Candidates meet in Ostrander

By D. Anthony Botkin - [email protected]

The Ostrander Civic Association saw a large turnout Tuesday night during a candidates night at the Ostrander/Scioto Township Community Center, 3737 Ostrander Road, Ostrander.

The evening included candidates running for Ohio Senate District 19, Ohio House of Representatives District 67 and 68, Delaware County commissioner and Delaware County auditor.

Delaware County commissioner candidates

Commissioner Barb Lewis (R)

Lewis said the commissioners work together as team with all the elected officials focused on what is best for the county.

“I’m told that our meetings aren’t listened to that much because they are boring,” she said. “When the department heads come before us and they ask for an appropriation, chances are we’ll ask if we were doing this before, how long has this been in effect or is this an increase over last year? We are very fiscally conservative. We are really good watch dogs as we should be, because this is your money.”

Lewis said in her time as a county commissioner, she has been able to reach out and meet a “heck of a lot people” and forge relationships she feels has helped the county. She mentioned that the county has a AAA rating from both Moody’s and Standard and Poor’s.

“The reason we got that is because of good management by the commissioners and excellent management by our auditor,” she said. “I’m proud of our outstanding leadership.”

Lewis said the one thing she is most proud of is the Stepping Up program, a national program, that the county has adopted promoting mental health care for jailed low level offenders with mental health challenges. She said the commissioners made sure there is full-time mental health professional employed to counsel and help those prisoners every step along the way.

“This is an example of teamwork with the prosecutor, the Sheriff’s Office, corrections and Jobs and Family Services, ” she said.

Lewis also mentioned the multi-district litigation against the manufacturers and distributors of opioid medications the commissioners approved entering into in February. She then asked those in attendance to vote against Issue 1.

Aileen Wagner (D)

Wagner said it’s the first time she has run for a political office. She is a small business owner writing and editing textbooks, and a former educator with two children.

“I am running because I think we need more diversity of voices in Delaware County,” she said. “Barb talks a lot about how everybody gets along in the county. Having a different opinion and representing people who are not heard is not the same thing as disagreeing and having a bad environment, politically. It’s one of the things that makes our government stronger. When you have one group that is setting the policies for decades at a time, things start to work in favor of their friends more than the people we’re here to represent.”

Wagner said she wants to put people first, making sure there is a great future for all. She said she has yet to meet anyone that knows what a commissioner does nor has she met a person who doesn’t see room for improvement at the county level.

“I for one am very interested in working on our infrastructure, being sure we’re not building a sewer treatment plant out in Concord Township that sits doing nothing for years,” she said. “Then leaving the taxpayers to foot the bill for infrastructure that doesn’t work.”

Wagner said she is also interested in improving the county roads, especially along the southern boarder because “We all know how that is.” She also said Delaware is one of the largest counties without a homeless shelter.

“It doesn’t mean that’s not a problem here,” she said. “Delaware County, like many areas in Ohio, is facing very rapid rising housing prices. We’re pricing the people who live in the northern part of the county out of their apartments and homes as we grow. We have to do a better job of balancing that and meeting the needs of people who are struggling in this county.”

Wagner said she supports Issue 1 because it is a way to help people who are struggling with drug addiction for a vast variety of reasons.

“Drug addiction is more often than not an illness sort of issue,” she said. “It’s a way to help them without criminalizing and getting them further into the criminal process.”

Wagner said she sees Issue 1 doing good things for communities.

State Representative for District 67

Cory Hoffman (D)

Hoffman said he is a tax attorney, served in the U.S. Navy, and worked as a state attorney for the Ohio Division of Securities, prosecuting people selling fraudulent investments. He lives in Delaware with his wife, whose is expecting, and their daughter.

Hoffman said his opponent is state Sen. Kris Jordan, District 19, “Who I thought I would meet for the first time.”

“I’d like to meet him,” he said. “He lives just right down the street. I don’t know, maybe he doesn’t care enough? He hasn’t shown up to anything. He thinks he is going to just waltz into the job because people know his last name. I don’t know.”

Jordan has termed out in the Ohio Senate and is now looking to be elected as state representative for District 67.

“Musical chairs,” Hoffman said. “I’d like to talk to him about these things, but I’ve never met him.”

Hoffman talked about school funding in Ohio, which he said is a very popular issue these days. He said, leaning on his experience in tax law, the best type of tax is a very broad base tax that is low rate.

“In 2014, the Kasich administration and the Republicans created this financial institution tax,” he said. ‘This tax would allow for very low tax rates, statewide, that raise substantial revenues. Substantially, more than current tax bases. Then allocate statewide monies to the schools based on the cost to teach a child in each district.”

Hoffman said he supports the concept of charter schools.

“The issue with charter schools is, like the person who currently sits in the seat I’m running for, Andrew Brenner, there is an idea that support for charter schools is a Trojan Horse to undercut support for public schools,” he said. “I support public schools, I support the idea of charter schools if done properly, and we have a tax base like I’m talking about where we can fund everything.”

Hoffman said that personally, he is against Issue 1.

“I don’t want it to be a Constitutional amendment. I don’t think it’s the proper thing to be passed by the legislator,” he said. “Why do people go to the ballot and put something like that, that maybe shouldn’t be in the Constitution? Because legislator doesn’t get anything done. They call someone like Kris Jordan, who doesn’t answer the phone or do anything.”

State Senate District 19

Gary Cox (G)

Cox said his platform encompasses four main issues: “get money out of politics, figure out what to do with health care, create a living wage for everybody, and have sustainable agriculture.”

Cox, an attorney who has worked for the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, said he has helped prosecute corporate polluters, helped form the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund, and was once an organic vegetable farmer.

The 60-year-old said looking back from 1928 of the Great Depression to the recent Great Recession, it’s been 80 years. In that time, it’s been 40 years of Republican rule and 40 years of Democratic rule.

“The two-party system is just failing us,” he said. “We are where we are because of the two-party system. We’ve experimented long enough, it’s failed.”

Cox said money needs to be pulled out of politics.

“The only way you’re going to get money out of politics is to amend the Constitution,” he said.

Cox said he at one time worked with Lewis and her husband at a law firm in Columbus, but disagrees with her on Issue 1.

“She was hyping her Step Up program in Delaware County, but against Issue 1,” he said. “If Issue 1 passes, then she doesn’t need a Step Up program. Issue 1 basically is if you possess or use something, you’re committing a crime and you can’t be sentenced for it? How can you commit a crime against yourself?”

Cox said the part of criminal reform he wants to emphasize is to decriminalize possession and use.

“Let’s focus on the rapes, the robberies and the murders,” he said.

Louise Valentine (D)

Valentine said her other opponent besides Cox is “Andrew Brenner, who doesn’t like to make a lot of appearances.”

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, was employed with L-Brands and Victoria Secret, but quit to run for office.

Valentine said she is getting into politics because she didn’t like what was happening in the 2016 election year.

“I want to do this for my children. I want to make sure education is a huge priority for me at the statehouse,” she said. “We have been neglecting our public education system for far too long.”

Valentine said we need to start making our public education a priority by putting it first.

“I want to make sure our kids have the best possible future in this state and not have to leave this state to have good job opportunities,” she said. “We have to make sure we have good paying jobs here so people can make a life here in Ohio.”

Valentine said she is not in favor of charter schools because it takes away from the public schools.

Valentine is against Issue 1, because she doesn’t believe a Constitutional amendment is the way to address the issue.

“When the legislator is in grid lock all the time and nothing gets done, this is what is going to happen,” she said. “People want progress. If they’re not seeing it, they are going to put it on the ballot.”

Valentine said it needs to be a legislative solution.

Delaware County Auditor

Indu Rajan (D)

Rajan said she and her family live in Dublin, and she holds a bachelor’s degree in computer science and a MBA in finance. Rajan added she greatly supports the public schools, and she worked for banks in customer service, managing large budgets and implemented Sigma Six protocols.

“I decided I wanted to run because I wanted to provide options to the people of Delaware County,” she said. “Since 1975, a Democrat has not been elected. I thought we should have some fresh voices and fresh ideas in the auditor’s office.”

Rajan said she wants to improve accuracy and streamline the office of the auditor.

Delaware County Auditor George Kaitsa (R)

Kaitsa has been serving as the Delaware County Auditor for the past 10 years. He started with addressing Issue 1.

“One of the critical issues with this is that it’s a Constitutional amendment,” he said. “That’s a significant problem because that means if there were to be any change, people would need to go back through exactly the same process of adopting another amendment.”

Kaitsa said he holds a B.A. from Kenyon College, a MBA from The Ohio State University, and has been married for 25 years. He said the Delaware County Auditor’s Office is very complex, because the office oversees 21,000 dog licenses per year to dispersing $531 million in property tax revenues to the schools, the townships, the local jurisdictions and other agencies. He said the office tests gas pumps and commercial scales, and maintains the Data Center for the county and the county’s network.

“It covers a wide spectrum of responsibility,” he said. “To reflect our work in the Data Center, Delaware County has been fortunate enough to receive the Digital Survive Award, a national award for using technology in county government.”

Kaitsa said his office has received the award the past three years. He also said that his office just received the State Auditor’s Award with Destination for the 2017 audit. His office has also received the Certificate of Excellence in Financial Reporting for the past 25 years.

By D. Anthony Botkin

[email protected]

Contact D. Anthony Botkin at 740-413-0902. Follow him on Twitter @dabotkin.

Contact D. Anthony Botkin at 740-413-0902. Follow him on Twitter @dabotkin.