Local voters in both major political parties will cast ballots March 6 to decide which 15th Congressional District candidates will advance to the November election.

Local voters in both major political parties will cast ballots March 6 to decide which 15th Congressional District candidates will advance to the November election.

Incumbent Republican Rep. Steve Stivers will face challenger Charles Chope in the primary; Pat Lang and Scott Wharton will vie for the Democrat nomination.

The winners will face Independent Warren Taylor, who owns Snowville Creamery in Meigs County, in November.

The old 15th District included half of Franklin County, and all of Madison and Union counties. The newly redrawn 15th District still covers all of Madison and part of Franklin County, including most of German Village. It also includes all of Clinton, Fairfield, Hocking, Morgan, Perry, Pickaway and Vinton counties, as well as parts of Athens, Fayette and Ross counties.

Steve Stivers

In the 2010 election, Stivers defeated Democrat Mary Jo Kilroy by a 54.2 percent to 41.3 percent vote.

Stivers, 46, is married and is the father of a daughter. He is a Columbus resident who has resided in the district for 29 years.

He earned his bachelor's and master's degrees in business from Ohio State University. He worked in the banking industry before serving as a state senator from 2003-08. He is a lieutenant colonel in the Ohio Army National Guard, with 26 years of service, and served in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

"I believe in the conservative values of low taxes, limited government and the importance of continued efforts on job creation," Stivers said of his political philosophy. "My style emphasizes servant leadership and working hard every day to make people proud."

Stivers said getting Ohioans back to work is his top priority.

"I do not believe that it is the role of government to create jobs, but rather, government can create an environment that is favorable for businesses to create jobs," he said. "To that end, I support legislation to create jobs by providing certainty on taxes, regulation, health care and energy costs.

"I have also introduced legislation which would create thousands of American jobs repairing our roads and bridges, paid for by expanding offshore energy production," he said. "This legislation will create jobs, reduce our dependence on foreign oil and lower the price of gas at the pump. I furthermore support over 40 jobs bills which would get Americans back to work."

While he believes the economy "appears to be starting to turn around," Stivers said, much remains to be done.

"Our debt crisis also imperils the economy," he said. "I have been working to get spending under control - from small steps, like returning $700 from my own paycheck each month to go toward paying down the national debt, to large steps like joining my colleagues in passing a budget that cut $6.2 trillion in spending."

As far as energy is concerned, Stivers said the United States needs an "all-of-the-above energy plan that includes everything from renewable energy to clean coal to expanding drilling here at home.

"I am a co-sponsor of multiple bills which help put an end to the Washington policies that are increasing gas prices," he said. "These bills would expand American energy production to help lower costs and create jobs.

"I introduced my jobs bill to use the funding created from offshore drilling leases to pay for our roads and bridges. In this tough economy, it is important that we find creative ways to pay for necessities such as infrastructure."

Stivers said that as a member of Congress, he has no authority over school funding.

"However, it is important that we ensure our schools are properly funded and our children have the opportunity to succeed and remain competitive, not only with children from other states but with children from around the world," he said.

Stivers said Gov. John Kasich "has been focused on job creation, which is where he should be focused. Ultimately, it will be up to the voters of Ohio whether he gets re-elected."

Charles Chope

Chope, 48, did not respond to written requests from ThisWeek to provide information about his candidacy.

According to The Columbus Dispatch, Chope is an Upper Arlington resident and self-employed investor. Chope considers himself a "true conservative" and supports a flat income tax of 10 percent to 15 percent, as well as significant debt reduction through spending cuts. He would make the Bush tax cuts permanent and privatize government functions where possible, including the Transportation Safety Administration.

Pat Lang

Lang, 34, is married and lives in Athens; he has resided in the district for 30 years.

Lang is a graduate of Alexander High School in Albany, Ohio, and earned degrees in political science from Ohio University and law from the University of Cincinnati. He served on Athens City Council while he was an undergraduate in 1998-99, and is a former assistant county prosecutor. He has been the city's law director since 2008.

"I'm running because I grew up in a small Appalachian town. As a child, my parents could sometimes afford to heat just one room of the house in winter time," Lang said. "I've seen firsthand what happens to families and communities when work disappears. That's why it makes me so angry to look at Congress and see them do a whole lot of nothing to create jobs, but they bend over backwards to protect their Wall Street pals.

"We can do better," he said. "We can level the playing field and make it fair for the forgotten middle class in places like Grove City and Canal Winchester. But to do it, we've got to change the people we're sending to Washington. That's why I'm running for Congress."

If elected, Lang said he would adhere to core principles, yet "set aside partisanship and work with others to achieve results."

"I believe that both sides should be working together to solve the economic mess we're in," he said.

Lang also wants to preserve Medicare and Social Security for senior citizens.

"I will fight every day to restore a level playing field for middle class families in central Ohio," he said.

Lang said job creation will be his top priority.

"The current Congress has done nothing but stall and block action on jobs," he said. "This includes Congressman Stivers, who continues to go along with his congressional leadership instead of standing up for Ohio. If the Washington politicians continue to bicker, obstruct and put partisanship above country, then any recovery will be short-term and fleeting."

To create jobs, Lang said, there needs to be investment in infrastructure, which will provide a ripple effect in communities. He is also a proponent of offering tax credits to employers for hiring veterans. He is opposed, however, to raising gas taxes to fund Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) construction projects.

"Gas prices are too high to begin with," Lang said. "I would not favor hitting middle class families in the pocketbook by raising the gas tax.

"America needs more clean, domestically produced energy from every safe, available source," he said. "We cannot ensure a safe future for our country while relying on overseas oil for so much of our energy."

Lang believes Ohio should restore funding to school districts.

"Long-term economic growth depends on having a workforce equipped with the tools to compete in an information economy," he said. "We cannot ignore our commitment to public education. We must maintain our vital investments in our schools, teachers and students.

"There are plenty of areas where government can and should cut, but we cannot afford the long-term costs which result from shortchanging our schools today," he said. "We should aim for the sort of excellence in public schools that we have in places like Upper Arlington."

Scott Wharton

Wharton, 53, is the father of a son and daughter and lives in Amanda on a family-run farm he owns. He has resided in the district for 30 years.

Wharton is a graduate of Amanda-Clearcreek High School and earned a bachelor's degree in computer science from Ohio University. A retired Air Force pilot with 20 years' service, including in Operation Desert Storm, Wharton is currently an airline pilot who flies Boeing 737s, and is a union member.

"I have a lifetime of experience, a broad background and the leadership experience to represent you," Wharton said. "We have to stop partisan politics in Congress and work across the aisle to provide leadership to get us out of the worst recession of our lifetime.

"This means there will have to be compromise from both parties," he said. "We need to use common sense to start reducing the deficit and work toward a balanced budget. The infighting of Congress over the last year has done more to sustain the recession than lead us out of it."

Wharton believes the economy is slowly recovering, and favors investing in "infrastructure projects, much like what was proposed in President Obama's American Jobs Act of 2011.

"This will provide good jobs for Americans and start much-needed repairs on projects such as our schools and roads," he said. "I would support a small increase in gas taxes to fund ODOT construction projects. The jobs created from these projects must be given to Ohioans and will help the local economy."

Wharton said Ohio is "taking the right approach in trying to move to alternative energy resources by 2025." He favors mandating that at least 25 percent of all electricity sold in the state should come from alternative energy resources such as wind, solar, hydroelectric power, geothermal, and biomass.

Doing so would help end dependence on foreign oil, he said.

"Funding should be restored to the schools," Wharton said. "One way would be to eliminate the private school vouchers. Millions of tax dollars have been lost to private school operators who misrepresented enrollment data and (used) the system for personal profit."