Hall challenging Carney for 22nd Ohio House seat

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Incumbent John Patrick Carney (D-Columbus) will be challenged in the Nov. 6 election by Andy Hall (R-Columbus) for the 22nd Ohio House District seat.

The district's new boundaries, redrawn last year, include portions of Northwest Columbus and the Clintonville, Northland, Upper Arlington and Worthington communities.

Carney, 36, is serving out his second term as representative for the district. He is a graduate of Bay High School in Bay Village, near Cleveland, and received his undergraduate and law degrees from Ohio State University.

Carney is an attorney for Porter, Wright, Morris and Arthur of Columbus. He is married and has two children.

Hall, 45, said he has lived his entire life in central Ohio. He graduated from Otterbein College and Capital University Law School.

Hall is the owner of and lead attorney for Andrew C. Hall Law Offices. He is married and has three children.

ThisWeek asked both candidates a series of questions about:

* The budget deficit closed by Gov. John Kasich and the state legislature.

* Ohio's Third-Grade Reading Guarantee.

* Issue 2, which will appear on the Nov. 6 ballot.

* The federal Affordable Care Act championed by President Barack Obama.

* Early voting in Ohio.

* Ohio's approach to economic development.

* Hydraulic fracturing to mine natural gas and petroleum.

Hall said he agreed with Kasich's decision to make cuts in funding to school districts and local governments to alleviate the state's $8 billion deficit without raising taxes. Carney said he did not agree with the cuts.

"I think the governor is on the right path," Hall said. "In tough times, all of us have to do more with less. Schools and local government should be expected to do no less. Unfortunately, the previous governor and legislature increased spending for schools and local government by draining the rainy-day fund. This not only gave schools and local government a false sense of security, but it also significantly endangered Ohio's future by using funds needed for times of disaster or catastrophe."

Carney countered, "Ohio needs to invest in its economic future by supporting K-12 schools, higher education and local government infrastructure."

Neither candidate agreed with Ohio's new Third-Grade Reading Guarantee that would hold back third-grade children not reading up to grade level.

"I am a strong supporter of K-12 education, and I agree with the goal of having every Ohio student read by third grade," Carney said. "The Third-Grade Reading Guarantee puts an extra burden on our local school districts without providing adequate resources for them to comply, and I opposed the bill in the General Assembly."

Hall said, "I do not agree with the manner in which the Third-Grade Reading Guarantee is implemented. Not every child learns the same way or at the same pace. If a child excels in science or math, but simply has difficulty reading, it is counterproductive to hold that child back in school. A better solution is to have measurable methods of providing remedial reading while letting the child succeed in the other classes (in which) he/she does well. I do not believe the state should be funding this program at all. Money is better spent on remedial reading programs."

The candidates voiced opposing stances on Issue 2, the Nov. 6 ballot measure that would take away the ability for politicians to draw legislative and congressional districts and give the map-drawing responsibility to commission of appointed residents.

"I plan to vote 'yes' on Issue 2 and encourage others to do the same," Carney said. "Gerrymandering, or the drawing of legislative districts to benefit one party over another, is a negative force in American politics. It is a cause of much of the divisiveness that plagues our system of government. Issue 2 would finally take the drawing of legislative districts out of the hands of partisan politicians and leave it up to an independent citizens' commission."

On the other hand, Hall said, "Issue 2 is a terrible idea, and I encourage every Ohio voter to vote against it. The current system does have flaws, to be sure, but at least there is some accountability: If voters do not like the way districts are drawn, they can vote out the elected officials who approved the plan. Issue 2 creates a commission that is unaccountable to voters, and there is no mechanism to remove someone from the commission, even if he or she commits a crime. A better solution would be a process whereby officials from the minority party are appointed to the board to provide balance. Anyone who wants to submit a plan should be permitted to do so."

Both agreed something has to be done about health-insurance issues and that Ohio should find its own solution in place of the federal Affordable Care Act.

"A health-insurance exchange is an online marketplace where consumers can find health plans and choose one," Carney said. "A 'one-size-fits-all' exchange set up by the federal government is not favored by Ohio's consumer groups, insurance agents, hospitals, insurers or medical professionals. We must get past the partisan bickering associated with this issue and set up an exchange for ourselves."

Hall said, "First, I want to state that I think this law is a bad idea for Ohio and America. That said, if an exchange does have to be established, I believe we should strive to set it up ourselves, rather than relying on the federal government. Some have said that we cannot afford to set up our own exchange. I say we cannot afford not to. From my experience, the federal government, rarely, if ever, does things better than does local government. We do not want a bureaucrat sitting in an office in Washington, D.C., making decisions about what is best for us here in Ohio. If the federal government is in charge, it is foreseeable that the choices of providers would be extremely limited. That is not what we want in Ohio."

Carney said he supports early voting, which began Oct. 2 in Ohio, but Hall questioned the practice.

"I strongly support early voting," Carney said. "Making it easier to vote -- not more difficult -- best serves our democracy."

Hall said, "Ohio is one of the only states in the region that allows early voting. Voters can vote in person or cast an absentee ballot by mail starting Oct. 2. I do not think it is unreasonable to implement uniform hours for the voting. Franklin County voters should not be entitled to more opportunity to vote than voters in rural counties. The Obama administration filed a lawsuit on equal protection grounds because we have traditionally allowed those serving in the military additional time. If everyone is supposed to be treated equally, then allowing those in large urban areas more time to vote violates that concept."

Both candidates said the state needs to do more to encourage economic development

"Without question, we must take steps to be competitive with other states," Carney said. "In some cases, there is broad consensus around many simple things we can do. That is why I introduced House Bill 48 (129 General Assembly) with bipartisan support, which ensured that Ohio business laws are comparably flexible relative to other states. That bill was signed into law this year."

Hall said, "It is also important that Ohio leverage its colleges and universities to maintain a strong, well-trained labor force. That is why I supported a 2009-10 state budget that strictly limited tuition increases to 3.5 percent and held Ohio State University tuition flat. I have continued to fight against more-recent tuition increases."

Both said hydraulic fracturing, often called "fracking," to harvest natural gas and petroleum from Ohio's shale rock is potentially a boon for the state, but they acknowledged there are environmental concerns associated with the mining technique.

"Hydraulic fracturing has great potential, but it must be done in a way that protects our communities and ensures environmental protection and a safe water supply," Carney said.

Hall said, "I support fracking. We should do all we can to be self-sufficient, and obtaining these resources is a great way to do that. That said, we must ensure that the process for extracting the materials is safe, and does not impose an unreasonable impact on the environment. There must be an adequate number of inspectors to be sure workers are safe. I do not think it is unreasonable to ask the developers of the sites to pay for the infrastructure needed to get the equipment to the site."

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