Three candidates are on the ballot for the 68th District State Representative race to replace incumbent Republican Margaret Ann Ruhl, who will vacate her seat due to term limits.
Interestingly, the three candidates live in Delaware County, while Ruhl lives in Mount Vernon in Knox County. The 68th District consists of Knox County and the southeastern portion of Delaware County.
Republican Rick Carfagna has worked for Time Warner Cable as Government Relations Manager since 2002. In his seventh year as a Genoa Trustee, Cafagna said he loves the job because it’s refreshing and nonpartisan.
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 is positioned to be a vibrant area for years to come,” Carfagna said. “I offer the right balance between private and public approach. I was raised in my family’s grocery store; and have strong relationships in business, government, and the local community.”
He said a three-pronged approach is needed to successfully combat the problem of opiate addiction – law enforcement, judicial, and treatment.
“Every two years, our school districts must go through a chaotic process of not knowing how much state aid they will receive,” Carfagna said. “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.”
Douglas Crowl is a write-in candidate. The roadway superintendent of Kingston Township, Crowl calls himself a constitutional conservative who believes the best government is the one that governs the least. He said he would provide “true representation” for the district.
Crowl mentioned two problem areas — the rapid growth in the southern portion of Delaware County and the dormancy of Knox County.
He said the only time he would spend in Columbus would be to vote. “I plan on making it very easy for constituents to contact me or meet with me,” Crowl said.
Crowl said that none of the candidates have had any prior experience as a state representative.
“This election presents the opportunity to break the never-ending cycle of politics-as-usual,” Crowl said. “We are the majority, and it’s time we exercised that fact. Of the almost 85,000 registered voters in the district, more than half are non-party.”
John Russell is the Democratic candidate. The Galena-area resident is originally from Columbiana County and has a stump-grinding business and raises produce at his 21-acre farm on Gorsuch Road. Russell earned an agricultural degree from Cornell University.
“I’m running for the state legislature because I’m concerned about financial security matters’” Russell said. “My whole job and income hinges on people having money in their pockets. We need better chances for people to make a living.”
Russell said education, the opiate addiction crisis, and improving economic opportunities for people living and working in his district are his top priorities.
“The biggest problem with education in Ohio is there is too much reliance on property tax as the largest part of school district’s budgets,” Russell said. However, he will vote for the Big Walnut Local School District 8.3-mil, $133.9 million Bond Issue that will also be on the Nov. 8 ballot. He also stressed getting young people into skilled trades.
Russell said the current escalation in opiate addictions is a personal issue for him, and emphasized treatment and rehabilitation.
“The conservatives representing this district have had their turn for 50 years,” Russell said. “This choice is going to be between new ideas and old ideas, between a campaign built on working hard and people talking to other people, versus a campaign that’s funded by insiders.”
Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0906 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.