For the most part local candidates were cordial and kind to one another at the League of Women Voters’ Meet the Candidates Night Tuesday evening.
The event, held at the Welcome Center on Second Street, Portsmouth, drew a modest crowd to hear their candidates speak on various topics from Issue 1 to gun control to the future of the Southern Ohio Port Authority (SOPA).
One question, however, sparked some criticism, when experience was brought up in the race for 90th District State Representative. Republican Brian Baldridge boasted he has been a township trustee and is currently serving in his fourth term as Adams County Commissioner.
When it came time for local attorney and Democratic candidate Adrienne Buckler, she spoke of how she does not have that experience but she “will not leave in the middle of her term” to seek a better job. She charged her opponent with running from a “safe seat;” if he is defeated for state representative, he will still have his job as commissioner.
“I’m here to work for the people,” Buckler said. “If you want someone to stand up for you and fight for you, then I’m that candidate.”
Likewise, there was a level of disagreement between the two candidates for Scioto County Commissioner concerning the future of SOPA and what role the board will have in future developments.
Democrat challenger Trampas Puckett said the board was one of the best in the US, until business leaders left the board after the commissioners withdrew funding.
“It’s not where it should be,” Puckett said.
Republican incumbent Bryan Davis said the board is alive and well, saying the commissioners did pull back funding, but SOPA is still very active in getting economic development in Scioto County.
“Good things are happening,” Davis said. “Stay tuned, watch the paper, watch the press. Good things are happening.”
In the race for Scioto County Prosecutor, Democrat challenger Rachael Daehler said in order to fight the opioid crisis and drug addiction in the county, a proactive treatment program needs to be in place. She commented the prosecutor’s office “are a team of lawyers, not doctors,” saying the disease of addiction cannot be beat in the courtroom. Daehler said she would like to see the drug courts expanded to better serve those in need of help with addiction.
Republican incumbent Shane Tieman said contrary to popular belief, “we don’t throw people in prison and throw away the key.” He said the Scioto County Drug Court is a model for the state of Ohio. He said the courts make sure there is accountability and those in the court stay clean.
Both candidates agreed State Issue was is “too vague” and would be bad law for the State of Ohio saying once the initiative becomes a part of the Constitution, it would be very difficult and expensive to get it changed. Daehler said there are some parts of the amendment that are good, but some she does not like. Daehler said the issue is “too dangerous” as it is written. Tieman said the issue takes discretion away from local judges. Furthermore, he said it would make Ohio “one of the most lenient” in the nation when it comes to drug laws. He said some people need a felony indictment to push them in the right direction.
For the Fourth District Court of Appeals, which covers 14 counties, including Scioto, Marie Hoover, in her sixth year on the bench is seeking re-election. She is opposed by Jason Smith. Hoover said she “applies the laws as they need applied.” She was the first female elected to the bench in the Fourth District and is currently serving as the Presiding Judge on the panel. She said she works hard, and has faith in God.
Smith said he got into the race because he keeps seeing the courts overreaching and “making law out of thin air.” He said the U.S. Constitution is “very important” to him and he will work to uphold it if he is elected to the bench.
Local attorney Valarie Gerlach is seeking election to an open second seat on the Fourth District Court of Appeals. Gerlach said she feels “it is time” for her to “serve the greater good,” for the district. Her opponent is Mike Hess said he has had success as an attorney and when he graduated from law school, his ambition was to be a judge.
The General Election will be held Nov. 6. Early voting is already underway.