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Exclusive: One-on-one with Gov. Eric Holcomb

INDIANAPOLIS - Four months ago, Governor Eric Holcomb was sworn into office as Indiana’s 51st governor. He’s an Indianapolis native, but many Hoosiers are still getting to know our new governor.

In fact a recent poll shows he’s the most unknown governor in all 50 states, with many voters who still haven’t formed an opinion of him yet.

Recently, we walked the halls with Gov. Holcomb at his alma mater, Pike High School, where he’s always been a familiar face.

“Pike really got me I think on track,” said Gov. Holcomb. “You might say it all started here.”

Here at Pike, is where Gov. Holcomb won his very first election, more than thirty years ago.

“This is where one of my teachers actually suggested I run for senior class President, so I did, and the rest as they say is history,” said Holcomb.

On Sunday, Gov. Holcomb was inducted into the school's alumni hall of fame.

“We had teachers who every day encouraged us to sometimes get out of our comfort zones,” said Holcomb. “We were and Pike still is a very diverse township, I just remember in our class, we all got along with each other.”

It goes without saying, that's not always the case in the world of politics.

But by many accounts, Holcomb's first legislative session was largely free of controversy, unlike others in recent years.

“What I’m most proud of is the way that we collaborated, the way we came together, the way we stayed focused (and) bi-partisan,” said Holcomb.

Building bi-partisan support has been a key focus for Holcomb, but it's not always that simple. Democrats say the state's budget didn't go far enough funding pre-K and public schools, citing school closings, classroom consolidations and an over-emphasis on funding for charter schools.

There was also the debate over the state takeover of public schools in Gary and Muncie.

We asked Holcomb if the state was hurting public education by putting money into private schools.

“I think they can complement each other not compete,” said Holcomb. “We are funding our public schools at record levels again this budget session.”

More funding for roads and bridges came in this year's budget, and the governor approved a hike in the state's gas tax.

After four months on the job, the governor says he’s already making his mark, especially after facing so many questions on the campaign about whether he’d be more like his predecessor, Gov. Mike Pence or former Gov. Mitch Daniels.

“I'm 100 percent Eric and not looking to change,” said Holcomb. “Obviously I've got big shoes to fill but I’m filling them with my own feet.”

Sunday morning, you can see more of our interview with Holcomb on this week’s edition of IN Focus, as we discuss some of the big issues facing our state.