For years, I’ve said I would never run for public office. I haven’t led a politician’s life.
I grew up in Clark and Floyd Counties, the son of a working-class single mother, and have lived here almost all of my life. At age 17, I dropped out of high school. I got my GED and worked as a music teacher for about a decade while I put myself through college. I was the first in my family to graduate from a university. I had never even met a lawyer before I started law school, but I finally beat the odds and graduated with honors in 2007. I’ve maintained a civil rights practice with a small firm since then.
As a civil rights lawyer, I have been fortunate enough to represent people from all walks of life. I have gotten to hear a lot of stories. And I’ve seen ordinary, hardworking people get taken advantage of over and over again by the wealthy and the powerful. In Indiana and Kentucky, I’ve represented teachers against school systems, union laborers against big corporate employers, veterans against the federal government, police officers against corrupt departments, and inmates against unimaginably violent prison systems. I’ve taken on several governors, and I’ve taken on the President. I was honored to help committed couples achieve the equal dignity of marriage before the United States Supreme Court in the case of Obergefell v. Hodges. And I am proud to represent immigrants and refugees seeking a better life through America’s promise of liberty and justice for all.
I’ve been divorced and remarried. I’ve raised a son all the way through public schools in Southern Indiana, and I have two daughters who are just starting school. I’ve been self-employed both as a teacher and as a lawyer. I’ve been one of the “working poor,” living paycheck to paycheck and barely getting by. Through a combination of effort, dumb luck, and help from good people, I’ve worked my way up to membership in America’s vanishing middle class. I’ve experienced a lot. Through everything I’ve experienced, I’ve learned empathy. I’ve learned to not rush to judgment, and I’ve learned to listen.
I am sharing all this personal information here because you deserve transparency - and truth - when you decide who to vote for. But this election can’t be about who I am, who my opponent is, or how much money we’ve raised. This election has to be about issues. We have to discuss the problems that really matter to Hoosiers, and offer sound solutions to those problems.
Through my personal and professional experiences, I have come to believe that America’s strength is not in our government, our corporations, or our wealth, but in our people. I have also come to the conclusion that many of our politicians have been lying to us for a long time. As a result, good people everywhere are suffering. The only way for us to meaningfully alleviate that suffering is to get on the inside, run for office, and tell the truth. That’s why I’m running.
I’m a different kind of candidate. I’m not a politician; I’m a real person. I’m not a media creation who has lived a picture-perfect life, and I’m not wealthy enough to buy a seat in Congress. But the 2016 election showed that this is a different world with different needs. People don't need politics as usual; they need real change. The people of Indiana’s 9th District need a representative who not only knows the district from a lifetime of personal experience, but who knows how to listen to people and offer genuine solutions both at home and in Washington. That’s why I hope you’ll vote for me in May and November of 2018.