The Sunbury Big Walnut Area Chamber of Commerce hosted a candidate breakfast Friday morning at the North Star Golf Club in Sunbury.
All the candidates were held to strict time limits. Candidates of contested races were allowed two minutes to speak, while candidates of uncontested races were allowed only one minute to speak.
All three candidates for Ohio’s 12th Congressional District, Rep. Troy Balderson (R), Danny O’ Connor (D) and Joe Manchik (G), were in attendance at the morning breakfast to present their individual views to the business owners and residents of Sunbury.
Balderson told the gathering that it has been his honor to go to Washington, D.C. to serve the people of the district to get some work done on their behalf.
“People often ask me, ‘Why are you doing this Troy, why are you running for Congress?’” he said. “I’m doing this because our country is in trouble. I’m doing this because I have a work ethic to get things done. I’m doing this because I have an environment of working with people. I can get things done. I tackled tough things here in the state of Ohio.”
Balderson said politics wasn’t going to be his vocation until a state representative, who was term-limited and whose truck Balderson was working on at the time, asked him about running for the district seat.
“I said, ‘Are you crazy?’” he said. “I’ve never been in politics in my entire life.”
Balderson said he took the challenge, and “I’ve been blessed.”
Balderson added he wakes up every morning and thanks God for the opportunity to do what he is doing.
“I love what I do,” he said.
Balderson said he has been a part of making the tough decisions in the state of Ohio. He said he was on the House Finance Committee when the state had the largest deficit.
“We balanced that budget,” he said. “We eliminated deficits, we cut taxes, and we did all of this working together.”
Balderson said he has worked with Gov. John Kasich to bring jobs back to Ohio.
“People know that Ohio is back open for business again,” he said. “I look forward to doing that in federal Congress.”
O’Connor said that there are “so many important issues right now.”
“One thing that is always a green light to me as I crisscross the seven counties of this district are the issues families worry about,” he said. “Like paying your mortgage, health care access if you have a preexisting condition, and access to earned benefits like social security and Medicare at the end of your career.”
O’Connor said those are the “worries that transcend party lines” because both the Democrats and Republicans are worried about the same things.
He said the thing that the district needs is for someone to go to Washington, D.C. and “put pragmatism ahead of partisanship.”
“I think there are things that we can work together on,” he said. “We see every single day a heroin crisis that has become a public health problem that places Ohio number one in the country.”
O’Connor said that he believes people can “tap into the better angels of our collective nature” and work together on the problems. He said he believes that there is an opportunity to not just invest in the wealthiest and permanent tax cuts for corporations but in infrastructure improvements in central Ohio.
“Most of our bridges are eligible for repair,” he said. “Most of our roads are ready for repair.”
O’ Connor said if $100 billion was invested into schools, “we can finally have some air conditioning in them.” He said the next time there is a heat wave, parents won’t get calls from the schools telling them their children are getting out early, forcing them to give up hours of work to take care of their kids.
“We need more leadership in this country,” he said. “If we don’t change our government, if we don’t make the folks in Washington, D.C. accountable to every single one of us, we will not have the opportunity that the previous generation had.”
Manchik said this is his third time running for the Ohio 12th Congressional District, and after the event, he would be glad to speak with everyone one-on-one. He said the difference between the three parties — Green, Democratic and Republican — is the Green Party does not take corporate money.
“The Democratic and Republican parties have many millions of dollars in corporate cash to work with,” he said. “They use a lot of that money to specifically silence third party candidates all across the country.”
Manchik said the Green Party is the party for the people, while the Republicans and Democrats are the parties of “the corporations running our out of control government.”
“That’s why I’m running for Congress,” he said. “I want to give the American people a real voice in Washington. That is something that the Democratic and Republican parties have been failing to do.”
Manchik said that his opponents were invited to a televised debate Saturday evening on WBNS Channel 10 at 8 p.m. on “Face The State,” but he was excluded to participate in the debate.
“I’m specifically excluded to participate in this televised debate, because the Democratic and Republican parties have received millions of dollars from corporations that they use to buy complete blackouts about my campaign,” he said.
Manchik did not offer any other views nor additional information about himself.
Other candidates that accepted and attended the event included Barb Lewis (R) and Aileen Wagner (D) for Delaware County commissioner; George Kaitsa (R) and Indu Rajan (D) for Delaware County auditor; Rick Carfagna (R) and Kathleen Taft (D) for Ohio House District 68; Jim Schuck for Delaware County Common Court of Common Pleas; Andrew Brenner (R), Louise Valentine (D) and Gary Cox (D) for Ohio Senate District 19; Travis Irvine (L) for Governor of Ohio.
Contact D. Anthony Botkin at 740-413-0902. Follow him on Twitter @dabotkin.