Pruett campaign focuses on bringing government 'back to the people'

2017-09-12 | Greensburg Daily News

Sept. 12--GREENSBURG -- A longtime Greensburg attorney is seeking the Democratic nomination to represent the state's sixth congressional district in Washington.

Jim Pruett announced his candidacy for the congressional seat currently occupied by Republican Luke Messer during an event in Brookville last month, and in the weeks since he's worked to establish a platform centered on helping the middle and working classes, expanding Medicare coverage, breaking down partisan barriers, and bringing government "back to the people."

Pruett, who operates his own law firm on E. Washington St., has sat across the table from struggling families at collections hearings, sympathizing with the plight of those unable to pay their bills simply because they can barely make ends meet.

The longtime Greensburg resident said the problem extends far beyond the bankruptcy courtroom, however, and is reflected in pay checks that, quite literally, don't add up for many people.

"I'm sick and tired of seeing people struggling to make ends meet," Pruett said. "It's so difficult today. The vast majority of Americans want to pay their bills, they just can't."

Pruett, echoing Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address -- which itself harkened back to the preamble of the United States Constitution -- said America has become a country that is "of the rich, by the rich and for the rich" rather than "of the people, by the people and for the people."

And that's something he wants to change.

The son of a business owner, Pruett considered politics earlier in his life, but instead opted to focus on his family and career. The 1975 graduate of Greensburg Community High School and his wife Mimi were married in 1978 --nine years after Pruett's father moved the family to Greensburg and opened up a refrigeration business.

The Pruetts have two children -- James "J" Pruett and Cynthia Armstrong -- and a 7-year-old grandson.

Mimi Pruett is serving as a campaign manager of sorts during the early days of this political run, which is the first bid for public office Pruett has formally sought.

An aviation board commissioner, Pruett has also been involved with the Tree County Players, the Decatur County Bar Association, and the American Red Cross.

The decision to run for office comes at the age of 60, and after a lifetime practicing law, Pruett said his fledgling campaign isn't the first step toward a new career as a politician. Rather, he's in the race to work with members of both parties to create legislation that will help all Americans.

Pruett grew to appreciate small business via his father's vocation, and he believes those shops -- as well as ventures on larger scales -- are vitally important to the economy.

"Without business there are no workers, and without workers there is no business," Pruett said.

But he also feels that many Americans don't make enough money to live on each month, and that can be detrimental economically.

One of the focuses of Pruett's campaign is his intent to work with House and Senate members to create a "living wage" that will help all Americans prosper. Pruett believes setting a wage scale that could rise in correlation with inflation would be a step toward helping the middle class, which he believes is integral in helping the economy.

The candidate said families who have little left at the end of each month are unable to afford products, goods and services that drive the economy, and as a result it stagnates. Pruett believes it's a cause and effect relationship that could be improved with wage increases.

"People aren't able to buy the things they used to be able to buy," Pruett said. "My goal is to see the working class and the middle class have a share. The wealthy need to take another look at what's happening."

College students and graduates struggling with burdensome loans should also be helped, Pruett said.

"I support helping to alleviate the burden of student loans and helping young people have a chance to go to college or attend a trade school without coming out of school so far in debt that all they can do is pay loans and not have a chance to participate in the economy," Pruett said.

Speaking with the Daily News, he summed it up this way: "the government shouldn't make money off of our young people."

With middle class families struggling and students leaving college with loans they might never be able to pay back, Pruett believes the American dream, for many, is getting further and further out of reach.

"We're losing what America used to be," Pruett said. "That's why I'm running. I want to work to change that."

One of those changes Pruett supports is expanding Medicare coverage to all Americans.

Medicare is a federal health insurance program that predominantly covers people over the age of 65.

At the heart of Pruett's campaign is a desire to hear the wants and needs of the people of Indiana's sixth Congressional district. The district includes major cities such as Muncie and Columbus and covers a large portion of eastern and southeastern Indiana.

In spite of the district's size, Pruett said town hall meetings and other person-to-person interactions would be a regular part of his agenda if he wins the Democratic primary in May 2018 and goes on to defeat a presumptive Republican candidate that fall. He would also keep a Decatur County home.

"My plan is to be in this district as much as possible," Pruett said.

At present, Rising Sun lawyer Lane Siekman and Muncie Matters Alliance founder Jeannine Lee-Lake are also seeking the Democratic nomination.

The GOP primary is set to include District 28 Indiana Sen. Mike Crider and Muncie business owner Jonathan Lamb.

More candidates can declare their intentions to seek the office ahead of the official filing date set for early next year.

The seat has been occupied by Messer since he took office in 2013. Messer launched a Senate campaign last month, with the goal of challenging incumbent Democrat Joe Donnelly.

No matter their party affiliation and no matter the office, Pruett believes every elected official's chief duty is to serve the public.

Pruett said he believes many politicians, particularly those in Washington, serve their parties and special interest groups instead of the people who elected them.

"We don't have people that really represent us," he said.

The career attorney said he believes partisanship should go away the moment a winner is declared. And that winner must accurately represent the people of his or her district. Pruett feels there's no better way to do that to listen closely to find out what is important to the public.

Pruett recently created a Facebook page for his candidacy, and via that he intends to share more about his platform.

"I want to represent the people of this district," Pruett wrote in a recent post. "All the people."

Contact: Brent Brown 812-663-3111 x7056; brent.brown@greensburgdailynews.com