Staker announces bid for open senate seat

Former marine, Jeff Staker (R) is running to replace Randy Head for state senator in district 18. Tony Walters | Pharos-Tribune

Jeffery Staker has announced that he is seeking the senate seat in District 18.

The seat is currently held by Sen. Randy Head (R-Logansport), who is set to retire from the state legislature on Aug. 12 to become Chief Deputy Prosecutor for Pulaski County.

Staker is a lifelong Hoosier, United States Marine Corps veteran, father, husband and leading advocate for medical cannabis in Indiana. He’s the founder of Hoosier Veterans for Medical Cannabis (HVMC), a nonprofit organization with the goal of educating and informing the public of a beneficial alternative to combatting the opioid overdose epidemic in the U.S. and Indiana.

Staker and others believe that cannabis can prevent wounded veterans from getting addicted to pain medication and can help combat-related mental health issues like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

“The polls are showing about 84 percent of our citizens and about 90 percent of our veterans here in Indiana are in support of medical cannabis – not recreational – but medical,” said Staker. “The issue is that representation isn’t in our statehouse.”

After having served 11 years in the Marines as a scout sniper and drill instructor, Staker spent time with the Indiana Army National Guard and Indiana Air National Guard. For the past 22 years, he has worked at Grissom Air Reserve Base as a security officer and firefighter.

Staker said he had been prescribed opiates through the Veterans Administration (VA) up until 2016.

“I was on oxycodone through the VA for about eight years,” he said. “I was running the risk of accidentally overdosing before my doctor and I decided to discontinue that medication.”

He then brought up the idea of medicinal cannabis to his doctor.

“I said ‘hey what about all these states passing medical cannabis laws,’” he asked. “My doctor said ‘you know, if I could prescribe and recommend it, I would.’”

As for his nonprofit organization, in 2017 he put together a forum in Washington D.C. at the Rayburn House Office Building, consisting of five renowned doctors from across the U.S. and Canada and five veterans organizations, before senior staff members of the Department of Veterans Affairs, congressional leaders and their staff.

In April of this year, Staker said he was hand delivering documents in Washington D.C.

“I personally hand delivered a package of documents which consisted of a letter from our state legislators addressed to the chairmans of both a House and Senate Committee where bills of interest reside,” said Staker. “This package was also delivered to the President, Vice President, Sec. of the VA, Speaker of the House, Senate Majority Leader, both the House and Senate VA Committee Chairs and to all our state representatives and senators.”

The package of documents included a petition signed by Indiana senators, press releases, an FDA study, stories from veterans and various resolutions in support from the Indiana Chapters of the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars and American Veterans.

A longtime member of the VFW, American Legion, AMVETS and Disabled American Veterans (DAV), Staker has been involved with many issues affecting veterans’ health, rights and privileges. He is currently the Post Judge Advocate and Trustee for VFW Post 2067 in Peru and was formerly assistant Chaplin where he visits with sick and ailing veterans.

His political efforts don’t end at veterans and medicinal cannabis, however. Staker said he will stick up for anyone he believes has been wronged.

“I have gathered concerned parents and petitioned the North Miami School Board against inappropriate conduct of a faculty member,” said Staker. “Also, I along with neighboring residents petitioned our county commissioners to improve road surfacing and upgrades.”

He’s also assisted homeowners and businesses with over inflated tax assessments.

Staker currently works part time at Spear Realty as a real estate appraiser and realtor. He is a resident of Miami County, where he has lived with his wife, Jean, for the past 25 years. He and his wife have five children, two of whom graduated valedictorian from their high school class at North Miami. He says he has “six grandchildren and counting.”

The 53-year-old senatorial candidate says his reason for seeking the seat in District 18 is to be “the voice of the people.”

“I plan not only to put the ‘people first’ as our Governor vows in this upcoming election but I plan to be a servant leader and to be the voice of the people,” Staker said. “I have never been afraid to speak up and fight when my cause is just.”

The state Republican Party is responsible for Head’s replacement for the final year of his term. As of press time, the party hadn’t set a caucus date.

District 18 serves Cass, Fulton and Miami Counties and portions of Carroll, Kosciusko and Marshall counties.

Reach Quentin Blount at quentin.blount@pharostribune.com or 574-732-5130.

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