Although the 17th District of the Ohio House of Representatives covers a lot of territory, the two Democratic candidates on the March 15 primary ballot both live in one of the district's smallest communities.

Although the 17th District of the Ohio House of Representatives covers a lot of territory, the two Democratic candidates on the March 15 primary ballot both live in one of the district's smallest communities.

Matt Jolson and Adam Miller are both Marble Cliff residents.

The district also covers much of west and south Columbus, including the Hilltop and Westgate, Franklin Township, San Margherita, Valleyview and portions of Hamilton Township. It does not include Grandview, which lies in District 18.

Jolson said he decided to run for state representative after current Rep. Mike Curtin -- also a Marble Cliff resident -- decided not to seek another term.

"I had previous public-service experience working as a legislative service commission fellow in the Ohio House, and having worked for quite some time in the private sector, I was looking for an opportunity to get back into public service," Jolson said. "Serving in the House would be a way to give back to the community and gives you a unique way to help shape policy at the state level."

Jolson said his campaign's basic themes are what he calls "the 3 C's."

Those are investment in children (education); community development; and crime reduction.

Regarding education, "I think there are some tremendous opportunities, more than have been looked at by the legislature, in areas such as prepaid education and vocational education," Jolson said.

More needs to be done to focus on enhancing the educational opportunities for children in low-income or working-class families, he said.

Most of the communities in the 17th District rightly believe their issues have not received as much attention at the state level as other central Ohio communities, Jolson said.

"There's a real need for incentives for small businesses in the Hilltop and other areas of the district," he said.

Grandview and Marble Cliff could serve as models for an effort that would have to be enacted on a much larger scale because of the size of the Hilltop, Jolson said.

Although he lives in Marble Cliff, Miller is a fourth-generation native of the Hilltop.

"It's a special opportunity to be able to give back to the community I was born in and my family has been a part of for 100 years," he said.

Miller said he supports "the constituent service model that was started by (former 17th District Rep.) Mike Stinziano. He's a mentor to me."

His background in education -- as a teacher, coach and, from 2012-15, a Grandview school board member -- would provide expertise regarding both policy and the classroom with adjustments needed for the state's educational funding and testing systems, Miller said.

"We need to change our state testing system so teachers are spending less time testing and more time instructing their students," he said.

The funding for preschool programs that was cut last year should be restored, Miller said.

Reading is fundamental for students, he said, and he supports providing more funding statewide to establish reading initiatives.

Many residents in the 17th District are on fixed incomes and the state needs to restore, not cut unemployment benefits and other initiatives for workers, Miller said.

"People need a boost to be able to focus on developing the skills they need," he said.

A community foundation in the Hilltop could help bring residents and organizations together to find ways to improve the neighborhood, Miller said.

Miller, 51, is a partner with the Taft, Stettinius & Hollister law firm. He has served 20 years in the military and currently is in the Army Reserve, JAG Corps.

Miller and his wife have two children.

Jolson, 37, grew up in Delaware County and has lived in Marble Cliff for nearly five years. He is an assistant general counsel with Nationwide Insurance.

Jolson and his wife have two children.

Curtin has endorsed Jolson.

"No one knows more about the community and the statehouse than Rep. Curtin, which is why I'm so proud to have his endorsement," Jolson said.

The victor in the March 15 race will go on to face Republican candidate John Rush, a Columbus resident who is running unopposed in the primary.