As the Democratic candidate in the Fifth Congressional District race, Angela Demaree brings a unique background to the table.
She’s a major in the U.S. Army Reserves with a deployment during Operation Enduring Freedom under her belt. She’s a veterinarian and the daughter of two public school teachers. Utilizing all these unique experiences, she hopes to end the dead-lock in Congress.
So far this year, 31 pieces of legislation have been written into law. Over the last couple years ire has been dispensed by the American people over what has been called the most unproductive Congress in American history.
“They’ve got a 247 vote majority,” said Demaree. “It takes 218 to pass something. So why do we have the least productive Congress in history?”
Demaree draws a parallel between Congress and the unit she served with during Operation Enduring Freedom. Just as the members of her unit represented Americans from different walks of life, Congress is an amalgamation of individuals representing vastly different backgrounds and areas affected by varying issues.
“As a member of Congress, we’re going to work together with whoever is to our left and whoever is to our right, just like I did in the military,” said Demaree. “We’re going to get the job done. We’re going to find common ground, say, ‘OK here’s our goals.’ When your goals align you can move mountains. It’s finding folks who want to get a budget passed on time, who want to ensure we have equal pay for equal work.”
Going forward toward the General Election against incumbent Rep. Susan Brooks, Demaree hopes to separate herself from her opponent via access. After failed attempts at contact with Brooks in 2013, Demaree said she’s driven to hear from her constituents.
According to Demaree, in 2013 she reached out to Brooks hoping to discuss legislation concerning military sexual assault. She said she wanted to meet with Brooks at the representative’s leisure during the August recess. Demaree said her request was denied because Brooks didn’t serve on the veteran affairs committee.
“They suggested I find a different congress member in the state of Indiana that sat on the veteran affairs committee to meet with,” said Demaree. “I said, ‘Well, that’s not how Congress should work. That’s not how our government should work, and I’m not one of their constituents.’ So, I believe firmly in having access to your elected officials. The elected officials are out there talking to people, and they understand people and what their struggles and ideas are.”
The importance of accessibility, to Demaree, is especially important within the fifth district with urban, suburban, and rural areas all being located within the district borders. With each different geographic area, different issues arise.
“There are, quite frankly, a multitude of issues that impact a community differently,” said Demaree. “We need to have a multi-pronged and comprehensive approach in understanding the needs of every community.”
Similarly, she advocates for a hands-off approach to education reform from the federal government, allowing for more freedom of choice in school districts. As she put it, those involved in the school districts know best what is needed in that specific area.
With two parents who worked as educators, Demaree presents several education-based ideas. For example, she wants to focus on pre-k education should she be elected and cites an economic return on investment in early childhood education.
“There’s about an $11 return of economic benefit to that child during its lifetime for every $1 we invest in pre-k education,” said Demaree. “Basically, that economic benefit to that child is their earning potential. So, for every $1 we’re investing over the lifetime of the child, we get that $11 economic benefit where they’re going on to further education, where they’re contributing to society later. It could be a whole host of issues. The economic benefit and return directly to that community would be a $3 to $4 return on investment.”
She also promotes a public health initiative that she believes is of importance particularly in Indiana after the recent HIV and Hepatitis C outbreaks in the state. Investment in public health infrastructure, she said, could result in job creation.
“We’ve known since 2008 that Indiana’s got one of the worst public health infrastructure of all 50 states,” said Demaree. “We know on a national level if we would invest just $10 per person in community-based public health programs, we could save Medicare and Medicaid over $4 billion annually within as little as five years. That’s a really great return on investment.
“Now, when we’re looking at investing that $10 per person in community-based programs that improve the local quality of life, if you’re improving the local quality of life -- and we’ve seen that locally here in Kokomo -- you’re attracting jobs. You’re attracting businesses. It’s places where executive teams want to live and raise a family. As you’re growing these communities and improving the quality of life, you’re having higher wages and more jobs, sort of going full circle in the right direction.”