This I know: Opinions do count.
Those who know this man say he is in fact a quiet man. One who has taken seriously his role in public service. His reputation bears the fruit of being a problem solver; someone who gets people to come together to talk calmly about issues they openly don’t agree on. He’s a family man who loves kids and actually goes to where they gather without publicity to read to them, encouraging them to think about what they might want to do with their lives, their dreams. He never breaks a promise and sincerely believes that being involved in public service is a privilege and a 24-7 responsibility for all elected office holders.
In 1990, James (Jim) Merritt began his journey as one of the youngest to be sworn in as an Indiana State Senator.
“Looking back on that day at just 31 years of age, I realize now how innocent I was at that time. There are a certain amount of bells and whistles that can indeed be distracting in public life. If you keep your feet planted and your actions based on what really matters, you can get things accomplished for the people who elected you to serve them,” he said reflectively.
Sitting across from this man, you absolutely feel the energy and experience Merritt brings to the table on multiple government issues. He has become a key team player in Indiana’s economic development built on legislation that encourages job growth. He serves as the chair of the Senate Majority Caucus where his leadership has helped Indiana to pass four consecutive balanced budgets.
He is chairman of the Indiana Senate Utilities & Technology Committee. He is also the ranking member on Homeland Security, Transportation and Veteran Affairs. Merritt authored Indiana’s Safe Haven Law after an infant was abandoned by its mother and died outside an eastside hospital. This Law allows a parent to drop off a child anonymously with no questions asked within 45 days of birth at any hospital, police or fire station.
Passionate about preserving Indiana history, he authored a book, Passing the Torch: Preserving Indiana’s Heritage. This book is filled with wonderful information on Indiana’s landmarks, memorials, treasured artifacts, and the State Archives. He also serves as a member of the board of trustees for the Indiana Historical Society and the board of directors of the Friends of Indiana Archives.
When asked about future efforts, Merritt was thoughtful in outlining his personal priorities. Simply put they include: Expanding the Safe Haven Law through education and community partnership; Developing his Merritt Readers program in schools; Working to solve the abandoned homes situation, focusing on what Merritt calls, the Good Samaritan Law, which will allow property owners to have a hand in the care of maintaining the outside property appearance of abandoned homes in their own neighborhood without penalty, until the home can be sold or fixed up by the mortgage holder; And, getting out to meet people in his newly shifted district (31), which now includes much of Fishers.
When asked if he has higher aspirations for public office he replied, “I am focused on my job at hand.”
Merritt is vice president of corporate affairs for the Indiana Railroad Company. He and his wife Kelley, a nurse, have two daughters (Abby and Jennifer), and a son (Will). His daughters attend Hanover College and his son is a freshman at DePauw University.
One last opinion was offered up on Jim Merritt that I thought should be shared: “Jim’s a great example of excellence in public service, but he’s not so great as a politician ….” In today’s world, this quote speaks volumes for the quiet man who has a clear understanding of the office he holds and the people he serves.
To reach Senator Jim Merritt just give him a call at his office: (317) 232-9400 or drop him an email at: www.S31@in.gov