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Alum joins race for Indiana governor

Amanda Gonzales | Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Jim Schellinger, a 1984 Notre Dame architecture graduate, has entered the race to become the 50th governor of Indiana with a “moderate to conservative Democrat” platform and a strong desire to serve the electorate, he said.

Born in South Bend, Schellinger would become the second University graduate to ascend to Indiana’s executive office. Joe Kernan, a 1968 graduate and former mayor of South Bend, was elected in 1996 as lieutenant governor to Governor Frank O’Bannon. Kernan took over the office after O’Bannon’s death in 2003.

After Schellinger graduated with an architecture degree, he went on to work for CSO Architects – one of the top five architecture companies in Indianapolis – and became the firm’s president in 1996.

Schellinger said he hopes to defeat the Republican incumbent, Mitch Daniels, after he defeats his competition in the Democratic primary, State Senator Richard Young and former Congresswoman Jill Long.

“To put it simply, Indiana should be doing better and should have better leadership,” Schellinger said. “Running for governor is an opportunity to step out of my comfort zone and take a greater social responsibility.”

He said he is prepared to give Indiana what it needs to improve the state and obtain better leadership.

“One of my goals is making sure I listen and I hear what Hoosiers want. … I reflect a vision that reflects their values,” he said.

Schellinger said he believes his major contributions to the state of Indiana will be to listen to the problems and ideas of his constituents.

“I will put forth common sense to solutions and tackle problems in order to unite the state and move it forward,” he said.

His campaign co-chairs are Indianapolis Mayor Bart Peterson, U.S. Representative Julia Carson of Indiana’s seventh congressional district, former Indiana House Speaker John Gregg and Bob Schellinger, his brother who is the head football coach at LaPorte High School.

The campaign for the primary elections, which will be held in May 2008, has taken over his agenda these days, Schellinger said. Even though catering to the needs of 6.4 million Indiana citizens keeps him busy, he said that it is a “fun busy.”

While growing up, Schellinger never had any political aspirations. But after he became a partner in the architecture firm, it was “a catalyst to help people develop their core person” from a top administrative position, he said.

He credited Notre Dame with helping him cultivate social responsibilities and a commitment to making contributions to the community. Schellinger said he often returns to his alma mater to visit his family and attend football games – and he hopes to talk to more students during his campaign, he said.

Schellinger and his wife, Laura, live in Indianapolis with their three sons, Nick, John and Zack. He is the sixth of eight children and one of three that attended Notre Dame. His brother, Joe, an alumnus, works at the University as director of academic space management.  Schellinger’s mother, Pat, worked at the University for 19 years, he said.