Forty Under 40: Andre Carson

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In an election year in which Democrats nationwide suffered heavy losses, Andre Carson prevailed in his re-election bid to Congress.

Carson, a Democrat representing the state’s Seventh District, believes the reason is simple: He took care of Indianapolis.

Some examples of funding he brought home include: $190,000 for The Mind Trust, an education advocacy group; $381,000 for Riley Hospital for Children’s Cancer Center Expansion; $2.5 million for Indianapolis’ North Flood Control Damage Reduction Project; $500,000 for police technology; and $475,000 for transportation improvements downtown.

Carson said his priority is on filling local needs, not frills: “This funding is having a real impact on people’s lives,” he said.

He arrived in Congress when the country was knee-deep in an economic crisis, unemployment was soaring and stocks were plunging.

As a member of the House Financial Services Committee, he was involved in legislation to reform Wall Street and help the country weather the economic storm.
Economic-stimulus funds helped Indiana save the jobs of hundreds of teachers.

“Those layoffs would have hurt our economy as well as our kids in the classroom,” said Carson, whose wife, Mariama Carson, is a principal in the Pike Township School District.

While he’s in Washington, D.C., his wife and daughter are home in Indianapolis. He admits it’s a challenge to manage work and family commitments.

“I’ll video-chat with her and my daughter, or we’ll use FaceTime on our iPhones,” he said. “I also fly home to Indy nearly every weekend.”

While he got his start in politics on the Indianapolis City-County Council, he inherited his love of public service from his late grandmother, Congresswoman Julia Carson.

A graduate of Arsenal Technical High School, he has a degree in criminal justice from Concordia University in Wisconsin and an MBA from Indiana Wesleyan University.

Carson keeps the attention and honors that come his way with increasing frequency in perspective with an old Zen saying:

“Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water,” he said, laughing. Then, in a more serious tone, he added, “We have so many challenges as a community and as a country. I’m blessed to be where I am, but I’ve got a lot more wood to chop and water to carry.”?

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