EATON — To help prepare voters for the upcoming election, the Preble County Farm Bureau hosted a Town Hall for Ohio House District 43 candidates Amy Cox (D) and Rodney Creech (R) on Thursday, Oct. 15, to allow constituents to hear from the candidates about what they can do for the district.
Ohio House District 43 encompasses all of Preble County and parts of Montgomery County including Dayton, Brookville, Clayton, Trotwood and Vandalia.
Longtime educator Harold Niehaus moderated the event.
After opening statements by each candidate, Niehaus took the candidates through a number of questions concerning relevant issues around Ohio House District 43.
Candidates on how they will support education funding in public schools:
Cox: “Clearly the way that we fund our schools is unconstitutional. Add into it the ungodly cost of standardized tests, and how that creates a lot of stress among families and communities, and then we take those test scores, which only measure the stress that a kid is under, or what kind of day they had when they took the test, and we print in the paper. What does that tell everyone else? Those schools are no good, let’s not move there. What happens to your property value when that happens? It goes down. And then what happens to the funding? That goes down. It’s a downward spiral and it looks like a setup to me to defund public education, one of the best things this country has ever had. I propose going back to sin tax. I will tell you as a teacher; drug abuse, alcohol, and others are a big reason why kids suffer today in classrooms. Why not take the tax from that and give it back to the kid?. Also, income tax is a fairer way to tax for education on higher incomes. We are taxed out. We need our public schools as a working citizens. I will not come after your dollars, and I will certainly not come after agriculture tax dollars to fund our public schools.”
Creech: “I think our educational system needs reevaluated. We are spending way too much money on testing and evaluating teachers when what we should be doing is teaching our kids. There’s so much more to schools. As far as funding, how about we reduce the mandates? Or, if the state’s just going to mandate something, how about they pay for it? Because they constantly force our schools to do things and expect us to find the dollars. So, how about reducing mandates and let us deal locally? One of the things in education, I feel like – why is the state determining what we do locally? Why is our school board and superintendents not making those decisions? I can tell you what, I think we can manage our local schools a heck of a lot better than Columbus.”
Candidates on how they will promote jobs in District 43:
Cox: “Driving through the 43rd, especially Preble County, there are Help Wanted signs all over. So I don’t necessarily think we have a shortage of jobs. We have a shortage of maybe jobs that are high tech. Sometimes when we do have high tech jobs, we don’t necessarily have the people around here that want to move to a place like Preble County in order to work that job. We need to invest in our infrastructure and recreation, healthcare facilities, our downtown. We need to be able to pull in jobs that pay a dignified wage so that we can support that bustling downtown, right? But it comes down to attracting those businesses. We have to invest in ourselves so that people will want to move here to work here.”
Creech: “Again, I don’t believe it’s the government’s job to tell the communities what they need. I think we need to listen and find out what the communities need and want. Instead of bringing in or looking for things that the community doesn’t need, you know, having business incubators? How about we develop the people that we have here? How about we develop our workforce for the jobs that we have now? There’s over 200 jobs in Preble County that can’t be filled, and some of these are good jobs. We’re really looking at more workforce. But again, I’m a free market guy. We have seven worldwide companies here in Preble County. Is there a way that we can bring their suppliers closer to them? We have Wright [Patterson] down the road. Those are the kind of things, but again, it’s a free market deal and the government needs to stay out of it.”
Candidates on how they will serve industrial and agricultural businesses:
Cox: “As a high school teacher, I know that a lot of the interest kids develop start in high school. Since I’ve been out of school, shop class has become less available, depending on the school that you go to. Those sorts of skills have all but disappeared. If you don’t believe me, try to find a contractor to work on your house. I think that starting with the students, introducing them to the jobs that we have available in this area, in addition to investing in our healthcare access, our infrastructure, and as well as recreational opportunities for this area. If a business is going to come here, they want to see that their citizens have access to these opportunities and services. No one wants to work somewhere where you need to travel an hour to go to the doctor. So, I believe working on our infrastructure and starting with kids in school to introduce them to what we have to offer them in this area.”
Creech: “I’ve been fortunate to be able to do that over the last several years. And, you know, working with our Economic Development Partnership, we do service all businesses, and I can tell you that, technically, that’s what I do. I’m not manufacturing, but we do run a small business along with the farm, and so understanding the needs those – you know, one of the things that I want to tell people is [that] people say, ‘Hey, when you’re a state rep, what are you going to do for such and such?’ Ruling from the top down is not something I believe. I think what we’ve got to do is find out what the needs are from those people, and I think that’s what we’ve been doing in Preble County now. The partnership’s been involved now for 10 years. I’ve been a part of the Economic Development Partnership for nine years. And so you know, working with businesses, seeing what their needs are from a workforce development standpoint. What do they need as far as, you know, the revolving loan funds…whatever their needs are, I think the main thing is to be accessible to those businesses and listen. That’s the big thing. We’re not coming in to tell them what they need. We need to listen and see what their needs are.”
Candidates on how past experience influenced decision to run for office:
Cox: “Growing up here in Preble County, we had – at least in the 80s and 90s – you had sports or you had 4-H, and I did both of those, actually. But, my FFA membership, I talked a little bit about that earlier, and also as an adult, my union membership. As an employee, I have worked in lots of different industries. Starting at the age of 16, I worked at Heartland of Eaton. I took care of some of your loved ones when I was 16-17 years old. I worked in the service industry, so I’ve served you food, drinks, or whatever. I worked in retail for a period of time, and I actually enjoyed retail quite a bit. I have been a teacher, and I’ve also worked in [agriculture] science as a lab manager at a mushroom farm. I am working class just like everyone else in the room. I know what it’s like to be working class. I know what it’s like to have to get up every day whether you’re tired, whether you’re feeling okay, and go to work every day. I’ve always worked for someone else. I’ve never worked for myself. So, I’ve always been in service to either my employee, or my employer, or to the company, or to the community as a teacher.”
Creech: “As far as employment, being a local business owner and being a local official that works for the people. Like I said, I think the main thing is the thing that I have a passion for is serving people, and I think Preble County has seen that in action, or I hope you have. I’ve tried to do a good job of keeping everyone updated. You know, I’ve had people come up and say, ‘Hey, I love your Facebook page.’ And I always tell them, I do that because I want you to know I’m working for you. There’s so many things that goes on behind the scenes in local government, the township, trustees, your village, your village councils, your county commissioners, your elected officials. We have amazing like officials in this county. We are so blessed to have so many good conservative leaders in this county. Going back to my government experience, and when I say government experience, I don’t even like calling it that. It’s public service. We all think when we talk about government or politics, we all get a bad taste in our mouth. But it just comes down to serving people, and it’s something that I’ve grown a passion for. I love to do it, and like I said, I just want to grow the circle. I started out with a small township, went to the county and 42,000, and we want to go to a district with over 120,000. I want to affect more people.”
After the question and answer portion of the town hall, candidates were asked to provide a closing statement to their constituents.
Cox: “I feel that I’m ready to represent. I’ve had experience in public service my whole life. Also, with the other side of our district that doesn’t look like Preble County, of course. But, I feel like I have those skills to reach across the aisle to help move us forward. We have never done anything in this country that we didn’t come together to accomplish, and I would appreciate your vote in November, and I thank you again for this opportunity.”
Creech: “We’re in some great times as far as – well, especially when we get back out of COVID, but with our economy. We have so many good things that were happening in the state of Ohio prior to March. I am so excited to get the opportunity to go to Columbus and serve all of you. Again, don’t listen to what you’re hearing out here in the locality. Look at records. Talk to people. There’s so many things that are going around right now during this election cycle, and focus on what’s been done, and what’s being done, because I’m telling you, I’ve poured my heart and soul into this place. I love Preble County, I love the people inside of it, and I want to treat the entire district like I have Preble County. We’ve done some amazing things, and again, looking back with my past business experience and government experience, I think it’s a great mixture, and I think I have a lot to offer everyone. I have so much to learn. I have never, in my life, had such a big mountain in front of me, and I love to learn, I’ve enjoyed it, and I look forward to the opportunity to serve again.”
Candidates were also asked questions about representation for District 43 in Columbus, energy generation, agriculture tourism and handling of COVID-19 by various counties in Ohio. Full video of the town hall recorded by The Register-Herald can be viewed on Facebook at https://rb.gy/yyiqmu.
Reach Braden Moles at 937-683-4056 or on Twitter @BradenMoles