Former Mill Race Center director to seek District 59 seat

Bob Pitman, who served as executive director of Mill Race Center for 29 years, said he plans to enter the primary field next year as a Democrat seeking the District 59 state representative.

The incumbent is Republican Milo Smith, who is serving his fifth term.

Pitman said he would like to bring a measure of civility and bipartisanship to an increasingly polarized state legislature and government.

“Also, I think it is important to take better care of Hoosier families, especially our most vulnerable members — the youngest and the oldest — as well as those who may not yet be fully embraced by society,” Pitman said.

Pitman also said he was running to call attention to the injustices and lack of political commitment to the needs of lower-income Hoosiers and others overlooked by society. He described a special mission as helping the state’s growing number of older adults to be recognized as a valuable community resource.

He will make his formal campaign announcement at 10 a.m. Saturday at YES Cinema, 328 Jackson St.

As director of Mill Race Center, he worked with the Mill Race board and community leaders for nearly 20 years to plan and raise $8.5 million for a new facility for seniors that opened in February 2011.

A native of Logansport, Pitman served as a leader for 15 years with the National Institute of Senior Centers and as that organization’s chairman from 2006 to 2008.

In 2012, Pitman received the William R. Laws Human Rights Award in Columbus for his longtime support of the needs of older adults.

He retired from Mill Race Center in December 2014. The Pitman Institute for Aging Well was established in his honor.

Pitman graduated from Logansport High School in 1967 and was the first in his family to graduate from college, receiving a bachelor of arts in political science in 1971 and a master’s degree in college personnel administration in 1976, both degrees from Indiana University.

He also served as director of non-traditional student services at Wichita State University and admissions and career planning and placement director at Ivy Tech Community College – Columbus.

He has also been a houseparent at the Indiana School for the Deaf and an English teacher with the Peace Corps in the Republic of Niger in West Africa.

Pitman is the second candidate to announce interest in the District 59 race. Bartholomew County Assessor Lew Wilson declared his interest last week as a Republican.

Candidates cannot officially declare their candidacies for the 2016 elections until after Jan. 1.

Bob Pitman

Age: 66

Current office held: None

Elected office held: None

Education: Graduated from Logansport High School in 1967, bachelor of arts in political science in 1971 and master’s in college personnel administration in 1976, both from Indiana University.

Family: Wife, Judy Krieg, and two daughters, Emma Harmon (married to Andy), one grandchild, Bennett Harmon, all of Davenport, Iowa; and Cassie Gonsior, (married to Josh), Columbus.

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Julie McClure is assistant managing editor of The Republic. She can be reached at or (812) 379-5631.