I’m running for my third consecutive term as the Ohio State Representative for District 58. With your help, I will continue to represent you in the Ohio House, and make your voice known to my fellow legislators.

My experience as an effective legislator, director/administrator at YSU, community leader, and board member of respected institutions and agencies, combined with my involvement in politics and public policy make me uniquely qualified to serve the people of the 58th District.

The League of Women Voters’ questionnaire for election candidates presents excellent questions about issues we as Ohioans and Americans are facing in 2020. Here are their questions and my responses:

1. What actions should the State of Ohio take to minimize the economic and health damage caused by the Covid 19 pandemic? What legislation, if any, should be considered to ensure future elections are not disrupted by a pandemic?

The state should maintain the mask mandate, which has reduced the spread of COVID-19, until the pandemic abates. We should also fully fund an aggressive testing and contact tracing program to identify hotspots, quarantine the infected, and protect vulnerable populations. We should also provide increased support for small businesses and the unemployed by utilizing Ohio’s rainy-day fund and by rolling back tax cuts for the wealthy.

To protect our elections, we must implement a Universal Vote by Mail system modeled on Colorado’s which has been cited as among the most safe and secure in the nation. I began working to bring this proven method for conducting elections to Ohio in 2019 and introduced UVBM legislation, HB 560, in 2020. While it gained little traction this year, I intend to reintroduce it and use the problems associated with this year’s elections to highlight the need to change elections in Ohio.

2. Do you think systemic racism exists in Ohio? If yes, what is the role of State Government
in reducing systemic racism? If no, what needs to be done to change the perception that systemic racism exists?

Yes. It is evident in Republican budget priorities that cut support for cities to provide tax cuts for the wealthy and chronically underfund public schools, universities, housing, and public transit. It also manifests itself in racist policies like HB 70, the state takeover of public schools, and the prevalence of predatory lending, including exploitative land installment contracts, in our urban areas.

State government can address racism by increasing funding for local governments so city leaders have the resources they need to keep our families safe and improve policing, ensuring that every kid in Ohio has the opportunity to attend a world-class public school, and by making public universities and advanced training more affordable. We must erase HB 70 and reign in predatory lenders who make huge profits by exploiting the poor and disadvantaged. And, finally, we must focus the state’s business recruitment and job creation efforts on cities like Youngstown.

3. What will you do to ensure that the approved redistricting reforms are implemented on schedule?

Work diligently with my colleagues in the General Assembly, the LWV, and other interested parties to abide by equitable General Assembly and Congressional districts that strengthen rather than undermine our democracy. If the majority party attempts to once again draw ludicrous, gerrymandered districts I will not hesitate to publicly criticize their efforts to subvert the process and ask my constituents, community leaders, and all Ohioans to join me in demanding that the Republicans expeditiously abide by the spirit and the letter of the overwhelmingly popular redistricting and reapportionment reforms. I will not allow the GOP to go behind closed doors and create districts that are biased and drawn solely to secure an unassailable majority.

4. Some types of non-profit organizations can influence politics via “dark money.” They can receive unlimited donations from corporations, unions, or individuals, that are spent to influence elections. “Dark” refers to the fact that these organizations are not required to disclose the names of their donors, leaving voters “in the dark” about who is making campaign donations through these organizations. This practice recently contributed to a corruption scheme within the Ohio House of Representatives. What impact do you think “dark money” has on our political system? Would you support legislation that would enable voters to learn the identity of donors to these groups?

As the Householder/First Energy scandal clearly demonstrates, dark money has had a corrosive influence on our political system and legislative process dating back to the “Coingate” fiasco, the ECOT debacle, and the resignation of then-speaker Cliff Rosenberger who is still under investigation by the FBI. The impact of this corruption has siphoned more than a billion dollars away from public schools, saddled Ohioans with the billion-dollar First Energy bailout, crippled Ohio’s green and renewable energy economy, perverted our budget and tax priorities, allowed predatory lending to flourish, and hurt Ohio families in many other ways.

I believe we need campaign finance reform legislation based on Montana’s DISCLOSE Act which requires any entity, including 501(c)4s, that makes expenditures in support of or opposition to ballot issues or candidates, to disclose their donors. I also support a wide range of other reforms including weekly reporting and enhanced lobbyist disclosures.

In my run for reelection, I have been endorsed by the following organizations:

  • Mahoning/Trumbull AFL-CIO
  • Ohio Education Association OEA
  • Planned Parenthood
  • Youngstown Warren Black Caucus

The 2020 general election is Tuesday, November 3, 2020. You must be registered to vote by October 4 to be able to vote in the general election.

For more information, visit the Ohio Secretary of State website.