Many of the local candidates running for office in the Nov. 6 general election attended Harlem Township’s Civic Association candidate night Wednesday at the township hall. The event was moderated by Katherine Kuck.
Candidates or representatives of candidates fielded questions posed by constituents.
Ohio Attorney General
Steve Dettelbach’s (D) spokesman said that Dettelbach has been a prosecutor and a civil rights attorney who spent 20 years protecting families in the front of courtrooms, “making sure he put away the bad guys who were doing human trafficking and drugs.”
“He has had the opportunity to be appointed by the Obama administration to be the U.S. Northern District Attorney,” Dettelbach’s spokesman said. ‘That’s over 40 counties. Six million people were under his jurisdiction. He put together a robust office that worked to promote transparency.”
Dettelbach believes transparency should be the rule for all of us. “He wants to be sure we’re preserving and protecting that,” the spokesman said.
According to the spokesman, Dettelbach is a “no for Issue 1.”
“While he believes in some of the attenuates of the amendment, he does not believe the issue should be in the Constitution,” he said.
From the back of the room came a question asking where Dettelbach stood on immigration.
“As you know, we’re a nation of immigrants,” the spokesman said. “He is going to be working with law enforcement and the various agencies to be sure that everyone is treated fairly.”
With the increasing drug crisis, one voter asked about Dettelbach’s view on the creation of drug courts in Ohio.
“He wants to make sure there are drug courts available in every county across Ohio,” he said. “That is his particular perspective. He believes by not having drug courts in every county, we’re not giving everybody the opportunity to walk into recovery.”
According to Dettelbach’s spokesman, he is working to put together a three-point plan that covers from addiction to recovery, to prevent people from cycling back to addiction.
Ohio Senate District 19
Lousie Valentine (D) said since she is running for office, she feels it’s her duty to come out and talk with the voters. She said she is running because she feels Ohio’s future is on the ballot.
“We really need to be focused on our future in Ohio,” she said. “I have not been satisfied over the last several years with the way our state has been going.”
Valentine lives in Genoa Township with her husband and twin boys. Originally from northeast Ohio, she holds a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Science in consumer sciences. She employed with L-Brands and Victoria Secret, but quit to run for office. She has been a Democrat since she was 18 years old.
Valentine said if she had done as bad a job that these people have done, she would have been fired.
“If you don’t feel like your legislators are not doing right by you, vote them out,” she said.
Valentine said she feels the biggest problem, long-term, is education.
“We need to get the right people at the table. We need to get all the stakeholders, parents, teachers, experts in the economy and do the research on how much it does cost to educate a child,” she said. “We have failed to do that.”
Valentine said she is for getting rid of gains caps, so “we don’t have schools like Olentangy” having a huge influx of students and “the state saying sorry, you don’t get any more money because that is a big problem.” She said no charter schools for-profit. She believes there is a place for them, but they need to be held to the same standards as public schools. She also addressed testing.
Andrew Brenner (R) did not attend the event.
State Representative 68 District
Rick Carfagna (R) is the incumbent of the 68th District who sponsored nine bipartisan bills that passed through the Ohio House of Representatives. Six were signed by the governor. Prior to being elected to the Ohio House, he was a Genoa Township trustee for seven years.
“Township trustee is a non-partisan office,” he said. “There is no conservative or liberal way to fix a pothole. We checked our politics at the door. That is something that is sorely missed.”
Carfagna said he is pro-life, but he does believe in exceptions for rape, incest or the life of the mother. He said it would be very hard for him to vote for the Heartbeat Bill supported by Mike DeWine, R-Cedarville, the gubernatorial candidate.
“I’d have to see what the finished product looks like,” he said. “It’s never gotten to the full vote of the Ohio House, at least not since I’ve been there.”
Carfagna said he does “freely admit” supporting and voting for an abortion bill in the case of Down syndrome. He said he has a daughter, and he is sensitive to the issue.
“I believe there are times that discretion is merited,” he said.
Carfagna said in the past state budget, he asked for a fair funding amendment for education.
“School districts in the state should never get any less than the money that is being given to non-public schools,” he said. “What we really need to do is fully fund the formula, but that is going to be another $400 million.”
Carfagna said he supports the restoration of local government funds, but fears those days are now gone.
“I do think we need to be giving money back to our local governments to support the capital projects,” he said. “Roads in particular.”
On the issue of Medicaid expansion, Carfagna said he supports it as long as the state continues to receive funding from the federal government. He said the state is currently receiving over 90 percent funding from the federal government.
Carfagna said he opposes Issue 1. He said if it goes into the Constitution, there will be no way to “tweak” it in any way without adding another amendment to the Constitution.
Kathleen Tate (D) said she is not a politician.
“I’m an advocate,” she said. “I refuse to be a politician, because politicians tend to have a bad name.”
Tate outlined her background as being computer customer and technical support, working with advocacy groups to get laws passed in California to improve bicycling on roads, set up a professional job seekers network, and create neighbors helping neighbors to remove drug houses.
“I’m running at the age of 73 because I’m concerned about people trying to take away preexisting conditions from health care,” she said.
Tate said she is upset with the idea of privatizing Social Security, even though it’s not a state issue. She said she is also concerned about women’s rights.
On the issue of abortion, Tate said she believes the “decision should be between a woman and her doctor.
“Politics has nothing to do with it,” she said. “Religion should have nothing to do with it.”
On the issue of school funding, Tate said that the state took away tax dollars by cutting back, and by the time they do an increase, it doesn’t take into account the inflation rate.
“The value of the money is less than if they just left the money there,” she said. “They then voted for all kinds of things to have the money come in. The worst one is the lottery. We were told that it would go to the schools, in addition to what was already there. Has it happened? No.”
Tate said that in the first years of the lottery, “40 percent of the money” went to the schools. She said by 2013, it had dropped to “less than 30 percent.”
Tate is an advocate for Issue 1 because she is “sick and tired of waiting” on the state legislator to do something about the problem. She said the people with the addiction already face penalties.
“There 587 things as far as rights, that all of us have, that these felons cannot do,” she said. “As far as misdemeanors, there 250. There is that stick out there over their heads.”
Delaware County Auditor
George Kaitsa (R) said he is proud and honored to serve as county auditor for the last 10 years. He said the auditor’s office is very complex, requiring a knowledge in government accounting, calculating tax rate, tax levy, tax increment financing and community reinvestment areas. He said he supervises 41 employees, five individual departments, and an annual budget of $7.2 million. His primary stewardship is taxpayer dollars. His office has also received the Certificate of Excellence in Financial Reporting for the past 25 years and recently received the State Auditor’s Award with Destination for the 2017 audit.
“That ensures that your tax dollars are being spent properly,” he said. “Delaware County is one of only two counties in Ohio that maintain a AAA rating from Standard and Poor’s and Moody’s.”
Kaitsa said within the auditor’s office, the first issue that will need to be addressed in 2019 is the growth of the county and meeting services. He said another concern is the erosion in the property tax base that is tied to legislation.
“As a lot of properties become tax exempt, the effective tax rate is paid by the other property owners,” he said. “Particularly some exemptions that are being talked about for residential development.”
Indu Rajan (D) said she holds a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering and a MBA in finance. She said her previous employment was with large banking firms, City Bank, GE Capital and Advance Data Systems in customer service. She supports education funding and women’s rights.
“I think I can bring a lot of value into the public sector like Six Sigma, which makes the processes more efficient and also results in cost savings,” she said. “Learning new processes, that’s a challenge that I’ve been dealing with in all my previous jobs. I would like to be more accessible to the people. I would like to make the complaint system in the Delaware auditor’s office easier.”
Rajan said she would like to use online chat to help people solve their tax problems, instead of taking a day off work to go to the auditor’s office.
For the upcoming year, if she is elected, Rajan said her main concern is fraud. “I have personally found cases of fraud.” She said she is also concern about cybersecurity, “because of a lot of hacking going around.”
“My husband is a cybersecurity expert at Chase, so it is a conversation that we have every day about how it affects the common man,” she said. “I would emphasize good cybersecurity for the county records.”
Delaware County Commissioner
Aileen Wagner (D) said she has never run for a political office but has been getting more involved meeting people and getting to know them.
“I’ve been getting out into the community, talking to people about policy and how we can solve problems together. It’s been a delight,” she said.
Wagner said she has her own small business and was a former social studies teacher. She said she is running for commissioner because she thinks one party leadership over decades of time leads to people not being heard.
“I think it’s time those folks had a voice at the table,” she said.
Wagner said one of the big things she would do differently as a commissioner is vote to support funding for DATABus, the public transportation system in Delaware County.
“The county commissioners have not voted in favor of additional funding when they have requested it,” she said. “I think it’s a service that the people who suffer from physical limits and age need. Something in addition that can alleviate some of the congestion on our roads and environment.”
Wagner said she would like to address affordable housing in the county.
“Far too many people who have lived in Delaware County for years or even generations are being priced out their apartments and homes,” she said. “I think we need to look into solutions into that.”
Barb Lewis (R) said she has a unique qualification. She is a graduate of Harlem Grade School, which no longer exists.
“They tore it down,” she said. “Many memories.”
Lewis said she has been a commissioner for four years, and it is a position that requires many different hats because it is broad in scope. She said the commissioners have instituted master plans that are vital for policy and funding for future services and projects in the county.
Lewis said she is proud of and very involved in the national Stepping Up program that provides the proper healing and treatment for low-level offenders who suffer from mental illness so that jail does not become a revolving door for them. She said that Delaware County is a pilot county in Ohio for the program. She is a board member of United Way and has been involved with the women’s shelter, Turning Point.
“We have a full-time mental health person assigned to the jail to help those who suffer from mental illness challenges,” she said. ‘I’m very happy to be involved with this.”
Lewis said she believes the county needs to contract with all the individual fire and emergency medical services in the county.
“I would spend just a little extra money and then move the (Delaware County EMS) just north where more people are moving,” she said. “I would contract with the various townships that have cross trained fire and EMS so the townships would be the sole provider.”
Ohio 12th Congressional District
Troy Balderson (R) delegated Jenna Knepper, campaign manager, to be his spokesman at the event due to another commitment.
Balderson currently represents Ohio’s 12th Congressional District. He is a former state representative and senator who grew up in Zanesville on the family farm. He worked with Gov. John Kasich to balance the state budget and create jobs.
Knepper said Balderson has a record of bipartisanship by working with a Democratic legislator to get kids into internships and connect to jobs. She said one of the first calls he made was to Rep. Joyce Beatty (D) about working together.
Knepper said in terms of Issue 1, Balderson is opposed to it.
Danny O’Connor (D) serves as the Franklin County Recorder. He is an attorney, and said he grew up in a small town in western Ohio. He went to school across the street from a corn or bean field, depending on the crop rotation schedule.
“It’s those values that I think will serve me well in Washington, D.C. for folks,” he said.
O’Connor said he wants to represent the hard-working people of the district that are doing it right because no one is fighting for them. He said there needs to be a infrastructure bill, and he wants to save Medicaid expansion. He said Medicaid is the backbone in fighting against the heron epidemic.
“We don’t want to go back to where we were,” he said. “I worry if we don’t right the ship in D.C. and fight for access to health care and have some sanitary and pragmatism willing to work across the aisle, we’re going to go further down the road of not getting things done.”
O”Connor said he is opposed to Issue 1.
“I don’t think a Constitutional amendment is the right way to deal with that,” he said. “My hope is that our legislator can address this.”
Contact D. Anthony Botkin at 740-413-0902. Follow him on Twitter @dabotkin.