October 23, 2019 at 4:45 p.m.

Myers makes campaign swing for 2020

Myers makes campaign swing for 2020
Myers makes campaign swing for 2020

By JACK RONALD
Publisher emeritus

Woody Myers wants your vote.

Not in this election, the one a few weeks from now.

But in 2020, the election that’s more than 375 days away.

Dr. Myers, 65, first made his mark as Indiana State Health Commissioner during the second term of Republican Gov. Robert Orr. He stayed in that post during the first term of Democratic Gov. Evan Bayh.

Today he’s one of a handful of Democratic candidates who have already surfaced to challenge incumbent Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb.

Myers stopped in Jay County on Tuesday as he made his way around the region, talking to small city mayors about their concerns and their issues with state government.

“I’m hearing very serious concerns about the property tax cap and the circuit breaker,” Myers said during a brief interview.

During his stint leading the Indiana State Health Department, Myers took a high profile position in support of young AIDS patient Ryan White’s right to attend school at a time when a climate of fear and misinformation about the disease prevailed.

He left the Indiana post to become health commissioner for New York City. He then built a successful career with Indiana Blue Cross Blue Shield (now Anthem) and went on to serve as the chief healthcare officer for Ford Motor Company. He was later chief executive officer of Corizon, a company focused on providing healthcare to those in prison or jail.

He made an unsuccessful bid for Congress in 2008, coming in second in a crowded field in the Democratic primary in the 7th Congressional District.

“I thought I could get politics out of my system,” he laughed.

While incumbent Gov. Holcomb has run a low-key administration far less polarizing than his predecessor Mike Pence, Myers sees that as an opportunity.  According to one poll, he said, less than 40 percent of Indiana voters could identify Holcomb as governor.

“Education, that’s first on my list (of issues),” Myers said. Indiana teacher pay, he said, is lagging way behind the nation as a whole.

“Mitch Daniels (governor) destroyed the funding formula,” said Myers. “You have teachers leaving to go to Kentucky because the pay is better. … And we wasted so much money. The State Board of Education is not paying attention.”

While acknowledging that the Hoosier economy is doing pretty well, Myers said, “The jobs we’re attracting are at the lower end, not the higher end.

A graduate of Harvard Medical School, he also expressed concern about Hoosier health. “Our infant mortality rate is close to Mississippi’s,” he said.

Some of that, he added, is because Indiana still has a large percentage of smokers. Calling for higher taxes on cigarettes, Myers said, “People are addicted to nicotine. It’s the only product that used as directed will kill you.”
PORTLAND WEATHER

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