LOGAN — Candidates for the Ohio Senate and House of Representatives spoke and took questions from panelists during Candidates Night on Sept. 27 in which more than 100 people were in attendance at Chieftain Elementary. The event was sponsored by the Logan-Hocking County Chamber of Commerce.
Panelists who asked questions of the candidates included Valery Junge representing the Logan-Hocking chamber of commerce, Kathryn Inboden representing Logan High School, Gretchen Gregory from the Logan Daily News and Scott Blazer from 98.3 SAM FM.
Running for State Senate in the 20th district is incumbent Troy Balderson (R) of Zanesville and Teresa Scarmack of Logan (D).
Gregory asked Balderson about burdensome regulations after he said small business owners have informed him that they are hurting.
“At one time Ohio was the highest cost to do workers’ compensation,” he replied. “We are working on it and continue to work on it. We’re working to try to offer to privatize part of the workers’ compensation system. We’re one of the last states in this country that don’t offer a privatization side to the workers’ compensation system. The workers’ compensation system is very burdensome.”
Blazer followed up Gregory’s question by asking Balderson what other regulations — minus what was in Senate Bill 5 — that he would recommend to the governor.
“Workers’ compensation is written into the [Ohio] Constitution,” Balderson said. “The only way that you can eliminate that out of the state system is to rewrite the constitution. That’s why we’re doing this current system of some of it being private and some of it being public. It will be much faster and much more valuable, and it’s coming a long way. The workers’ compensation system is getting better but it’s going to take time.”
Blazer asked Scarmack about what she would do with the private work force who aren’t teachers or work for the government and how she can help them find jobs.
“I think it all begins with education,” she said. “Education is our vehicle that moves us forward into our future. If we provide a variety of different types of education, maybe college is not the way for everybody to go, one size does not fit all. We need lots of different types of options for people beyond high school. What I would advocate for is a variety of different types of career programs that would allow people to decide what they want to do and go with their plan. Right now we have an awful lot of college graduates, and I’m not saying that everyone shouldn’t have the opportunity to go to college, but I know there are some children that aren’t suited for it. Maybe they want to work with their hands or be a carpenter or go to technical school.”
Gregory asked Scarmack about the dependency issues in Hocking County and what she would do to fix the situation.
“I know we have a problem,” Scarmack said. “Where I teach at the five and six-year-old level I think that we have families that aren’t intact. We have children that are not with either their mother or their father. They are with a foster home or maybe their grandparents. I have a student this year who has three brothers, and all four of them have just been recently put into the care of their grandmother. We’re looking at this picture as a whole — children, families, parents, and the community as well. We’ve got to come up with some programs where we can create or get more information out about it for other people so they can hedge this off before it becomes an issue in their family. It’s a huge problem and we see it in the elementary school with parents.”
Junge asked Balderson about his work with Jobs Ohio, a private, nonprofit corporation led by Gov. John Kasich and a board of directors and designed to lead Ohio’s job-creation efforts.
“Jobs Ohio is working tremendously,” he said. “It’s the number one thing that we have to focus on. It’s much easier to take care of the business people we have here. It’s cheaper to take care of the people and businesses that we have here. Jobs Ohio is looking into other things than tax abatements. Ohio has changed the way that it’s done business. It’s hard, but change is always hard. Our employment is a point below the national average.”
State representative race (78th District)
In the race for state representative of the 78th district, Ron Hood (R) of Ashville is campaigning against Jeremy A. VanMeter (D) of Sugar Grove. Hood did not attend Candidates Night, but VanMeter was in attendance.
Junge asked VanMeter, 24, about his lack of experience and how he can overcome it, should he be elected.
“I understand that I’m a young person,” he replied. “I’m only 24-years-old, but I’ve had a heck of a life experience. I was in college at Muskingum University. Two years into college the state did away with some grants that I was getting. I had to get a job as a forklift operator and I did what I had to do. I fought, I scrimped, I saved, and I got back into school. I had mentors in my life that told me, ‘You’ve got something going on for you. You’re going to go somewhere and you’re going to be somebody.’ I served on a school board for five years. I’ve had to make difficult decisions that will impact your kids lives and that to me is valuable experience.”
Gregory asked VanMeter what new ideas or strategies he has to bring jobs into the area.
“My mother and father own their own business,” he said. “In high school, nobody taught them you need to go to this, you need to follow the articles of incorporation, you need to go to this county office and get your permit here, you need to go to this office at the state and get this permit there. We need to educate folks on how to open up their own business. There are a lot of people that I’ve talked to that have got great ideas. They’ve got small basket weaving companies, they own log cabins and they want to market that to the rest of the region. We need to give those people the education, the tools and the know how to get started and grow their own business. I think we can do a lot here in Hocking County to open up some of these empty warehouses.”