Democrat Bryan Muñoz, candidate for State Senate District 41


Editor’s note: Democratic challenger Bryan Muñoz is one of two candidates for District 41 in the Indiana State Senate. A Where They Stand interview with his opponent, Republican Sen. Greg Walker, can be found here.

For the past 16 years, District 41 for the Indiana Senate has been occupied by one person.

Republican Sen. Greg Walker was first elected to the seat in 2006, representing the majority of Johnson County and all of Bartholomew County.

Democrat Bryan Muñoz, a first-time candidate from Columbus, will attempt to unseat the incumbent during this year’s general election.

The Daily Journal met with Muñoz to discuss the issues facing District 41 and Indiana, as well as his priorities if elected. Here is what he said, edited for length and grammar:

Why did you want to run for this office?

When I was thinking about running way back in January, public education was at the forefront. I’ve been a teacher now for 13 years, public education all my life. I’m a product of public education, and I believe in public education. I think that we have to fully fund the public education, which means not just teacher salaries but that means increased funding for the classroom, for transportation, for free lunches and for free breakfast. That’s really what motivated me to run. I feel like the state legislature is making decisions that are not good for our community for Johnson County and for Bartholomew County, and I want to make sure that we have a proper representation in Indianapolis. That’s what sparked me to run.

Since then the world has shifted dramatically and a lot of things have happened nationally and in the state and we’ve had to voice our concerns for those issues as well.

What are some of those issues?

Now what our attention is turned to is the overturn of Roe v. Wade, and what the Indiana legislature has done to really restrict the medical rights and the medical privacy of women. That has become a core issue I think in Indiana politics and national politics in the last six months.

Are there any other issues that you feel are really important facing the district?

I think permitless carry right now is also a major safety concern for our area. Our local law enforcement doesn’t believe that permitless carry is something that’s going to keep them safe or keep our community safe. I think ignoring our law enforcement is disrespectful and as they say, it’s not safe.

What makes you the best candidate for this office?

I’ve always had a servant’s heart. When I grew up and I was raised Catholic, and I taught religious education at the Catholic school at my church, though I’m a product of public education. I helped with Junior Achievement and just that kind of educator’s mind has always been inside of me. I think to be a great leader you have to serve others. That’s what we teach in our schools and that’s what we teach in my programs — that great leaders are service to others. I think this is the next logical step for me as a servant for my community is to represent them. I think I do a good job of it. My master’s degree is in education leadership. I talk to our community members every day and feel like I have a strong sense of what’s important in Johnson County and Bartholomew County and can represent them well.

What are some of the accomplishments you’ve had in your career that would serve you well in this position?

I’ve been a semifinalist for Indiana Teacher of the Year. I was Northeast Indiana’s Music Educator of the Year. I’ve been our corporation teacher of the year in my former school. I’ve led workshops in leadership and student leadership. I’m not sure if that prepares you to legislate but, again, I think the ultimate job description for a legislator or for a representative is to represent those constituents — a good representative is a good community member, and that is certainly somebody that I am.

If you were elected, would you say you’d be an advocate for teachers?

Yeah, certainly an advocate for teachers. I think our teachers’ unions need to be given more power in collective bargaining. I think that, again, our local school board should be able to make decisions on curriculum and how they’re spending their funding that best suit their needs. Again, as a public educator, it’s tough to say I’m not gonna support public education. I kind of feel those strains and those struggles every day with standardized testing and beyond.

What are your thoughts on Indiana’s abortion law that was passed, and do you think it will come up again?

It’s quite possibly the largest government overreach in the history of Indiana, possibly in our country — and that’s not hyperbole. I think we have stripped away the rights of women and the medical privacy of families because of the passage of this law. So certainly if I am elected I would work to overturn this, remove this law, return medical privacy to all citizens of Indiana and ensure that any medical decisions that are made are kept between that person, their doctor and their family. Those are who should be making these tough decisions in their lives. Nobody is making these decisions lightly. Nobody is taking this subject casually. These are serious topics. This is a life-changing decision either way and the family is probably at its lowest and most stressful point. They’re considering some of these options and the state doesn’t need to be interfering with that. What the state should be doing is supporting the medical professionals to have the resources available to help all families of all income levels.

What do you think the state should prioritize in the biennial budget session?

Certainly, with the state budget coming up I think we always have to look at education and we need to increase education funding. But we also need to loosen restrictions on how that money is allocated, so again, local school boards can choose to move money to where it would best benefit them. For instance, we have two different pots of money between the general fund and transportation, and we know that lots of school corporations are having to force kids to walk to school because they can’t afford to bus their kids to school. They can’t afford to buy the buses. And then we have other school corporations where they have all the buses they need but they don’t have enough teachers to fill the classrooms and the class sizes are too big. So we have to make sure that not only are funding the schools but that we’re allowing the schools to use those funds as they see best fit. A school in Franklin, Indiana, is going to look much different than a school in Gary, Indiana, and that’s OK. Our needs are different, and we have to make sure is, as a state, we are tailoring or allowing our school boards to tailor to those particular students that money.

What other messages would you want to get out to the voters?

I think if somebody is ready for a change, if somebody wants something different, I think having four terms in office has been plenty of time to make a change. I think it’s time for a real change, which means that we have to be willing to cross party lines to create that change for Johnson County and Bartholomew County — to create change for more jobs, to create change for better education, to create change for more medical privacy.


Name: Bryan Muñoz

Home: Columbus

Party: Democrat

Family: Unmarried, no children

Employment: Director of bands and orchestra, Bartholomew Consolidated School Corporation

Education: Bachelor’s degree, Indiana University Fort Wayne; master’s degree, Indiana Wesleyan University

Political experience: None