Last week, State Rep. Christy Stutzman stunned Hoosiers she represents in northern Indiana by announcing her decision to step down from her seat in the Indiana House, only weeks after having been re-elected.
Stutzman is a co-owner of The Barns at Nappanee, which is the home of the old Amish Acres. It’s a business she, her husband, former Congressman Marlin Stutzman, and a few other investors bought at auction in late 2019 before the coronavirus pandemic hit.
“I really have not thought I would have had to make this decision until the last executive order came down,” Stutzman said to All Indiana Politics on WISH-TV. “That was kind of the last straw. We could not survive financially if I didn’t take on more responsibility.”
Stutzman said the business had been doing somewhat well despite the pandemic along with complying with restrictions from the state and local leaders in northern Indiana with the reopening efforts between late June and September. But with the resurgence of the virus coming about, Gov. Eric Holcomb rolled things back and took a more targeted approach on restrictions based on how bad the spread is in each particular county.
For some areas, this meant some closures or stricter capacity limits.
“We’ve had to do several rounds of layoffs,” Stutzman said. “We are down to a skeleton crew. We are trying to make ends meet. We’ve invested in this business personally.”
The personal investment has gotten so great in order to keep The Barns at Nappanee running that Stutzman said she had to resign. It’s a decision she says took the governor’s office and many lawmakers by surprise, but she said they also understand her decision.
Stutzman feels at this point Gov. Holcomb is overstepping his executive authority and that lawmakers need to be included in the decision-making process from here on out.
“I don’t have all the answers but I will tell you I don’t think the businesses are the problem,” she said. “I understand some of the protocols, I some of the restrictions. I definitely would see that, as based on data, as a decision he would have to make, but at the same time I truly don’t believe the businesses are the cause of the problem.”
She said, based on looking at data and trying to understand everything as best she can, that the virus is being spread elsewhere amongst the community.
State Republicans have not laid out any definitive plans yet as to when they will hold a caucus to replace Stutzman.