Monroe County Commissioner Mark Stoops has announced his candidacy for the District 40 Indiana State Senate seat being vacated by Democrat Vi Simpson to run for lieutenant governor. What follows is his announcement speech, which he delivered at a news conference on May 31, 2012.

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Thank you all for coming out this afternoon. My name is Mark Stoops, and I am officially throwing my hat in the ring for the Democratic candidacy for the State Senate District 40 seat of the Indiana General Assembly.

As you know, Vi Simpson has been chosen to be our next lieutenant governor alongside our next governor John Gregg. In order to accept the party endorsement at the Democratic Convention next month, unfortunately, Vi will have to relinquish her re-election bid for State Senate.

Vi Simpson will be an incredible lieutenant governor, and I believe she will prove to be the best governor we have ever had in another eight years. But next year she will leave a big hole in the Senate and, of course, for local representation in the Statehouse. We have all come to depend on Vi to carry the flag, to stand up for what is right, to use her skill and in-depth knowledge of state government to get things done for Bloomington, Monroe County and the State of Indiana.

But with Vi as lieutenant governor, with increased power and leverage on important issues, our loss will be Indiana’s gain.

I go into this race for the State Senate knowing full well that if I am successful in the caucus election, and successful in the fall, a difficult job awaits me. The Democrats are a small minority in the Senate. Success will not come from storming the tower. It will come with time, patience and perseverance. It will come from watching and listening and learning, and taking advantage of opportunities, both big and small, to advance not just my goals but our goals.

I believe I have shown that I have that persistence in my 12 years of service to Bloomington and Monroe County, both on the county council and as county commissioner. I have been able to accomplish many important, progressive initiatives because of the knowledge and experience I have gained – by trying to understand how the pieces fit together and by listening to people smarter than myself for good advice.

I have also shown that I can be trusted to say what it is I intend to do and then to work hard and do my best to get the job done. I do not make different, conflicting promises to different groups just to get elected. I have shown that I have the guts to stand up for what is right, and also to take every opportunity to educate the opposition and to use common sense arguments to make my point and to sway key, critical votes.

As Vi Simpson has shown, personal philosophy is important, as is personal integrity in an Indiana State Senator. We must have someone who respects, represents and protects the incredible diversity in our community. We must not accept intolerance. We must not accept racism and discrimination. And we must not constitutionalize bigotry.

A woman’s body does not become the property of the government, or her neighbor’s religion, the moment she conceives, and the government certainly has no place in telling someone whom they can marry. The whole concept is downright un-American.

The corporate-sponsored American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, must not set Indiana’s legislative agenda. Workers have the right to collective bargaining to fight for fair wages and safety standards without fear of termination. That is a right, not a right to work for less. And we must not allow the State Legislature to follow through on scheme after scheme to keep food stamps out of the hands of hungry families or to cheat people out of unemployment and disability benefits.

Let Indiana be known for keeping our homeless veterans in group homes rather than temporary shelters and putting our mentally ill in proven treatment programs rather than our jails.

We can build on Vi's successes in providing health care to children and the uninsured. Instead of fighting the Affordable Care Act, Indiana must move forward with plans for Insurance Exchanges, or, even better, non-profit health care co-ops. We’ve saved over a million dollars in one year for Monroe County government by providing a free clinic for employees and focusing on preventative care and wellness – just think how much we could save taxpayers in the state of Indiana?

Long term, with some small changes in federal law, I believe that we can achieve a single payer health care system in Indiana. A single payer system is the best system for healthy outcomes and by far the least expensive to administer.

The quality of Indiana’s air and water rank us as one of most polluted states in the country. We are so polluted other states are suing us for polluting them. We are also the largest contributor of sediment to the Gulf of Mexico. That is valuable Indiana farmland we are shipping off to Mexico with our jobs.

Mitch Daniels’ answer to global warming is to cut down our state forests. We need to look at these important environmental issues in a new light, to perform real cost benefit analysis of our actions and retrain workers for the renewable energy industry.

Instead of dumping our limited supply of money into substandard interstates, we must invest in railroads and our rail ports of entry, with a proven return on investment many times that of asphalt.

We will not strengthen our economy and provide jobs for Indiana’s unemployed and underemployed by shortchanging workers and stripping our schools of funding. A strong economy depends on excellent schools and a skilled and educated workforce. Our teachers are not the enemy. They are our first line of defense against a failing economy.

I want to thank all of you for your support over the years as a county council member and county commissioner. The experience I have gained and my active involvement with a wide range of local and state issues will prove invaluable if you choose to elect me as your next State Senator for Bloomington and Monroe County.

The upcoming Democratic Caucus decision on who to place on the ballot for State Senate District 40 in Vi Simpson’s place will not be made lightly.

I have successfully run many countywide campaigns, and if I am chosen I am confident that I will win this election against Republican Reid Dallas. And not only will I win, I will do it by a margin so wide that there will be no doubt what the voters of Bloomington and Monroe County stand for.

Let’s take it to the Senate!