MOUNT VERNON — Three candidates for the Ohio House of Representatives 68th District seat shared their views, and a few differences, during a debate Thursday at Mount Vernon Nazarene University’s Foster Hall.
The debate was sponsored by the Mount Vernon News with media partners WNZR, WQIO and Knox Pages.com. Candidates Republican Rick Carfagna, Democrat Kathleen Tate and Libertarian Patrick Glasgow fielded questions from the moderators.
Ohio Issue 1
The first question of the night showed how divided the three candidates were. Both Tate and Glasgow were in favor of the Constitutional amendment that changes the severity of drug possession charges, while Carfagna was strongly against it.
Tate and Glasgow both felt the issue helped non-violent offenders, giving them a chance at rehabilitation instead of incarceration.
“It’s a great first step on the road to ending the drug crisis,” Glasgow said. “By promoting lower crimes and lower sentencing for non-violent offenders, we have more chances of rehabilitation and bringing people back into the workforce.”
“With the opioid crisis, we can’t go at it piece meal. We’ve got to set up committees, and we need to have everyone involved, and take a look at the whole opioid crisis,” Tate said.
Carfagna’s biggest issue and why he was against it was the fact it was an amendment to the Ohio Constitution and that makes it tougher to redo if there are changes that need to be made. He also didn’t like the amount of drugs needed to classify the offense as a felony.
“It would make it a misdemeanor to have up to 19 grams of fentanyl. That’s enough to kill 10,000 people. That’s not the way to do this,” Carfagna said. That’s not the way to do this,” Carfagna said. “I’m all aboard the sentencings, but this is not the way to do this.”
Tate said the biggest issue with education and its funding is the fact we are not preparing our children to be ready to go out into the real world. She said children need to be taught how to use credit, banks and the other things that affect us daily in our adult lives.
“We need to train them how to live life and become responsible citizens; how to survive in this world,” she said. “The funding needs to be equitable. We need to fund improvements in the infrastructure.”
Carfagna, the incumbent for the House seat, said we are currently focusing too much time on state testing and that the state needs to fund each school fairly.
“About 180 of the 612 schools are capped and can get no more money from the state. Each school needs to get as much money as we are giving charter or non-public schools,” he said.
Glasgow said the problem lies in where the power is located. He feels that school boards and communities should wield the power to decide how much money they spend on education.
“We need to give control back to the local people, so they can fund things locally. It’s where the parents and the students are — they can collaborate and make their decisions based on what’s best for the kids,” Glasgow said.
Carfagna, who worked for a telecommunications business prior to becoming an elected official, said he has worked hard to make Internet available for everyone in the state. He crafted a bill recently trying to improve access for everyone.
“The kids in Southeast Ohio have to go to McDonald’s to use the wi-fi. This is a legitimate problem and we need to get it fixed so they can do their homework in their own homes,” Carfagna said.
While believing Internet should be available to everyone, Tate was concerned with net neutrality and hacking.
“We need to have a secure internet,” she said.
Glasgow feels this is an issue that the state government should not be involved with.
“We have no business telling businesses who and where they should provide a service to. The best I can do as a government official is to lower regulations and lower taxes to encourage the growth,” Glasgow said.
Agriculture and rural development
Carfagna sits on the Agriculture and Rural Development committee at the statehouse, something the last three representatives have done. It’s an important place to be, considering the diversity of the 68th district, he believes.
“In our district, I navigate two different worlds. Here, we’ve got to know how to market job ready sites and how to promote places like the Siemens campus,” Carfagna said. “I try to make regular connections and sell us and what we have to offer.”
Glasgow said that committee is important for the district, as farmland is getting swallowed up by development.
“Agriculture is my life, but unfortunately, more profit is raised by building houses instead of planting corn,” Glasgow said. “But, at the end of the day, we really don’t have control over who goes where and who buys what land.”
Tate said the agriculture business faces a lot of problems, including having enough workers to do the jobs needed.
“Croton Egg Farm is begging for workers. We need to come up with ideas and help the farmers,” she said.
The debate was sponsored by the Mount Vernon News, with media partners KnoxPages.com, WNZR and WMVO/WQIO. The evening was hosted by Mount Vernon Nazarene University.