West Side News

Nov. 6 election

Grossman challenged by Johnson in 23rd Ohio House race

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Incumbent Cheryl L. Grossman (R-Grove City) of the 23rd Ohio House District will face a challenge in the Nov. 6 election from Hilliard Democrat Traci "TJ" Johnson.

The 23rd district includes Grove City, the eastern section of Prairie Township, a small section of south Hilliard and parts of west Columbus.

Grossman, the assistant majority whip for the Ohio House of Representatives, will seek a third term. She said she is pleased with the accomplishments of the current General Assembly and desires to continue her efforts to serve her constituents.

She lists among her accomplishments in office a successful effort to repeal Ohio's estate tax, often called the "death tax." Grossman was lead sponsor of House Bill 3 that Ohio Gov. John Kasich signed into law to eliminate the tax.

If re-elected, Grossman said, one of her goals would be to create a uniform municipal tax form.

"There are a lot of different kinds of tax forms among (Ohio) cities and I think it will help our state's businesses if there is a single, uniform process for the collection of municipal taxes," Grossman said.

Grossman, 61, was mayor of Grove City from 1996 to 2008. Prior to that, the lifelong Grove City resident served on City Council.

Grossman and her husband of 41 years, Ron, have two sons, Justin (Emily) and Joshua.

Johnson, a member of the Democratic Party Central Committee representing one of the four wards in Hilliard, said she is seeking election to stop "unfair attacks" on specific groups and institutions by Republicans.

She said she wants to stop "unfair attacks on teachers, police officers, firefighters, nurses, women's rights, voters' rights and public education."

"This district deserves a voice in the Statehouse focused on getting people back to work, strengthening the middle class and restoring the American dream," Johnson said.

This election is Johnson's second attempt at a Statehouse seat. She lost to Ted Celeste in a 2006 primary race for the 24th House District.

Johnson, 47, was elected to the Democratic Party Central Committee in 2008 and was re-elected earlier this year.

Johnson works as an information technology professional.

The candidates were asked to share their views on several topics, including Issue 2 and Ohio's new Third-Grade Reading Guarantee.

Grossman said she opposes Issue 2, the Nov. 6 ballot measure that would assign the responsibility of drawing legislative districts to an independent commission. The taxpayer cost for such a commission, as well as how appointments would be made, is a source of debate among Ohio's two major political parties.

Grossman questioned funding such a commission as well as the process for regulating membership of the commission.

"It's setting up something with no spending limits and without a means for determining how membership is changed," said Grossman, adding that she expects the General Assembly will offer an alternative for political districting.

Johnson said she supports Issue 2 because it gives each voter an opportunity to gain power in the political process.

She said Republicans unfairly redistricted political boundaries after the 2010 census.

"This (23rd) district was designed to give my opponent an edge," Johnson said.

Because of the redrawn districts, Johnson said, she now lives in the 23rd Ohio House District rather than the 24th and is required to seek election in a predominantly Republican district.

"Issue 2 creates a board 'of the people and by the people' and puts the power back in the hands of the people," Johnson said.

The Third-Grade Reading Guarantee is a policy of the Kasich administration that would hold back third-grade students not reading up to grade level.

Grossman said, "Of course we all want every student to be successful," but questioned whether the policy is in the best interest of students.

Johnson criticized the policy for its possible financial impact on Ohio school districts. Following "catastrophic cuts" to education in Kasich's budget, she questioned how screening and reporting will be funded.

"Creative early-intervention solutions ... these types of resources can improve reading proficiency for our third-graders," Johnson said.

On the issue of early voting, Johnson said every opportunity should be extended to ensure all qualified citizens have the opportunity vote.

Grossman said she supports early voting, but that the process needs to be monitored and cannot be abused.

"I come from a time when there was one day to vote. ... But we do need to provide it," Grossman said.

However, the number of such polls, which must be staffed, and the number of days polls are open, must be controlled, Grossman said.

"During this continuing recession, we need to be efficient with taxpayer dollars," Grossman said. "I think there could be slightly fewer days and polling locations for early voting."

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