute of Cosmetology
Current, past employment: Owner of the Blissful Moments Day Spa in Connersville
Other relevant experience: Former president of the Fayette County Cemetery Commission
Family members: Husband, Ernie; children, Starla and Logan
Memberships: Vice president of the Everton Lion's Club; American Legion Auxilary; Fayette County Veteran's Council appointee; Girl Scouts; Connersville Tourism Board member; volunteer with Honor Flight; 5th District coordinator for the Indiana Federation of Democratic Women