INDIANAPOLIS — State Rep. Terry Goodin, the schools superintendent for Crothersville who raises beef cattle on a family farm, was selected Monday as the new House Minority Leader on the sole ballot held by the Democrat caucus.
Goodin, D-Austin, succeeds Rep. Scott Pelath, D-Michigan City, who is departing the post to spend time with his family. Goodin, who lives in rural Austin, reportedly beat out Rep. Phil GiaQuinta of Fort Wayne for the leadership position. There were two Democrats seeking the post among the 30-member caucus.
"Democrats are going to have a new face, we're going to have a good message as we move forward," said Goodin. "Everybody's going to be on the same page."
Rep. Terri Austin, D-Anderson, who is the minority whip, acknowledged Goodin's background in education could help the caucus.
"We had great people running, but Terry will do a great job and he knows the issues," she said.
Goodin, considered a conservative Democrat, didn't address priorities for the upcoming session of the General Assembly but he did mention support for ending the process of setting up voting districts that give advantages to particular political parties, known as gerrymandering.
"We've got to try to find a position where voters can actually choose their candidates instead of candidates choosing their voters," Goodin said. "That's got to be the message that goes out across the state. It's a real issue, not just Indiana's issue but nationwide."
The message lines up with attempts by Democrats in the Indiana Senate. There, Sen. Tim Lanane, D-Anderson, has been seeking the creation of a bipartisan commission to address gerrymandering.
There have been recent rallies in support of redistricting reform led by Common Cause Indiana and the League of Women Voters.
"It is the issue that needs to be at the top of the legislative agenda in 2018," said Julia Vaughn, Common Cause Indiana policy director.
Common Cause often points to Goodin's own District 66 as an example of gerrymandering; the shape of his Ohio River district resembles a rooster, Vaughn said.
"He certainly understands that where the lines fall matter," Vaughn said. "His district doesn't make a lot of sense. If the lines made sense he would probably represent more of Jefferson County than he does but that county's really been sliced up."
Most recently, Goodin has pushed for additional benefits for long-time law enforcement veterans and the addition of new magistrates to help caseloads in Jefferson and Scott counties.
In a statement, House Leader Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, said, “Unlike Washington, D.C., here in Indiana, the vast majority of successful legislation passes the General Assembly with bipartisan authorship, sponsorship and support. Hoosier legislators have a long track record of reaching across the aisle to find common ground on many issues and we look forward to continuing that work with the new minority leader, State Rep. Terry Goodin, as we head into another important legislative session.”