King, Hajicek discuss District 49 concerns

Apr. 23—GOSHEN — The highest office competing during the Goshen Candidate Forum on Monday, contestants for Indiana House of Representatives District 49, Joanna King and Cindi Hajicek, were asked one question from the public: main issues surrounding food production and how candidates would work to help improve food supply.

"My concern is carbon sequestration, that my opponent voted for in 2022," Hajicek told the crowd at the Goshen Theater. "That is a war on food and farmers and ultimately our aquifers. When the carbon dioxide leeches back into the water, aquifers, we will have carbonic acid. We are paying for that and we need to reverse and end carbon sequestration. It is based on faulty climate change science and other efforts that we are paying for. If private enterprise did it and it didn't harm the environment, that would be different, but when you get into taxpayer-funded solar farms where the solar farms could be toxic like what happened in Texas, we need to be very careful that we are protecting our farmers without funding our own demise as far as solar, carbon sequestration and other Green Deal efforts."

King said she only learned about carbon sequestration in the last five years, and when the bill was authored in 2022, she worked with Farm Bureau to create changes to the bill.

"By the time we got it to the finish line, we addressed the two issues that they asked us to address," she said. "One was 'fair compensation,' and the other was 'land rights' and then Farm Bureau supported that bill. That's why I voted 'yes' on that bill and I'll continue to vote when farmers tell me this is the best for them."

King also commented that much of the carbon sequestration in Indiana is taking place in the southern portion of the state as a pilot project.

"There are farmers that are wanting answers and this is one of the ways that we can help answer that question," she said.

In her questions as moderator for the forum, Sheila Selman asked King and Hajicek their thoughts on the new proposed state graduation guidelines.

A home-schooling mother, Hajicek said "We need to take a long, hard look at education," commenting that in the '80s and '90s, test scores showed that most students were reading and performing math at or above grade level, and aren't today.

"In a five-year time frame, from 2014 to 2019, grade level proficiencies at Middlebury schools declined 41% during that time frame," she said. "As we look at overhauling, we cannot negate where we have been. What were we doing then that we have moved away from and that would be implementing Common Core, even though Indiana didn't call it that. ... We need to get back to solid education."

"I don't want to have the training that is so needed ... in lieu of education," she added. "As we overhaul the graduation, we need to make sure that students are trained and are able to live life and read and understand what they are reading."

King asked if Hajicek knew what tests she was referring to regarding drops in proficiency.

"The reason that that's critical is because in education, they change those tests almost every year, and it's really hard and that's what's unfortunate," King said. "Our kids do need to learn how to read. I agree with you 100%, but you have to be able to compare one test to the next test and it needs to be the same and that's not what was happening over that time."

In response to the question posed, King said that one of the things needed in education is ensuring that every child has the path set before them that is correct for the individual.

"Not every child is suited to go to college, not every child is going to go directly to career, not every child works well with work-based learning, and not every child is going to go into the military, but we want to be able to give kids the very best options that they can to pursue their dreams, their God-given abilities and talents, and be able to do it in a way that is honoring to their family," King said. "It should never be the government telling you how to raise your family, where you should send them to school, or what the next steps should be for your children."

Social media was another question posed by the moderator.

King authored a bill in the last cycle, and said of the five bills she authored, more people contacted her about the bill regarding social media and minors than all the other bills combined.

"Social media is causing harm to our children today," she said. "The same thing that happens to a child's brain when they do drugs is the same thing that happens with the algorithms that continue to be pushed onto our children from social media companies. ... It is causing severe anxiety and depression in our children."

Hacijek agreed.

"Children that are exposed to screens at a young age, that affects their neurological pathways, and they cannot function to the same level as if they're exposed to screens, say, at age 9 or after," Hacijek said. "We need to make sure that we aren't supporting with any kind of tax breaks or revenue. We need to make sure that one part of our government isn't supporting it while the other part of the government is fighting it ... but also, there is church government, there is civil government, and there is family government. We cannot control what families do and allow their children to be exposed to, but as civil government, we need those guardrails."

The candidates' second moderator question was concerning a bill that King voted 'yes' for, related to the purchase of Indiana land by adversarial countries. Selman asked them if more similar oversight was needed for national security.

Hajicek said she didn't feel the bill was strong enough.

"We need to not allow adversarial nations to buy land in Indiana," she said. "We need to take a strong stand."

King explained that there are 93 countries on the list.

"Most of you know the top five, and most of you would know the top, which is China," King said. "China continues to buy property here in the United States and they should be precluded from doing that."

King commented that regardless of where it's at, the bill prohibits the purchase of land anywhere in the state.

The last moderator question asked the conservator candidates if they were concerned about the possibility of a total ban on abortion and conversations with other women on the topic.

"I believe that life begins at conception and I believe that every life is a give from God and should be protected from conception to natural death," King said. "I voted for Senate Bill 1 because I believe that we need to honor that life."

King said that to make the law constitutional, the life of the mother will always be an exception and she believes it should be.

"The last thing I want to do, especially on this bill, is pass something that's unconstitutional, nonsensical, or unenforceable," she said. "More importantly, I want to work with women and help provide ways that we can all support them."

Hajicek said she felt the bill left opportunities for loopholes.

"The mother's life is not an issue," she said. "Protection of the mother's life is always there. You 'do no harm.' Once abortion is not on the plate, you're looking at the mother and child as two patients and you're trying to do the best for both."

Hajicek's concern also circulated around how exactly rape or incest is determined within the bill. She read in the bill that, 'after proper examination, the abortion is being performed at the woman's request, because the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest.'

"In legal language, that means that at the woman's request, she says she was raped and the physician reports that, puts it down, and the abortion continues. We have loophole after loophole in our laws. Right now a minor can get an abortion without parental consent and the legal fees are paid by the state as well as the abortion. This is not a culture of life. We can do better as a state."

Dani Messick is the education and entertainment reporter for The Goshen News. She can be reached at or at 574-538-2065.