By Michele F. Mihaljevich
NOBLESVILLE, Ind. — Indiana Sen. Victoria Spartz (R-20th) grew up around farm animals in her native Ukraine and now owns a large row crop operation with her husband. She is one of 16 Republicans seeking their party’s nomination for U.S. Representative from the state’s 5th Congressional District.
The district consists of Grant, Hamilton, Madison and Tipton counties and parts of Blackford, Boone, Howard and Marion counties. It includes sections of northern Indianapolis and also rural areas. Five people are running in the Democratic Party primary. The incumbent, Rep. Susan Brooks, also a Republican, said last year she would not seek re-election. Indiana’s primary is June 2.
Spartz is focusing in part on things that will “empower” agriculture: rural broadband and good infrastructure. “I can run my business from anywhere if we have a good internet,” she noted. “The (COVID-19) crisis could bring some innovation on remote abilities. That will help Indiana. Whether you’re in Elwood or Indianapolis, if you have good internet, you can run your world-class operation.”
Access to broadband also gives patients the opportunity to use telehealth services from their doctors or medical professionals nationwide, Spartz said. “It allows access to people and information. Information is gold. It’s the biggest asset we have right now. It can empower people to learn and succeed.”
She hopes to see improvement in such infrastructure as roads and rails. Indiana can be helped by the creation of more value-added agricultural products in the state, Spartz added.
Her family has a long history of farming in the Ukraine. At one time, the family owned quite a bit of land, she said, before Communists came into power and took it away.
“That’s the first thing Communists do,” Spartz explained. “If you want to make people dependent, you take their land. They pushed everyone to collective farming. As I was growing up, my family did have a little land – maybe half an acre – and had four-five cows at a time. I grew up with the cows and the land.”
She met her husband Jason on a train in Europe. He was there visiting relatives and she had an internship in Poland. “After I graduated, we decided to get married. I was young and adventurous and decided to move to another country.”
Victoria and Jason have been married 20 years and have two daughters – Lilianna and Ingrid.
Spartz has bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the National University of Economics in Ukraine, and a Master of Professional Accountancy from the Indiana University Kelley School of Business.
After her marriage, she became a U.S. citizen. She and Jason have a 3,000-acre commercial farm where they primarily grow soybeans along with some wheat. She was previously CFO of the Indiana Attorney General’s office.
Spartz has served as state senator since 2017, when she was elected by caucus to replace Luke Kenley, who retired.
“I was just sick and tired of what’s happening in our country,” Spartz pointed out. “No one wants to work on policy. There are a lot of politics. Everything is out of control and everyone tries to blame someone else. Politicians don’t get things done. I feel I can contribute some of my skills. It’s important to our country – we have to fix the problems.”
The coronavirus has made some aspects of running for Congress more difficult, she said. “It’s challenging. I love meeting with people, having debates and looking people in the eye. There will be more digital advertising, more TV advertising, more mail-ins. I call people, use video calls. We just have to do our best.”
If elected to Congress, Spartz plans to work to fix health care, education and immigration. “I bring leadership to be able to get things done. They’ve been procrastinating and playing politics. We need to have a much better work visa policy. It should be a much easier process. We need to have higher expectations for Congress. We have such low expectations.”