A Hilliard City Councilwoman, an Upper Arlington educator and an independent candidate will vie for an open seat in the 24th Ohio House District.
Stephanie Kunze (R-Hilliard), Maureen Reedy (D-Columbus) and Thomas J. Alban (I-Hilliard) are running on the Nov. 6 ballot to replace incumbent Ted Celeste (D-Grandview), who could not seek re-election because he no longer lives in the boundaries of the redrawn 24th district.
The 24th district now includes most of Hilliard and Upper Arlington and Brown, Norwich and Prairie townships in western Franklin County. The district also stretches into sections of Clintonville and Northwest Columbus.
Kunze, 42, is a member of Hilliard City Council. She also is an elected member of the Ohio Republican Party Central Committee, representing Ward 4 in Hilliard.
A former administrative secretary at Norwich Elementary School, Kunze is a founding member of Local Level, a website that showcases Hilliard businesses, schools, nonprofit organizations, real estate and parks. The goal is to encourage people to connect with their community, she said.
Kunze and her husband of 18 years, Matt, have lived in Hilliard for 10 years and have two daughters, Hannah and Abigail.
Reedy, 54, has taught for 26 years in the Upper Arlington City Schools and currently works an elementary instructional specialist at Wickliffe Elementary School.
Reedy, who has bachelor's and master's degrees in education from the Ohio State University, was named Teacher of the Year in 2002 by the Ohio Department of Education.
She and her husband, Tom, a Bexley City Schools educator, have lived in Upper Arlington for six years. Their children, Jackie and Dan, attend the Ohio State University.
Kunze and Reedy both voiced a desire to serve in a public office that allows them to help build a better life for Ohio residents. ThisWeek could not reach Alban for comment.
Kunze and Reedy were asked about Gov. John Kasich and the state legislature's decision to make cuts in funding to school districts and local governments to alleviate the state's $8 billion deficit without raising taxes.
Kunze said she supported the effort, as it balanced the budget without creating a new tax.
"The abolishment of the estate tax was overdue," she said.
Kunze called the estate tax "unfair," especially on agricultural properties, and it kept many other businesses from locating in Ohio.
She said the governor's budget balancing caused local governments to reconsider their own budgets.
"At the local level, we have made the required sacrifices and should not rely on future money from the state to go back to spending as usual," said Kunze, adding local governments can reduce spending through shared services.
Reedy did not agree with the budget decision. She said the governor simply shifted tax increases from the state to the local level.
"(Local governments are) facing severe budget cuts combined with the repeal of the estate and tangible property taxes, and a $2.8 billion (cut) in state-education funding," she said.
Reedy said the tactic forces communities to reduce services or consider a tax increase.
"(It) weakens the middle class and (is) not the way to build economic prosperity," she said.
Both candidates expressed a degree of skepticism about the Third-Grade Reading Guarantee, a policy of the Kasich administration that would hold back third-grade students not reading up to grade level.
Reedy said there is no "one-size-fits-all" intervention for children with academic or behavioral deficits.
"For our state to mandate that all children be held back ... based on results from one test taken one day ... is wielding an ax rather than a scalpel to address the complex layers of student performance," Reedy said.
Extra support and small group instruction, in addition to regular classroom instruction, would be an effective use of taxpayer revenue, Reedy said.
Kunze said although literacy for third-grade students is essential, "we must be careful to allow districts to retain local control (and) avoid unfunded mandates."
"Many districts already have an intervention process in place and are addressing this issue," Kunze said.
The candidates had opposing views 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 a commission of appointed residents.
Kunze said while improvements to the current redistricting process are needed, Issue 2 is not the answer.
"I believe redistricting duties belong to elected officials who are held accountable to the voters, not (to a publicly unaccountable) commission," Kunze said.
Reedy said she supports Issue 2.
"Our current system enables boundaries to be carved out to favor one political party over another," Reedy said.
"By moving towards a system of citizen commissions, we can ensure greater accountability and transparency in our democratic system."
Kunze and Reedy both said they supported Ohio's current process for early and absentee voting.