White, 61, is finishing her first term. Previously, she was elected to three, six-year terms as Kettering Municipal Court clerk. White earned a bachelor’s degree from Wright State University and ran a small business for more than 15 years.
Caruso, 26, is seeking elected office for the first time. He is a legal aid attorney specializing in eviction defense work. Caruso earned his bachelor’s degree from Miami University and a law degree from Duke University.
A third candidate for the 36th District seat, John Biller of Kettering, will not be listed on the ballot, but has been approved as a write-in candidate by the Montgomery County Board of Elections.
Both White and Caruso addressed with the Dayton Daily News Ohio’s “heartbeat” abortion law, the economy and education, among other issues. The state’s abortion law is facing ongoing legal challenges in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade.
White said Ohioans face “critical times” economically and touted her ability to work with people to find solutions to common issues.
“The bottom line is, I have deep experience in multiple sectors. I’ve run my own business,” she said. “I know how to ask the right questions and bring people together on the problems we all agree on.
“The fact is, we have so many people who are tired of division,” White added. “And people want to work together and focus on the things that we have in common and will move people forward. I have a track record of doing that and I have the experience in doing that.”
With inflation driving up costs, “people are having to make hard choices and the legislature is going to have to make hard choices,” she said.
“And it’s very important that we have people who are experienced, who are proven leaders who get results and you do it in such a way that they’re looking out for the greater community and looking at bringing people together to solve problems,” White added. “And that’s my focus.”
Health, education, safety will also be top priorities, she said.
Ohio should “spend more on the front end, preventing issues and equipping children with the skills that they need have the positive life skills to be connected to school and prepared for school,” White said.
This would lessen “problems with addiction and mental health,” increasing their odds of graduating and earning “post-high school credential attainment,” she added.
While pro-life, White called abortion a “complicated” issue, noting Ohio needs “to clarify the exceptions and clarify the law because we need to protect women’s health and lives.”
Caruso said he is running because “I’m disappointed and frustrated what’s going on in Columbus. I think there are policies that seem very out of touch with everyday Ohioans,” including the abortion law.
Caruso calls himself a pro-choice candidate endorsed by Planned Parenthood and Pro-Choice Ohio, but did not elaborate. He wants to ensure “access to safe, legal, and compassionate abortion care,” his website states.
Caruso’s top priorities are education, energy reform and affordable housing.
School funding must be addressed because “property taxes keep rising because our state has moved funding away from schools and local governments,” he said.
Funding exists “without raising taxes if Columbus will allocate it. Every child deserves access to a quality education, regardless of their zip code,” according to Caruso. “By tying school funding to property values, it harms areas least able to shoulder the burden.”
The state also needs more incentives for homeowners to invest in green energy, he said.
“Energy prices have risen in our state because our state has not invested in its grid,” according to Caruso.
He said “Ohio has actively discouraged new green energy sources like wind and solar, both of which are becoming cheaper and more stable.”
Landlords have “no incentives to put solar panels in or invest in green energy on their properties because they’re not the ones paying for utilities. And that really leaves residents in the lurch, keeps energy prices high and stops our transition to a cleaner economy,” he said.
The state should also work more with local governments on “zoning codes and things that hinder development” and “drive up housing costs,” Caruso added.