Brown County Council member Darren Byrd would like to succeed Eric Koch as Indiana House District 65 representative.
Koch, R-Bedford, has announced his candidacy for the District 44 state senate seat being vacated by retiring Sen. Brent Steele, R-Bedford.
A six-year Navy veteran who worked with missile fire control systems, Byrd spent several years working in construction after his military service. He then enrolled in Ivy Tech to learn computer-aided design with a plan to seek a degree as an architect.
When the housing bubble burst and the economy took a downturn, Byrd was a single father raising two young boys in cooperation with his ex-wife, and no one was building houses.
So, he took his CAD experience and sought employment as a mechanical draftsman with Electric Metal Fab in Helmsburg, where he still works today.
In 2014, Byrd won a seat on the Brown County Council on a platform of fiscal responsibility. He ran his campaign around the idea that if a single father and taxpayer could live within a budget, it wasn’t too much to ask his local government to do the same.
Why is Byrd seeking a higher public office after only a year in local office?
“It seems like everything’s being done to us instead of for us or with us,” he said. “Our government’s supposed to be us — we are supposed to be the government — and through the years and the decades, it seems like it’s getting less and less of us, and more about a bureaucracy that’s dictating and controlling us.”
Serving on the fiscal body of the county, Byrd said he was frustrated by how little control the people have over money derived from the taxes they pay to the county.
“I’m a limited-government guy, so I’d like to be able to bring more of our local control back to the local areas,” he said. “I think there’s too much control over local schools, local roads, what we are able to spend our local money on. It seems like every time local money comes back to us, there’s strings attached from the federal (government) and the state.”
Byrd acknowledged that his greatest challenge may be overcoming lack of name recognition not only in Brown County, but in the rest of District 65, particularly with an opponent from the Bedford area on the ballot.
How will he convince those outside of Brown County that he can also represent them?
“You know, we’re similar, the area of Brown County and Bedford — very similar,” Byrd said. “Bedford’s a little more urban than we are, but we all have our similar concerns, and I’m going to be taking those with me.”
Hometown: Fruitdale, Indiana
Occupation: Mechanical draftsman
Political experience: One year on Brown County Council
Family: Two adult daughters and two teenage sons