By Marilyn Odendahl

The Indiana Citizen

September 15, 2023

Sen. Jon Ford, R-Terre Haute, has announced he will resign his seat in the Indiana General Assembly effective Oct. 16, making him the fourth Republican to leave the Statehouse since the 2023 session ended.

Ford (pictured above) did not give a reason for his decision to resign.

“One of the greatest honors of my life has been serving the residents of Senate District 38,” Ford said in a statement. “I am thankful for the people of Vigo, Clay and Sullivan counties for trusting me in casting important votes on their behalf for nearly a decade. Through my public service, I have met numerous people who aim to make the Wabash Valley and Indiana a better place to raise a family.”

Three other legislators have exited the General Assembly this year, after being reelected in 2022. Rep. Ann Vermilion, R-Marion, left immediately after the 2023 session gaveled to a close, while Rep. Randy Frye, R-Greensburg, stepped down in July, and Sen. Chip Perfect, R-Lawrenceburg, announced last month that he will leave Sept. 26.

Sen. Eddie Melton, D-Gary, may be the fifth legislator – and first Democrat –  to leave this year. He is currently on the November ballot to be mayor of Gary. He unseated incumbent Mayor Jerome Prince in the primary and is facing Republican Andrew Delano in the general election.

Replacements for Vermilion, Frye and Perfect have been selected by precinct officials in caucus votes in the respective districts. In the most recent caucus held Tuesday, a Guilford business owner, Randy Maxwell, was chosen to replace Perfect.

Five legislators stepping down mid-term appear to be a record, according to statistics kept by Capitol & Washington. The most in previous years were three departures in 2008, 2018 and 2020.

Indiana Republican Party executive director Joe Elsener dismissed the notion that the departures were a sign of a crisis in the Indiana GOP.

“The Republican Party is strong,” Elsener told The Indiana Citizen. “I think these new members will come in, will be eager and excited to get to work and do a good job representing their constituency.”

Ford’s district covers Vigo and Clay counties and a portion of Sullivan County. He was first elected to the Senate in 2014, defeating Democratic opponent Tim Skinner with 52% of the votes. He ran for reelection last year and did not have an opponent in either the primary or general election.

Adopted as a toddler, Ford championed children and foster families in the Statehouse. He authored legislation requiring the Indiana Department of Child Services to develop and update a statement of the rights of foster parents and in 2022, he pushed for children in the foster care system to be appointed attorneys in court proceedings.

He also authored bills expanding the eligibility requirements for food stamps and he requested the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration reconsider a proposed fee-for-service rate for Applied Behavior Analysis therapy services.

In the summer of 2021, Ford chaired the public redistricting hearings held in Anderson, Columbus, Evansville and Sellersburg. He said public input was “extremely important” as the legislature redrew the House and Senate districts.

Dwight Adams, a freelance editor and writer based in Indianapolis, edited this article. He is a former content editor, copy editor and digital producer at The Indianapolis Star and, and worked as a planner for other newspapers, including the Louisville Courier Journal. 

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