By Megan Alley
Clermont County residents heard from local candidates running for the state house during a forum on April 10 at the Milford City Building.
Candidates on the ballot for the May 8 primary in the 66th district are Democrats Brian Flick and Jeff Richards, and incumbent Republican Doug Green.
Flick and Richards participated in the forum, Green did not.
Candidates for the 65th district are Republicans John Becker – the incumbent – and Erin Neace, and Democrat Patricia Lawrence.
Only Lawrence participated in the forum.
The moderated candidate forums were conducted by the League of Women Voters Clermont County and sponsored by the Milford Miami Township Chamber of Commerce.
The audience was invited to submit questions during each forum.
State Representative 66th District
Flick and Richards opened by introducing themselves and then stated why they are running for office.
Richards is “just a concerned citizen.” He added that he’s a lifelong resident of southwestern Ohio who’s been happily married for 39 years and has two sons; his oldest son died of a drug overdose four years ago.
Richards has a degree in economics from the University of Cincinnati and worked in technical sales for more than 30 years.
“I’ve stood on the sidelines as I have watched while Ohio’s republican controlled legislature has enacted economic policies that have enriched the few elite and hurt the middle class and forgotten the poor,” he said, adding. “Trickle-down economics is failed economic theory that does not work.”
Richards said that every child deserves a quality education, regardless of where they live.
“Schools and prisons have become profit centers for corporations; charter schools and private prisons should be publicly run institutions,” he said.
Flick is a native Ohioan who now lives in Amelia.
“I’m a lawyer, I’m a husband, I’m a son, and I’m also a very concerned citizen, which is why I am here,” he said, adding that up until a year ago, he was a republican. “I do not shy away from that, I’m tired of it; I’ve found a party that has brought me home, welcomed me, and meets a lot of the ideals that have brought me here.”
He added, “It’s time for a fresh start for district 66 … when I’m elected to the Ohio house, I will not listen to special interests; the only people I’m beholden to are the voters.”
Both candidates were asked about the changes they would make to the office if they were elected.
Flick said that officials need to focus on the issues that are important to the district, and also the state of Ohio.
“Where’s the money going to local governments to the districts? This is a top down system that’s not working,” he said. “We need money for local services.”
Richards said he’s against right-to-work.
“I think it’s a right to be poor … it is a big issue,” he added. “The unions are a last refuge for the middle class … I see what the legislature is doing right now; they are putting the money into the top one percent, plus helping their own cronies.”
Both candidates were also asked how they would support economic development in the district.
Flick said he would look for any opportunity to flow money into the district to grow existing business, and look for any opportunity to incentivize businesses to move into the district.
“It is no secret that we’re a very rural district, and there’s not a lot of major industry here,” he said. “I think we can get to a place where we can get some industry here.”
State Representative 65th District
Lawrence opened by introducing herself and then stated why she’s running for office.
“I’m a mom, an educator, an organizer, an advocate and a leader,” she said. “I’m a moderate and commonsense candidate.”
Lawrence was born in Dayton and attended the University of Cincinnati, where she met her husband. She and her family have lived in Miami Township since 2005.
“I think Ohio has some work to do, and I think we have some places where we can do better, and if you send me to the state house, I will do that,” she said, adding that she supports providing resources for education, and that everyone deserves access to healthcare and fair wages.
“Communities are stronger when everyone has enough money in their pockets; people want to earn a living wage so that they can take care of their families,” Lawrence said.
In the first question, Lawrence was asked what changes she would bring to the legislature.
“With one party rule, we have some corruption that’s going on, and I think that’s absolutely wrong,” she said. “We need honesty and transparency with records … I think with one party rule, we don’t always have a good conversation about what’s going on, and different views; I think we’re better when we have more views and people who challenge each other, because we push each other to be better.”
Lawrence is not in favor of for-profit schools, while she is in favor of common sense gun safety laws.
She also said that the state legislature needs to be doing a better job of closing the income gap.
“I see tax breaks for the wealthy, and I think we were promised jobs from that, and I think we need to start paying up,” she added.
Lawrence was also asked how she would foster economic development in the district.
“There’s so much potential … I think there’s a tremendous opportunity for tourism along the river,” she said. “The bike trail is a huge resource. It’s what most towns aspire to, and it brings people in already.”
She added, “There’s so many things that we could market and we could do, and each town has a unique feel to it, and they’re linked in a great way.”