Indiana’s Jon Ford recently won the primary election in Indiana’s Senate District 38. He recounts how the industry has prepared him for a role in politics and why industry advocacy is so important.
Working in our industry has prepared me to understand the needs of small business owners, as well as how changes to laws can affect a business and an entire industry.
Last year I attended the 2013 NAMA OneShow at a time when the Indiana legislative budget session ended and we had just discovered there was still to be no relief for Indiana operators.
At this particular OneShow, I vividly remember that in Newt Gingrich’s speech he made it clear that if the industry wants to influence policy, we need to get off of the bench and either run for office or help someone run for office.
I had already helped many people become elected to state or federal office, so after hearing that speech I decided it was my time to run. In the summer of 2013, I made the announcement that I would be a candidate for the Indiana State Senate.
A history of advocacy
My advocacy efforts began fifteen years ago, shortly after joining the industry, when I was asked to become a member of the Indiana Vending Council (IVC). Over the years I have witnessed the many issues the IVC has faced from school nutrition to tax parity.
The IVC fought hard on the school nutrition issue and worked out a compromise. But in the long run many operators in Indiana moved out of providing vending in schools. Healthy products just didn’t sell. This fight made it clear to many of us on the council that we needed to build a stronger relationship with our legislators in order to create change. For the last eight years we have spent a lot of time informing our legislators of the issues our industry faces, in particular, tax parity.
For over 20 years the IVC has fought for tax parity. We have had success in the Statehouse but just can’t get the issue past the state Senate. Working on this issue for ten years has really opened my eyes to the political process. Many legislators say they are shocked to find out that a bottle of water sold through a vending machine is taxable. They will tell you that it is not fair but a very few people in the Senate have blocked our efforts.
When I win this Indiana Senate seat this fall, I will work hard to fix the tax parity issue we have in Indiana and work on the streamline sales tax issue that affects sales tax in more than 18 states.
Jon Ford will appear on Indiana’s Senate District 38 ballot in November 2014. Visit his Website at www.VoteJonFord.com.