Peggy and Penny: women with similar first names, mothers of sons, seeking the same state House of Representatives seat.
The two do not have much else in common, though.
Peggy Mayfield, a Republican who lives in Martinsville, was elected in 2012 to represent District 60 in the Indiana House, where she is the assistant majority floor leader. She and her husband own and manage a Mooresville-based insurance agency.
Penny Githens, a Democrat who lives in Bloomington, is seeking political office for the first time. But she is not new to the political process, having fought for and secured health insurance coverage for children with autism under state law. She is a project manager for the Indiana University School of Education.
Both are on the ballot in District 60, which covers portions of Monroe and Morgan counties. The women have different views about current issues facing state lawmakers. When presented with three questions regarding the issues, Githens responded by email within 48 hours and was available for follow-up inquiries.
Mayfield received the questions via email on Sept. 27, and was handed a printed copy of the questions during the Peden Farm Festival in Monroe County two days later. She said the questions — about budget priorities, LGBT rights and local gun legislation — were familiar.
But as of the deadline for this story, she still had not answered them.
On priorities for the next state budget, Githens says education funding should be at the heart of lawmakers’ agendas. “The entire fabric of our state rests on the education of our children,” she said, advocating that money be focused on preschool, mandatory kindergarten and higher teacher salaries.
She also wants the state to take a serious look at its infrastructure. “Indiana has over 1,700 structurally deficient bridges, and our roads, ports, airports, water treatment and sewer systems are aging.”
She supports upgrading broadband internet access in rural areas, “without selling off rights to corporations,” to provide Hoosiers with living-wage jobs.
Mayfield, who was Morgan County clerk from 2007 to 2012, calls herself a “fiscal conservative” on her website and in campaign literature, and prides herself on operating her office under budget when she was county clerk.
Githens favors adding protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people to the state’s human rights ordinance. “These individuals pay taxes and are contributing members of society. Beyond that, I oppose all forms of discrimination,” she said, citing a Ball State University study showing 70 percent of Indiana residents agree.
Mayfield did not vote on a measure last session that would have prohibited discrimination against LGBT people under the state’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act. She voted in favor of a measure defining marriage as a legal union between just a man and a woman.
Githens said that when it comes to a citizen’s right to carry firearms, local lawmakers should have a say in the matter. “I believe local communities should be able to decide what gun restrictions they feel are appropriate,” Githens said. “This is not an effort to suppress Second Amendment rights, but to allow local communities, through their elected officials, to make their own decisions.”
Mayfield is a certified rifle and shotgun instructor and skeet competitor who champions the Second Amendment. She is a National Rifle Association member who pays hundreds of dollars beyond the $40 annual dues to be an endowed voting member.