Section: News

Candidates for 68th District for Ohio House sound off

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by Bill Gardner and Gabrielle Healy

Although the 2016 presidential election has been characterized by inflammatory rhetoric from both major political parties, last Tuesday’s State Representative debate at the Knox Memorial Theater in Mount Vernon remained civil. Three candidates are running for a seat in the 68th House District, which includes all of Knox County and part of Delaware County. It is currently represented by Republican Margaret Ann Ruhl, who is not seeking reelection. 

John Russell, the Democratic candidate, walked into the theater while his opponents, Republican Rick Carfagna and Independent Douglas Crowl (a write-in candidate), shuffled through their notes at their podiums. Approximately 90 audience members, including a group of Kenyon students holding up “John Russell for Ohio” yard signs, took their seats, and moderators from the Mount Vernon News kicked off the first Knox County State Representative debate of the 2016 election cycle.

After the debate, we interviewed two of the candidates who are officially running to highlight their views on some key issues:

On the issues

Rick Carfagna (government relations manager for Time Warner Cable):

Presidential election:

“Donald Trump has said some troubling things … there are equally many, if not many more, things that trouble me about Hillary Clinton … One thing that’s abundantly clear: I will not be voting for Hillary Clinton.”

On jobs in Knox County:

“We want to create an economic climate where, if companies are looking to relocate from overseas or out of state, that they’re going to take a look at Ohio, and hopefully take a look at Knox County.”

On Ohio’s opioid epidemic:

“From a judicial standpoint, we need to make sure we are incarcerating those who are creating the drug problems, and not their victims … We need to make sure that vivitrol — that’s a drug that combats cravings and aids withdrawal — is both accessible and affordable.”

John Russell (Farmer and owner/operator of small business):

Presidential election

“My biggest hope is to reach Trump voters — and alt-voters, for that matter — at their doorstep, and try to bridge the gap… There are a lot of people that haven’t been reached out to in a while … I’m meeting people where they are, and being myself … To be a Democrat is to believe in ordinary people.”

On jobs in Knox County:

“Long story short: How do we get Knox County’s economy going? We put money into their wallets … we focus on infrastructure, we put pressure on wages.”

On Ohio’s opioid epidemic:

“There’s not enough access to treatment facilities … The prison has the largest budget in the state — and a large portion of their inmates are addicts — and that budget could be put to more effective use if it goes toward treating those inmates. We don’t want them to come back to the prison.”

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