Genoa Township Trustee Rick Carfagna is on the November 8 ballot as the Republican candidate for the Ohio House of Representatives 68th District seat being vacated by Margaret Ann Ruhl due to term limits.
Since 2002, Carfagna has worked for Time Warner Cable as Government Relations Manager. In addition to overseeing legislative and regulatory issues at the local, state, and federal levels, he serves as the company’s primary liaison to over 400 municipalities and townships throughout Central and Southeast Ohio, and also provides support to over 400 additional local governments in Northwest Ohio.
Carfagna, in his seventh year as a Genoa Trustee, said he has always been drawn to the civic process. He said he loves being a Genoa Township Trustee because it’s refreshing and nonpartisan; that there’s no Liberal or Conservative way to fix potholes on streets or add amenities to parks.
“A couple of years ago with redistricting, Margaret Ann became our representative and I saw this opportunity coming,” Carfagna said. “I spoke with my wife and we discussed it with the family and decided it was right to pursue this.”
Carfagna said the three largest issues facing the State of Ohio and the 68th Ohio House District are economic development, combating the drug epidemic, and fair funding in education.
“Delaware County and Knox County are very different, but there are cross over issues important to both, especially economic development and creating the climate conducive to job growth,” Carfagna said. “Everybody says that, but if a family’s breadwinner doesn’t know how to make ends meet, everything else becomes secondary.”
Carfagna said in Delaware County, the economic development challenge is helping local officials manage the amount of economic growth that’s already occurring. He said it’s important to make certain that the appropriate resources are in place to accommodate the necessary expansion of roads and infrastructure.
“In Knox County, it’s about being a champion for their development projects in Columbus, and working to facilitate discussions between local government and business leaders and regional development agencies such as Columbus 2020, Jobs Ohio, and MORPC,” Carfagna said. “There are already job-ready sites throughout Knox County and many good stories for our local communities to share. I’m prepared to help Knox County position itself as a destination for companies that are considering relocation from either out of state or elsewhere in Ohio.”
Carfagna said the recent escalation of opiate addictions in Ohio brings that issue to the top of any responsible legislator’s agenda. He said a three-pronged approach is needed to successfully combat the problem – law enforcement, judicial, and treatment.
“We need to equip law enforcement with the tools necessary to root out and disrupt trafficking activity,” Carfagna said. “The Polaris corridor is a regional hotbed for drug trafficking — it’s right off the highway, there are many parking lots for easy and hidden transactions, and it’s an affluent area where the activity can remain subtle and unnoticed.”
Carfagna said legislators and others should also continue to work towards equipping law enforcement and all first-responders with Naloxone to reverse overdoses.
“From a judicial standpoint, let’s make sure we’re incarcerating those creating drug problems and not their victims,” Carfagna said. “Local judges need the ability to establish drug courts in a timely manner, and I’d like to work towards making Vivitrol, which combats cravings and aids withdrawal, a more accessible and affordable as a drug court option.”
Carfagna said the most important aspect, however, is ensure communities have adequate, accessible, and affordable recovery programs in place so that addicts can get the treatment they need while continuing to work.
“I’ve been following from a distance the efforts to hopefully convert Rian Hall in Mount Vernon into a regional facility for treatment and recovery housing,” Carfagna said. “Second Chances of Central Ohio is working to bring this project to fruition and as a state representative, I would love to work with them to overcome any barriers at the state level.”
Carfagna said using Rian Hall as a regional treatment and recovery facility would be an opportunity to take a state asset that’s sitting dormant and empty, create over 200 jobs and tax revenues for the area, and provide the substance abuse recovery services that the community desperately needs.
“My understanding is that the facility would yield approximately 225 beds that are not currently available, with the first priority going to those in Knox County,” Carfagna said.
Carfagna said every child in Ohio deserves access to whatever educational model best resonates with them and inspires learning, whether it’s through public schools, private schools, parochial schools, charter schools, online schooling, or homeschooling.
“Every two years, our school districts must go through a chaotic process of not knowing how much state aid they will receive,” Carfagna said. “With state parity aid factored into school budgets, the difference between flat funding and a seven percent increase is monumental. This unpredictability makes it next to impossible for school districts to game-plan long-term finances and to enact local levies that will remain solvent.”
Carfagna said providing more stability to the state aid calculation would provide school districts, and ultimately taxpayers, with more certainty.
“More measures should be taken to avoid punishing well performing but fast-growing school districts by restricting their levels of aid,” Carfagna said. “I would like to further explore the merits of establishing a funding floor that matches the level of aid that chartered non-public schools currently receive to offset administrative costs.”
Carfagna said he fully supports school choice and charter schools, but alternate ways to fund both charter schools and traditional public schools need to be developed without pitting them against each other.
“Shifting charter school funding to a completely direct state-funding mechanism may not be realistic,” Carfagna said. “But I would like Ohio to possibly migrate to a hybrid system where the charter school deduction is limited to the per-pupil amount a district gets, with the difference made up via a more direct state budget funding mechanism.”
Carfagna said he would be available to answer any questions and speak on any issue between now and the November 8 election.
For additional information and to contact Rick Carfagna go to rickcarfagna.com and click Contact Rick.
Reporter Lenny C. Lepola can be reached at 614-266-6093.