Four Democrats are running in the May primary election for Congress, each hoping to move on and defeat longtime Republican Congressman Mike Turner in November.
Kirk Benjamin, David Esrati, Jeff Hardenbrook and Baxter Stapleton will be on the Democratic ballot for voters who live in the Congressional 10th district. The district includes Montgomery County, Greene County and parts of Clark County.
Turner was first elected to Congress in 2002 and is the ranking member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, one of the top national security positions in Congress.
Esrati said he is focused on helping small businesses in America be successful. He said big corporations like Amazon and Google are squeezing the small businesses and they need help.
“I believe that small business, which creates a majority of jobs in America, is unrepresented by our corporate-owned Congress,” he said. “My political career started at the same time as Mike Turner’s and I believe he has become a tool of the military-industrial complex, and that the people here deserve a congressman that will actually meet with them.”
Esrati said he wants to push for a national health care option for small businesses. He also said he wants to create a voter information system that gives real-time campaign finance reports as well as politicians’ voting records and how to contact them.
He said he wants to level the playing field and make all incentives, tax breaks and economic development dollars available to all companies.
“I plan to build support to turn Medicare into a buy-in program option for all small businesses,” he said. “Force the FEC to build a donation clearinghouse portal that requires verified identities to donate to all national candidates to start — i.e., the donations go to the FEC — and then are disbursed to the candidates. End self-reporting, end middlemen like ACTblue or Anedot.”
Esrati lives in Dayton and owns The Next Wave Marketing Innovation. He said he will help citizens fight for an honest, transparent government.
Stapleton said he decided to run for Congress because he wants to see a change in Washington D.C.
“My campaign is about accountability. In Congress, I will fight to hold companies and the ultra-wealthy accountable to pay their fair share in taxes for the greater good, and I will work to transform our economy to adapt and rise to the challenges of automation, climate change, and China’s global influence,” he said. “Our current Congressman only answers to his party leadership and his donors, and I will be a true public servant answering only to the Ohioans in my district.”
Stapleton said he will focus on strengthening infrastructure and supporting the missions in and around Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. He said he wants to fight for funding for clean energy and technology and expand and invest in public education. He said every child should have access to preschool and he would like to expand public education for two years of college “so people can learn the skills to be ready for the jobs of the future around programming and technology.”
Stapleton said he has experience lobbying to get bills passed and has worked with large companies like Apple.
“I will use the relationships I have with companies like Apple to attract new talent and opportunities to our district,” he said. “I will not sell out to corporate money and will hold monthly events and forums to talk directly to the people of this district. I will operate with transparency and am committed to fighting for term limits to stop career politicians. I have grown up here and love this area and will serve in its best interest.”
Stapleton lives in Dayton and is a filmmaker.
Kirk Benjamin said he chose to run for Congress because he wanted to learn more about complex issues like the environment, military and education.
“I had the idea that if I was running for Congress, people who have expertise would be more likely to talk to me, and then I could present those interesting ideas to the public,” Benjamin said, noting that it hasn’t worked out so far.
He said he hasn’t been actively campaigning but hopes whoever wins the May primary will go on to win the seat in November.
“My main concern would be that the Democrats get out to vote because the foundation of our political system is the Constitution, and the Republicans at this point, as a mass, not every single one, seem to have no problem not paying attention to or following the Constitution,” he said.
He said if elected, his personal priorities wouldn’t matter as much because he would be a junior Congressman. He said he would vote the party platform. However, he said if he could set priorities, it would be to preserve the Constitution, climate and education.
Benjamin lives in Kettering and worked with computers for large companies and organizations in a 50-year-career.
“I think I can think very logically and I care about people,” Benjamin said. “What you are trying to do is work for the good of the people.”
Hardenbrook said he’s running for office because of “the corruption of Republicans in the state and federal government the past five years.”
He cited protecting affordable healthcare as the first of his campaign priorities, pointing to Turner’s past votes against Obamacare. He said he also wants to protect democracy.
“On January 6, 2021, we and the world stared in shock, disgust and embarrassment at the antics of our former president, climaxing in a failure to overthrow a peaceful transfer of power,” Hardenbrook said. “All Americans should oppose any who gave comfort to that insurrection.”
And Hardenbrook put a focus on environmental protection, saying society should strive to leave the earth better than we found it for future generations.
Hardenbrook, whose bachelor’s degree is in electrical engineering, said he co-owns a small business, He has been married for 38 years, with three children and three grandchildren. Decades ago, he and his wife worked overseas in mission/development with southern African churches.
Hardenbrook said his fight “is alongside the common woman and man in our district.”
“The fact is, when Americans are listened to, our government is strengthened, our families, communities, and businesses are healthier, more vibrant,” he said.
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