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Democratic governor candidates debate jobs, taxes, education issues

Published: Sunday, December 03, 2017 @ 1:41 PM
Updated: Monday, December 04, 2017 @ 8:37 PM

Ohio Democratic governor candidates debate Monday night
Staff Writer
Ohio Democratic governor candidates debate Monday night(Staff Writer)

Four Democrats running for governor in 2018 debated issues such as jobs, taxes, education and roads on Monday but looming off stage was a major development: Richard Cordray scheduled his gubernatorial campaign announcement for Tuesday in his hometown of Grove City.

Cordray, who stepped down last month as director of the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, did not participate in the Cleveland City Club debate.

Former state representative Connie Pillich of Cincinnati, one of the five declared Democratic candidates for governor, complained that Cordray “abandoned” the consumer watchdog agency and turned it over to Republican Donald Trump. “Gosh, he was our one voice of hope in D.C. One voice that was standing up for consumers,” she said.

RELATED: Who’s in? A look at who is running for governor

Pillich, Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley, state Sen. Joe Schiavoni of Boardman and former U.S. Rep. Betty Sutton of Akron focused most of their criticism on Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and his running mate Jon Husted and other Republicans who have held a firm grip on state government for decades. They found fault with GOP-approved tax breaks and funding cuts for local governments and schools.

“Mike DeWine and Jon Husted have been running this state for too long and it’s all wrong and I am person who is tested and vetted and tried,” Sutton said.

DeWine and Husted represent tired leadership, Whaley said. “I think what the state is looking for is a new kind of leadership, a leadership that comes from the ground, that is about executive experience and really knows what’s going on in their communities,” she said. “Those guys, they’d rather take the word of a lobbyist that listen to someone on the street.”

The candidates agreed that the opiate addiction crisis requires a comprehensive approach, public transit deserves more funding and local governments need more state funds.

The event on Monday was the third forum held by the Ohio Democratic Party to promote Democrats vying to lead the ticket in 2018. Ohio Supreme Court Justice Bill O’Neill, who announce he is running for governor and recently stated on his Facebook page that he has slept with 50 women over the years, did not participate in the event.

RELATED: What issues do you want Ohio’s next governor to tackle?

Cordray, by far has the most statewide experience, running for statewide office five times and winning twice. And his ties to former President Obama and U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, who helped establish the consumer bureau, could help him raise some $20 million needed to run a credible gubernatorial campaign.

Cordray won elections to serve as state treasurer and attorney general. He was a five-time Jeopardy! champion, an intern for John Glenn, a law clerk for Judge Robert Bork and U.S. Supreme Court Justices Byron White and Anthony Kennedy, an Ohio State University law school professor, a state representative and Ohio Solicitor General.

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What is State Issue 1 on the May ballot?

Published: Monday, April 23, 2018 @ 4:35 PM
Updated: Monday, April 23, 2018 @ 4:35 PM

What is State Issue 1?

On May 8, Ohio voters will decide on major changes to how Ohio draws district lines for members of Congress.

VOTERS GUIDE: What’s on your ballot May 8?

The issue, put on the ballot by the General Assembly by a bi-partisan vote of 83-10 in the House and a unanimous vote in the Senate, is supposed to create a fairer process.

After every census, Ohio lawmakers change the state’s congressional lines based on population shifts. Currently Ohio has 16 members of Congress. However, despite being a swing state in presidential elections, the state’s congressional delegation is lopsided toward Republicans. Currently 12 of the seats are held by Republicans and four by Democrats.

The kicker is that most of the districts are also not considered competitive either way.

State Issue 1 is somewhat confusing. The proposal sets up a three-step process:

* The General Assembly may approve a 10-year map if it three-fifths majority in both the House and Senate agree, along with at least half of the members of the minority and majority parties. It would require the governor’s signature.

* If the Legislature fails to adopt a map, the seven-member Ohio Redistricting Commission would be take over. It may pass a 10-year map if it has at least four votes, including two from the minority party.

* If the commission fails to act, the responsibility returns to the Legislature, which can pass a 10-year map with three-fifths majority vote, including one-third of the minority party members. It would require the governor’s signature.

If the three steps don’t result in a 10-year map, the majority party controlling the Legislature may adopt a four-year map, providing it follows guardrails to protect against unduly favoring a political party or incumbents and against splitting up counties into multiple congressional districts.

RELATED: Guns, minimum wage top issues in Democratic governor primary

The proposed constitutional amendment won support from Fair Districts = Fair Elections, a coalition of some 30 groups seeking redistricting reform.

What’s the current system?

Currently, the political party that controls the General Assembly is in charge of drawing the congressional district maps every 10 years.

Related: Republican fight for governor turns personal

Minority party approval is not required. The result is maps with odd-shaped districts that are drawn to maximize the majority-party’s chances of winning the most congressional districts.


We reached out to the candidates in the local area who are on the May 8 ballot. Learn more about them and the issues in our interactive voters guide at

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South Dayton suburban state House race one to watch on Election Day

Published: Tuesday, April 17, 2018 @ 6:00 AM
Updated: Monday, April 23, 2018 @ 6:53 PM

Ohio House candidates Niraj Antani, Sarah Clark, Marcus Rech and Zach Dickerson.
Ohio House candidates Niraj Antani, Sarah Clark, Marcus Rech and Zach Dickerson.

If you can measure the popularity of a job by the number of people seeking it, the race for the Ohio House 42 district in southern Montgomery County is the region’s winner.

Five people — three Republicans and two Democrats — are on the May 8 ballot for a seat in a district that has long been a Republican stronghold. About 62 percent of the district is Republican, according to the Ohio Manufacturer’s Association’s 2016 Election Guide.

VOTERS GUIDE: Compare the Democratic candidates on the issues

VOTERS GUIDE: Compare the Republican candidates on the issues

Here is a look at the candidates:


Two candidates, Zach Dickerson and Autumn J. Kern, both of Miamisburg, are running for the Democratic nomination. Kern did not respond to any requests for comment or complete a Dayton Daily News Voter Guide.

Dickerson describes himself as a moderate Democrat who wants to focus on “kitchen table” issues such as fixing potholes, improving schools, funding first responders, battling the drug crisis and bringing good jobs and investment to the district.

Zach Dickerson of Miamisburg(Staff Writer)

He supports establishing a new microloan program for small businesses, restoring the local government fund and improving school funding so districts do not have to go on the ballot for property taxes so often. He’s not sure where he would find the money for those measures but said a review is needed to determine whether state tax cuts have been effective in stimulating the economy.

RELATED: Democratic leader says state tax cuts lead to higher local taxes

He supports the state’s expansion of Medicaid, which provides heath insurance to 685,000 Ohioans who were previously ineligible for coverage under Medicaid or the Affordable Care Act. He said that expansion is crucial not only for helping people get preventative care but also in getting treatment for drug addiction.

He said he wants to work on bipartisan legislation to help the district.

“I feel like I will be an advocate for civility,” Dickerson said. “I want a functioning government run by reasonable people. I don’t think we have that right now.”

On other issues, Dickerson said he supports Republican proposed limits on pay day loans and reducing hours for cosmetology licenses. But he said Republican efforts to cut access to safe, legal abortions are wrong-headed and sometimes do not pass constitutional muster.

He did say he would support “reasonable restrictions” such as banning late-term abortions, according to his Voter Guide answers.

Dickerson grew up hunting and said there needs to be a balance between Second Amendment rights and protecting the public. He said assault-style weapons should be banned and he supports “red-flag” legislation that would keep people from having weapons if they pose a threat to themselves or others.


Three candidates are seeking the Republican nomination: State Rep. Niraj Antani, R-Miamisburg; Miamisburg Vice Mayor Sarah M. Clark and political newcomer Marcus Rech.

Niraj Antani

Antani is seeking re-election to the seat he has held since 2014.

He said he has been a strong voice for conservative values in the Statehouse and has voted to cut taxes, for stronger abortion restrictions and for capping college tuition increases.

State Rep. Niraj Antani, R-Miamisburg(Staff Writer)

“As I’m in office longer I have more ability to deliver on legislation,” Antani said.

RELATED: Antani, anti-abortion group urge court to act against Kettering clinic

Antani wants to eliminate the state income tax and says he would oppose raising taxes. At the same time he advocates providing more support to community colleges for workforce development, increasing funding for law enforcement and restoring funding to local governments so they can fix roads and bridges instead of relying on the state to do it.



We reached out to the candidates in the local area who are on the May 8 ballot. Learn more about them and the issues in our interactive voters guide at


He also wants to have a drug dog inspecting every Fed Ex and U.S. mail piece in the state in an effort to stop the mailing of drugs. Antani said he doesn’t know what that would cost but it “would be very expensive.”

Doing without the state’s income tax revenue — which totaled $8 billion in 2017 — would be a tall order. Although he didn’t have a firm plan for reducing state revenues by that amount while still increasing funding for measures he supports, Antani said lawmakers would have to set priorities. He also advocated using $1 billion of the state’s rainy day fund for law enforcement to help fight the opioid epidemic.

Antani said he wants to reduce the number of people on Medicaid by providing work training and job coaches for able-bodied, childless adults.

Antani would eliminate the state-mandated minimum wage, which is currently governed by a constitutional amendment voters approved in 2006 that requires that it rise with inflation.

“The market should dictate wages,” Antani said.

He wants to freeze any changes in kindergarten through 12 education for five years and study best practices during the period, he said.

Antani is a strong supporter of restricting abortion rights and of loosening restrictions on guns. He said will support any anti-abortion legislation, including requiring that schools teach the controversial concept that a fetus feels pain at 18-20 weeks, something many scientists say is not true based on the neurological development of a fetus, according to

Earlier this year he advocated that 18-year-olds be allowed to carry long guns to high school, a position that was criticized by fellow Republicans as well as Democrats. He said he is no longer commenting on the subject.

RELATED: Ohio lawmaker: ‘Did a poor job of communicating’ position on students bearing firearms

Sarah M. Clark

The Miamisburg councilwoman said her opposition to Antani’s representation of the district is what put her in the race. She said she has more real world experience than he does and believes she would do a better job in the Statehouse.

Clark said she supports the Second Amendment but Antani’s idea that students could bring guns to school is wrong-headed and dangerous.

Sarah M. Clark, Miamisburg Vice Mayor(Staff Writer)

“I think it certainly highlighted his immaturity and inexperience,” Clark said, arguing that highly-trained armed security guards are a better option.

Clark wants to eliminate the Medicaid expansion, which she said costs taxpayers too much and hurts the people who are on Medicaid because she says they can’t find doctors who will take Medicaid.

RELATED: Kasich vs. lawmakers in Medicaid fight: ‘If you break it, you own it’

She said health care wouldn’t be so expensive if the state passed a health care cost transparency plan that would make pricing more competitive.

She does credit Medicaid with covering drug treatment for addiction. She said too many legislators focus on punishing addicts but she wants to instead have the state get people 18 months of treatment and imprison all drug dealers who sell opioids, methamphetamine and cocaine.

Clark said she wants to get rid of government regulations that have hurt job creation, though she couldn’t name one that she would put on the chopping block. 

She also wants to cut taxes if possible and said tax breaks have enabled Miamisburg to attract companies to the city.

RELATED: Three-term councilwoman elected new vice mayor of Miamisburg

Clark opposes “abortion in all circumstances,” according to her Voter Guide answers. She said abortion opponents should extend their “pro-life” view to making sure people are “supported and cared for” after they are born as well. She said she’d like to see churches and other community groups take over more of the job of helping people with addiction, health care and foster care.

Marcus Rech

Rech said he is running because he believes Antani is too divisive. He also said he opposes Antani’s idea of teenagers bringing guns to school.

“You can’t have 18 year olds walking around with loaded long rifles in schools,” Rech said. “It was a big blow to Second Amendment supporters. It made us look stupid.”

Rech said a better plan for school safety would be more use of metal detectors, hiring more security and training school staff as backups.

RELATED: Who is running?: 18 local state House and Senate on ballot this year

Rech wants to repeal the expansion of Medicaid health insurance and said people who lose their insurance should negotiate their own prices with doctors under the Direct Primary Care model. He supports more transparency in health care pricing as well.

“I just want people to have choices,” Rech said.

Marcus Rech of Miamisburg(Staff Writer)

He believes government subsidies for medical care are what has driven up prices.

A big theme for Rech is that Americans need to be the ones getting jobs. He said schools should upgrade the core curriculum and the state needs to give teachers more freedom. He also said there needs to be more vocational training because not everyone is cut out for college.

“I’d like to see a cheaper version of education,” Rech said. “I’d like to see it more streamlined.”

He opposes the use of special visas and green cards to hire non-Americans by universities, contractors and government.

“I think we should talk to these companies and if we need to maybe we can do some taxation to discourage it,” said Rech.

Ohio House of Representatives 42nd District

Term: 2 years

Pay: $60,584 annually

District: Moraine, West Carrollton, Miamisburg, Germantown and part of Centerville, and Washington, Miami and German townships.


More information on the candidates

Zach Dickerson

Age: 38

Address: Miamisburg

Education: Law degree from University of Denver and bachelor of fine arts from Texas State University

Employment: Market research manager at Lexis-Nexis

Political experience: None

Political party: Democrat

Autumn J. Kern

Address: Miamisburg

Political party: Democrat

Kern did not respond to requests for further information


Niraj Antani

Age: 27

Address: Miamisburg

Education: Bachelor’s degree in political science from Ohio State University

Employment: State representative

Political experience: State representative since 2014

Political party: Republican


Sarah M. Clark

Age: 35

Address: Miamisburg

Education: Bachelor’s degree in history and political science from Trevveca Nazarene University

Employment: Business manager at Midwest Dental and Miamisburg vice mayor

Political experience: Mimaisburg council member since 2010

Political party: Republican


Marcus Rech

Age: 28

Address: Miamisburg

Education: Bachelor’s degree in business management from Thomas Edison State University

Employment: R &R Painting and Flooring

Political experience: None

Political party: Republican


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Solutions from local opioid forums presented to state leaders

Published: Monday, April 23, 2018 @ 5:08 PM

Each naloxone kit distributed by Project DAWN includes a nasal spray device with two doses of 2 mg each of the overdose-reversing drug. Wider distribution of naloxone is one of the proposed solutions presented to state officials Monday at a meeting with media representatives from the organization Your Voice Ohio. KATIE WEDELL/STAFF
Katie Wedell
Each naloxone kit distributed by Project DAWN includes a nasal spray device with two doses of 2 mg each of the overdose-reversing drug. Wider distribution of naloxone is one of the proposed solutions presented to state officials Monday at a meeting with media representatives from the organization Your Voice Ohio. KATIE WEDELL/STAFF(Katie Wedell)

Proposed solutions to Ohio’s addiction crisis that grew out of a collaboration between journalists and local communities will be presented to Gov. John Kasich’s office.

Through a series of community forums, including five in southwest Ohio in February, journalists with Your Voice Ohio heard from an estimated 500 individuals who have been touched in some way by the opioid crisis. Each person had the opportunity to suggest changes they’d like to see locally and statewide to address the opioid epidemic that has killed more than 10,000 Ohioans in the past three years.

A summary of the ideas generated during those sessions was shared Monday with state leaders representing many agencies that have direct impact on pieces of the opioid crisis — including the directors of the Bureau of Worker’s Compensation, Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, representatives from the state medical and pharmacy boards and the Deputy Director of the Governor’s Cabinet Opiate Action Team.

“Our collective responsibility is to talk about what can we do to help address some of the issues that you bring forth,” said Tracy Plouck, director of OMHAS. Her organization works directly with the governor’s action team and will develop action steps based on the information gathered by Your Voice Ohio, Plouck said.

RELATED: Local residents weigh in on drug crisis

Doug Oplinger, director of Your Voice Ohio, said those living through the crisis should be involved in finding solutions. “In every community we visited there was a feeling of desperation among those struggling with recovery, and in their families a feeling of guilt or helplessness,” Oplinger said. “People were saying they’re falling through the cracks.”

One of the biggest revelations from the community forums and passed on to state leaders was the uneven availability of various solutions from county to county and even city to city.

While there is evidence that efforts like drug courts, needle exchanges, rapid response teams, comprehensive drug education in schools and coordination between jails and treatment providers have worked to improve outcomes for those with substance abuse disorders, those solutions are embraced only sporadically.

“(We) saw differences in death rates between two similar counties where one had medically assisted treatment through drug court and the other did not,” Oplinger said. “We detected tension in some communities.”

In some counties there has been an understanding of addiction as a disease, while in others, addicts are still seen as and treated as criminals, Oplinger said.

RELATED: Drug crisis in Ohio: What solutions are making a difference?

“The culture is not just local,” said Gary Mohr, the state’s corrections director. He noted numerous measures that have been suggested to keep drug addicts out of prisons and get them into treatment instead, each of which has been met with resistance from prosecutors, judges, and county commissions.

Mohr highlighted Senate Bill 66, which would allow judges more discretion in sealing drug records and diverting people to treatment.

Recovering from opioid addiction: ‘I had to get help or I was going to die’

Responding to a lack of participation in the community forums by medical professionals, State Medical Board President Robert Giacalone said that was a “shame” and that the board is actively working to educate doctors about their role preventing addiction.

“Quite honestly I’m blown away by some of the information you have,” he said of the Your Voice Ohio report.

Other leaders at the meeting recognized that there is a disconnect between what the state is doing to attack the drug epidemic and the public’s perception of what’s being done — reflected in many of the responses from the forums in which people said the government and media don’t care about them.

HOW TO GET HELP: An opioid addiction resource guide

Dr. Mark Hurst, medical director at OMHAS, called stigma the most destructive force in this crisis, resulting in treatment services that are available but aren’t getting tapped.

“There are a few things in (The Your Voice Ohio presentation) that really impacted me, and I think impacted a lot of us,” he said.

Your Voice Ohio is a collaboration of news organizations around the state, including the Dayton Daily News, Springfield News-Sun and the (Butler County) Journal-News. The group’s purpose is to bring the collective power of the organizations to foster positive change in the state.

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Gov. Kasich orders review of Ohio gun background check program

Published: Monday, April 23, 2018 @ 3:29 PM
Updated: Monday, April 23, 2018 @ 3:40 PM

            Failure by local courts and law enforcement to send timely gun background check data to the state, which forwards it to NICS, could means guns are being purchased by people who are ineligible to do so, accdording to Gov. John Kasich. GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images
Failure by local courts and law enforcement to send timely gun background check data to the state, which forwards it to NICS, could means guns are being purchased by people who are ineligible to do so, accdording to Gov. John Kasich. GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images

Ohio Gov. John Kasich signed an executive order Monday to get an update on weaknesses in the state’s gun background-check system.

Failure by local courts and law enforcement to send timely data to the state, which forwards it to National Instant Criminal Background Check System, could mean guns are being purchased by people who are ineligible to do so.

“There is just no excuse for this data not being sent and I can’t figure it out,” Kasich said.

Related: Parkland father urges Ohio leaders to pass gun restrictions

The order directs the Office of Criminal Justice Services to work with Bureau of Criminal Investigation and Ohio Supreme Court to update a 2015 study that found reporting gaps in the system. Kasich is also asking the state auditor to examine and publish a review of how well the local authorities are reporting the required information.

Related: Kasich proposes six changes to Ohio gun laws, says ‘it’s a different day’

Kasich continues to use the bully pulpit to focus attention on six gun control measures that he is backing:

* a ‘Red Flag’ law that allows family or police to get a court order to remove guns from people at risk of hurting themselves or others;

* keeping guns away from those convicted of domestic violence or subject to protection orders;

* closing reporting gaps in the NICS;

* strengthening the law against “straw man” gun purchases;

* banning ban bump stocks and armor-piercing ammunition. Bills to accomplish these goals are pending in the House and Senate.

Related: ‘Red flag’ gun control bill introduced in Ohio

“You know, these proposals are so reasonable that I don’t know what there is to object about, to tell you the truth,” Kasich said.

He stopped short of advising Ohio primary voters to vote against candidates who oppose his proposals, such as the red flag law.

“I feel very strongly about that but I’ve never kind of liked the idea of a single issue voter, to tell you the truth. I just think you have to look at a person’s entire record but the record ought to consider something like the red flag law,” he said.

He added: “I would tell you that I think anybody who doesn’t want to support common sense gun laws ought to be thought of when it comes to the ballot box, of course.”

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