Four Democrats and two Republicans will face off in their respective primaries March 6, seeking spots on the fall ballot to ultimately serve Ohio's newly created 3rd Congressional District.
Four Democrats and two Republicans will face off in their respective primaries March 6, seeking spots on the fall ballot to ultimately serve Ohio's newly created 3rd Congressional District.
Appearing on the Democratic primary ballot are Joyce Beatty, Ted Celeste, Mary Jo Kilroy and Priscilla Tyson. Republicans squaring off March 6 are Chris Long and John Adams.
The fall ballot will also include two other names: Green Party candidate Bob Fitrakis and Libertarian contender Richard Ehrbar.
Carved out last year when the federal census results cut down Ohio's Congressional seats from 18 to 16, the 3rd District is completely contained within Franklin County, representing about 58 percent of the county's voters and about 80 percent of Columbus residents. The rest of Franklin County is now split between the 12th and 15th districts.
Beatty, 61, serves as senior vice president of outreach and engagement at Ohio State University and previously served in the Ohio House from 1999 to 2008. In 2005, she was selected as the House's first female minority leader.
Celeste, 66, owner of a real-estate firm in Grandview Heights, was elected to the Ohio House in 2006 and is currently serving his third term.
Kilroy, 62, was a Franklin County commissioner from 2001-09, and represented the 15th Congressional District from 2009 to 2011.
Tyson, 56, is a Columbus City Council member who has served since 2007. Prior to that, she served on the Columbus Civil Service Commission from 1993 to 2006.
In the Republican primary, Adams, 66, is the owner of Green Valley Chemicals Inc., served on Portsmouth City Council from 1973 to 1980, and as a Portsmouth City Board of Education member from 1996-99.
Long, 53, is serving his first term on Reynoldsburg City Council. He has also served on the Reynoldsburg Board of Zoning and Building Appeals and on the board of directors of the Reynoldsburg Community Association.
ThisWeek asked each of the candidates to define the needs of the newly created district, describe how they would address poverty in Franklin County, and how they would improve the state and nation's current economic climate. The following is the extended version of candidates' answers:
TW: Has the redistricting of Franklin County created new economic and social issues for the residents of the 3rd District? How would you describe the "feel" of our new district; what best defines the desires and needs of its residents?
Joyce Beatty (D): Redistricting created a new Congressional 3rd District that has some new economic and social issues relative to urban unemployment, blight and crime in some of our communities throughout the Near East Side, South Side and Hilltop.
Residents want leaders in Congress that will stand up for them. In Washington's broken system, few feel as though the work to create jobs, build sustainable small businesses, provide education and job training and provide access to affordable healthcare are being accomplished. Many of our 3rd District residents to leadership in Congress that will make the protection of fair share benefits like social security a top priority. I will fight to ensure our nation's retirees receive the benefits they paid for through their years of employment.
However, I am encouraged by opportunities for residents within the 3rd District to move forward with a promising future. Within our new District are thriving centers of education via our colleges and universities that attract and train new talent. Within the borders of this district are the nation's 15th largest city, large corporate and public employers and growing communities. Our residents want and need leadership who understand the needs of a diverse constituency that range in culture, income and education.
Priscilla Tyson (D): While we face unique challenges in the Third Congrssional District, our hopes and dreams are similar to those shared by Americans from coast to coast. We want jobs and a fair chance to succeed. We want people who work hard and play by the rules to be rewarded. We want safe neighborhoods and quality schools. We want to provide our families with a good life, and we want to leave the world a better place for our children and grandchildren.
The Third Congressional District is the first district we've had that is wholly contained in Franklin County. As the only Democratic candidate who has spent their entire life in this community, I am familiar with these challenges on a deeply personal level.
We have so much to be proud of in Columbus and Franklin County. Our stable, diversified economy is the envy of cities all over the state and region. Our schools and universities are second to none in educating the leaders of tomorrow. Our safety forces have meaningful partnerships with residents in all of our neighborhoods. Our cultural, artistic, and recreational amenities contribute to a quality of life that compares favorably to America's greatest metropolitan areas.
And yet, our community struggles with challenges like poverty, food security, and access to jobs and opportunities. Many of our residents are working extremely hard, but their wages are just too low to provide security for their families. Others have been unemployed or underemployed so long that basic necessities have become luxuries. Too many of our people lost their homes and have not been able to find quality affordable housing.
As your representative in Congress, I will continue the efforts that have defined my service on Columbus City Council: attracting and retaining jobs, bringing economic development to our neighborhoods, supporting our safety forces, nurturing small businesses, and protecting the services that children, seniors, and families depend on.
Ted Celeste (D): We have the same economic and social issues the communities in the new Third District that we had before. What's different is that we have a truly "metropolitan" congressional district now. The compact geography of this district will allow your next member of Congress to participate in events and conversations in every part of the district on a daily basis. As the one candidate who is running a positive campaign based on collaboration and building communities, I feel that the Third District was created for my style of representation. I will hold "District Dialogs" on important issues to urban and suburban voters. These dialogs will not be about top-down Washington solutions to our problems, but will be two-way, public conversations that inform me on the best approaches to take in Congress. Some of the issues I want to begin these dialogs on are: the foreclosure crisis, violence in our communities, the federal budget and public policy concerning children's health and education.
Chris Long (R): The economic and social issues community residents faced prior to the creation of the new 3rd Congressional District remain the same.
I believe very strongly in the strength, spirit and personal pride of the individuals living in the 29 communities that makeup the new 3rd Congressional District. Franklin County and the City of Columbus have made progress in holding owners of abandoned properties accountable for the condition of the properties. Properties are being rehabbed or completely removed when warranted. Cleaning up these properties builds on an individual's pride in where they live. It also removes environments that breed crime and violence.
John Adams (R): I believe that the economic and social issues are the same as before the redistricting.
Because the State Legislature created this new District in the heart of Columbus, the Third District is mostly urban with some outlying suburbs.
I am saddened that our fellow citizens are worried about their jobs. Many of our fellow citizens are unemployed or underemployed.
That is a terrible hardship to bear for them and their families.
Even those working are frightened of the prospect of being laid off and losing their places of residence for themselves and their families.
TW: The redistricting in central Ohio has resulted in a 3rd District that is far poorer than portions of the 12th and 15th districts in Franklin County. If elected, how would you go about addressing poverty within the 3rd District?
Beatty: Understanding the issues of poverty and hunger in the district, my campaign kickoff helped provide more than 700 meals for our vulnerable families needing food in a Columbus' neighborhood suffering from food deserts. Our nation's middle class is comprised of working and indigent families who need the vital services provide to our seniors, disabled and poor through Medicare and Medicaid programs. Congress cannot allow services that help sustain these vulnerable populations to continue to be slashed.
The effects of budget cuts to these programs are driving our working families deeper into destitution. Many of our seniors, disabled, veterans and others are forced to make tough decisions between putting food on the table versus paying medical bills and life sustaining buying medicine. I will work to protect these needed benefits that help so many families through the most difficult circumstances.
Our sick citizens should have affordable access to hospital care, medical insurance and prescription drug coverage. I will work to protect our children that belong to families that either make too much or too little to have access to affordable healthcare. Lastly, prevention is key for all of our communities. Too many of us suffer unnecessarily from health disparities like heart disease and diabetes. I will work to ensure more resources are available to teach residents how to have a good healthy life. Healthier people make healthier communities and a more productive labor force.
Tyson: No one factor is responsible for poverty, and as a result, no one solution will eliminate poverty. We need a comprehensive approach to poverty that focuses on jobs, opportunity, workforce development, education, affordable housing and the preservation of the services that children, seniors, and families depend on.
First, it is time for government at all levels to invest in meaningful workforce development. Experts and employers warn us that Central Ohio's workforce is not prepared for the jobs of tomorrow – or in many cases, the jobs of today. Our community suffers from a disconnect when families struggle while open jobs go unfilled. We need to help our residents develop the skills and experience to fill the jobs that we have, and the jobs that we will create.
We also need to invest in the companies who already have a presence in the district. Most of Central Ohio's job growth in 2012 and beyond will come from businesses that are already here. Instead of passing tax cuts for wealthy "job creators," we need to reward the small, medium, and large employers in our community who actually create jobs.
As a small business owner myself, I know we need reform. That should include a hard look at the tax code, so that we can eliminate provisions that discourage small business expansion and abolish - once and for all - loopholes and incentives for companies who move jobs overseas.
I founded an organization, City Year Columbus, that works with students and teachers in our public schools to enrich learning experiences and environments. I've seen what our kids can do when we invest our time in them, and when we support their teachers. We need a shift in thinking on federal education policy so that we're preparing our students to succeed in life, and not just on standardized tests.
Finally, we need a leader in Washington who believes that Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, unemployment benefits, and other important programs are worth fighting for. If we dismantle social services on our way to deficit reduction, we will sacrifice our values as a nation. We need a balanced approach to deficit reduction that will get our nation's finances in order without breaking the precious covenants we have made across generations.
As chair of Columbus City Council's Finance Committee, I have worked with my colleagues to pass balanced budgets that invest responsibly in our people and our future. That leadership experience will serve me well as a champion for our community in Congress.
Celeste: Poverty will be addressed in the Third District – and the rest of the Ohio – in two major ways. First is economic development and jobs. Public officials at all levels need to collaborate with the private sector to move forward public infrastructure and education improvements. Government needs to be responsive to the needs of business today, but also plan for the high technology future in areas like renewable energy, materials science, advanced manufacturing and the biosciences. This brings me to the second point and that is education. I look forward to working with educators, parents and students in the district to advocate for federal education funding and rules which better prepare kids for the workforce of tomorrow and today. I'm also keenly interested in dyslexia and the autism spectrum which often lead to troublesome stigma and family disintegration. I have worked in the state legislature, and would continue that work in Congress, to ensure that early screening, treatment, educational and community opportunities are accessible to all of our kids.
Long: Education and ready access to needed educational services. Education - Many of our young adults and displaced workers lack the needed skills to get a good paying job and to keep it. I would propose and support federal dollar grants to fund basic skills and technical training for our residents of the 3rd District. Access – Many of the Technical Schools providing the need training can be up to 30 miles from the individuals who need the training the most. I would propose partnerships between the technical education providers and our local community schools, and then work toward setting up after-hours technical and basic skills training.
Adams: We must maintain an economic safety net for those who have suffered job loss and the loss of their homes.
Congress can help the people in the Third District and all Districts in America by enacting legislation that will unleash a prosperous and expanding free-market economy.
Private businesses will invest, build and expand here in Columbus and Franklin County that will create the good paying jobs that our fellow citizens need for themselves and their families.
With good paying jobs comes a return to home ownership.
TW: With a national economy and employment rate that have been the center of concern in recent years, what actions would you take to improve our current economic climate, not only for the nation, but for the state of Ohio as well?
Beatty: The Congressional 3rd District deserves leadership that not only understands the issues, but also maintains working relationships with all of the stakeholders in the grassroots community, public sector, business sector and social services. Ohio is a dynamic state that with vast natural and man made resources. I know how to work with these industries to develop new ideas to get things done in Washington.
I want to provide incentives for businesses to add jobs, continue to provide benefits to unemployed workers, and funds for small business owners. By providing small businesses and large employers tax incentives, workers and industries will flourish. Business payroll taxes need to be reduced in order to give businesses the ability to hire workers.
More importantly, I want ensure that our Congress invests in job training and development for all workers. Our Congress must assist our labor force in getting back to work. Our President has made tremendous strides towards this endeavor by continuing to fund unemployment benefits. I will work to invest in job training that provides modern skills for the modern needs of today's workplace.
In final, reducing and ultimately eliminating the federal deficit will be a major priority for me in Congress. During the Clinton Administration, Congress took a long-run approach to balancing the federal budget. I will look at ending portions of the Bush tax cuts that have benefited the richest 1 percent of Americans while working families see small returns at tax time and payday.
Tyson: Many of the actions that I have noted I would take to address poverty are relevant here. Again, we must focus on jobs, opportunity, workforce development, education, and the preservation of the services that children, seniors, and families depend on.
In order to improve America's economic climate, we need to work on Washington's political climate. When members of Congress are unwilling to work together on even the most basic issues, our entire nation suffers. Too many times over the past few years, ideologues have held our nation, and President Obama's agenda, hostage to the whims of narrow partisan interests.
It is unfortunate that our politics have devolved to the point that the business of our country can be brought to a standstill over ideological debates on important issues like the debt ceiling, payroll tax rates, and the extension of unemployment benefits. In challenging economic times, we cannot afford self-inflicted crises.
I believe that a person can go to Congress and stand up for her beliefs. I will champion the issues that matter to my constituents, and to the constituents of my colleagues: jobs, opportunity, safety, education. And I will do everything in my power to engage bipartisan dialogue on these and other issues.
I will not, however, stand for attempts to weaken the middle class at the expense of powerful special interests. We cannot allow elected officials to manipulate these difficult times as a pretext for dismantling social security, eliminating collective bargaining rights, or pushing through more tax cuts for wealthy corporations.
Just look at the Columbus experience. When the city of Columbus faced a budget nightmare brought on by a national recession, I joined my colleagues in accomplishing what the Congressional Supercommittee couldn't. We pulled together a diverse group of community leaders, developed a realistic plan to maintain vital city services, protect public safety and fight for every job in Columbus. And it's working. Just last year, we faced a new crisis with the draconian cuts to local services by the state government.
It's not enough to be right on an issue – a Congressmember also has to play an effective, constructive role in tackling complex challenges like health care, jobs, neighborhood revitalization and a host of other pressing issues. I've developed that kind of record as a local elected official, small business owner, corporate executive, and nonprofit leader.
Celeste: Let's talk about getting thousands of people back to work right away through rebuilding America's aging infrastructure. Many of our rail lines, ports, airports, water and sewage systems and roads and bridges were first built in the middle third of the last century. The fact that much of this infrastructure is still standing is testament to the American engineer and worker. However, we know that there are many bridges across Ohio that are in desperate need of replacement. We talk about becoming energy independent, yet passenger rail service - let alone high speed rail - is essentially unavailable to most Americans. Let's put some of the financial brain power in this country to work designing a U.S. infrastructure bank that could help fund these projects.
Long: I believe the single most impactful step our federal government could take to help improve the economy would be just to get out of the way. Review and remove burdensome regulations and lower job killing corporate taxes. This would jumpstart the incredible capability of our country's small business machine. Let these companies do what they do best. Make a product, sell that product and hire workers. Much of what is the essential debilitation is an excess of uncertainty. Companies have projects planned. These plans call for purchasing equipment and hiring workers. But, without knowing what is going to come next from Washington DC, the decision is made to hold off.
Adams: One of the basic functions of our Federal government is to create an economic climate in which all Americans have the opportunity to prosper.
Unleashing our free market economy will affect the people living here in the Third District.
We must decrease Federal spending and work towards a Federal balanced budget.
We must decrease the cost and size of our Federal Government, which will decrease the taxes needed.
We must repeal much of the current excessive Federal regulations that are strangling our free-market economy.
We must allow domestic production of energy both here in Ohio and across our nation.
We have untapped energy sources here in Ohio that should be extracted and would create many thousands of good paying jobs. With a shift to our free-market expanding economy, our citizens here in the 3rd District should be able to find good-paying jobs and those with jobs will have a greater sense of job security.