Three Democrats are vying March 6 for the right to face Republican Mike Duffey in the fall to represent the 21st Ohio House District.
Three Democrats are vying for a spot on the fall ballot to face off against Republican Mike Duffey to represent the 21st Ohio House District.
David Donofrio, Donna O'Connor and David Robinson will be on the March 6 Democratic ballot for the 21st Ohio House District which includes portions of Dublin, Hilliard, Worthington and northwest Columbus.
Donofrio, a Dublin resident and Scioto High School graduate, said he's running to serve the community.
"I am running to be a true full-time representative and voice for the people in a time where the influence of big money, special interests and party politics tend to dominate. Further, I am the only candidate running to serve you who has real Statehouse experience, having worked in varied administrative capacities for 14 state representatives," he said. "This has given me valuable firsthand knowledge regarding the day-to-day responsibilities of a representative, including drafting legislation, attending committee and sessions, constituent services and more."
Donofrio graduated from Wittenberg University in 2009 with political science degree and boasts experience serving the community as an Ohio Legislative Service Commission Fellowship and Deputy Clerk for the Franklin County Municipal Courts.
O'Connor, a Coffman High School special education teacher, said she's concerned economic and educational options she had as a child may disappear for her two sons.
"Being actively involved in educational and political issues for the past decade, I have sought to inspire change for students, educators and the educational community, asking the tough questions and seeking answers of 'how can we do this better for tomorrow?' As a teacher and being on the frontlines of educating tomorrow's workers I realized I needed to take the next step to ensure that lawmakers continue to provide the workers of tomorrow, the workers of today and all Ohio citizens laws and policies that are fair, reasonable and beneficial to all," she said.
O'Connor resides in Dublin with her husband and fellow Dublin teacher Roger Rabold and sons Colin, 5, and Reid, 3.
Robinson, a Worthington resident and senior vice president of Marcy Enterprises, Inc., said he's running to put people before politics.
"As a businessman, I know that you don't get things done by demeaning and dividing people. You succeed by working together to bring out the best in people, by creating win-win situations. We can keep and create good, sustainable jobs - not by divisive politics, but by working together to build on our strengths," he said. "As your representative, I'll work to restore civility to the Statehouse, and recommit us to excellent public schools. I'll stand up for working and middle class families, and focus on what matters most to the people of Ohio."
Robinson is a central Ohio native and resides in Worthington with his wife and two daughters. He previously ran for the 21st Ohio House District in 2010 and was a 2008 congressional candidate for Ohio's 12th district.
While working at the Statehouse through a fellowship, Donofrio said he saw two bills that could improve Ohio's economy through ending tax breaks and subsidies for companies that send jobs overseas and lowering the threshold got job creation in the Ohio Job Creation Tax Credit to let smaller companies get the incentives.
"I will reintroduce these bills on day one, should I be privileged to serve as your representative. Further, the promise of green energy has already proven under the previous administration to make Ohio a leader, as the energy industry here now has more jobs from the wind industry than coal … and the city of Toledo is the second-largest solar manufacturer in the country," he said.
Ohio is facing difficulties, O'Connor said, and must shift its economy to meet the needs of the 21st century.
"We urgently need investments, not cuts: in protecting what makes our communities safe, in children and the public schools that serve them, in supporting the middle class and in jobs for now and for future generations," she said. "I plan on supporting this type of legislation as a representative."
If elected, Robinson said he'll focus on jobs that utilize the state's natural strengths.
"I'll focus on 'real job creation,' by which I mean jobs that arise from and are based on our state's inherent and historical strengths - applied technology, manufacturing and assembly, advanced materials science, logistics, biotechnology, and agricultural sciences to name a few - and are outgrowths of a spirit of innovation, enabled by policies that foster a natural cooperation between private and public sectors, between industry and our educational, (research and development) institutions," he said.
Ohio's form of school funding is constantly in flux after being ruled unconstitutional. O'Connor said she'd like to see the state pay more rather than depending on local property taxes to fund schools.
"I believe that Governor Ted Strickland's evidence based model that was based on student needs, research based and phased in over a period of time had Ohio moving in the right direction regarding funding for our public education system," she said. "I believe that the current funding formula, which isn't really a formula, is wrong, unfair and unsustainable. Our public education cannot continue to rely so heavily on property taxes."
According to Robinson, school funding should be restored.
"No institution of ours is more essential to the perpetuation and survival of a healthy democratic society, and that message must be repeated again and again in the public realm," he said. "Full transparency and disclosure should be required of charter schools, vouchers should not be expanded, and our funding model should be broad-based, and recognize the particular needs and requirements of particular students in each district."
Donofrio supports an evidence-based model of school funding and increasing state aid to districts from 39 percent to 60 percent.
"Districts like Dublin which want to invest more in their districts are still able to do so, but the majority of funding will arrive through the evidence-based model in a 'fair and equitable' manner. These reforms were so innovative that Ohio was one of 10 states awarded federal Race to the Top funds in 2010," he said. "Unfortunately, Gov. Kasich rolled back these reforms in 2011, and there has been no replacement solution. As your representative, I will begin from the blueprint described on day 1."
If elected Robinson has other focuses in addition to job creation and school funding. Changes are needed in political and government systems, he said. "Enact large cuts in the maximum allowable political contribution to state level campaigns, for PACs and individuals, currently five (times) the amount allowed for federal campaigns; … review all aspects of the health and pension benefits of elected officials and make sure they are in line with those of other public sector employees, or better yet, the private sector; … permit recall elections, with a high threshold to avoid frivolous action, of state level elected officials, from the Governor on down; … conduct hearings in to the relationship between lobbyists and lobbying firms and our elected officials, and to do all that is legally possible to stop the revolving door and corrupting influence of special interest money in distorting our public policy."
Donofrio said if elected he would make sure fracking is properly regulated.
"I will not be naive enough to claim that this process can be stopped - anyone claiming they could is not telling you the truth. What I do want is to ensure that it is transparent, responsible, and properly regulated," he said. "First, as an outdoor enthusiast, I hold the line at our state and national parks, and would not permit drilling in our protected lands. Second, I want full transparency for the public regarding what chemicals are injected into the propant, which is the largely sand/water mixture used to create fractures in the shale, from which oil and natural gas is extracted. … Finally, landowners in the Appalachian part of the state where the majority of this activity is occurring deserve standards in their contracts, which is not always current practice."
For O'Connor, her other areas of concentration would include helping the middle class.
"In addition to education and the economy, other issues that I would focus on would be protecting women's rights, worker's rights and putting the middle class and middle-income earners first," she said.