Voters Guide: LaRose vs. Clark vs. Maras in Secretary of State race

All candidates for local and state office were sent the same series of questions by the Dayton Daily News. Our goal was to help voters make informed choices in the Nov. 8 election (early voting for which begins Oct. 12).

This race for Ohio Secretary of State includes Republican incumbent Frank LaRose, Democratic challenger Chelsea Clark and independent challenger Terpsehore Tore Maras. The candidates’ answers are below, in their own words. Candidates are listed in alphabetical order, except in cases where some candidates did not respond.

Frank LaRose

Residence: Columbus

Organizations, boards, previous elected positions: U.S. Army, 101st Airborne (1997-2001), U.S. Army Special Forces, Green Beret (2001-2007), State Senator for 27th District (2011-2018), Fairlawn Veterans of Foreign Wars, Jr. Vice Commander (2009-Current), Ohio History Connection, Board Member (2011-2018), Boy Scouts of America Great Trail Council, Executive Board Member (2009-Current), Northern Ohio Italian American Foundation, Member (2009-Current) Green Beret Foundation, Executive Board - Cincinnati Chapter (2019-Current)

Education: The Ohio State University (2004-2008), Bachelor’s Degree in Consumer Affairs & Business

Current employment: Ohio Secretary of State (2019-current), U.S. Army Reserve (2021-current)

Why are you seeking elected office: At eighteen, when I began my decade of service in the U.S. Army, I took an oath to defend the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic. This oath constitutes a lifelong commitment. While serving overseas I had the opportunity to see people risk their lives to vote for the first time, and this made a profound impact on me. When I came back home, I decided to run for State Senate to continue my service, and when I took office I became the go-to legislator on elections issues.

I’m running for re-election to build on the work that I’ve done as Ohio’s Secretary of State. Over the course of my first term, we’ve modernized the office in key areas including cyber security and campaign finance transparency, facilitated a record number of business filings for Ohio’s entrepreneurs, and carried out Ohio’s most successful election in state history.

With another term in office, I will work to further modernize our elections and advocate for our entrepreneurs. I want to continue my service and make Ohio the best it can be so my three little girls can grow up in a state with a thriving democracy, prosperous economy, and a bright future full of opportunity.

Why should voters elect you: Across the country, our elections have never been under greater scrutiny. In Ohio, under my leadership we’ve proven to be a national leader in election administration and election integrity. With enormous headwinds of a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic and an extraordinarily polarizing presidential election, we carried out Ohio’s most secure and successful election in its history.

The nearly 6 million votes cast in 2020′s general election were 200,344 more than the all-time record of 5.7 million set in the 2008 general election. The rate of rejected absentee ballots — for mistakes made by the voter — was reduced from the historic average of about 1% to 0.42%. When some states had a scarcity of poll workers we recruited and trained over 56,000 poll workers to staff nearly 4,000 polling locations - another all time record.

Just as with my service in the military, when it comes to running Ohio’s elections, I have a sense of mission. In turbulent times like 2020, I provided steady, strong leadership along with our bipartisan boards of election – and regardless of if your favorite candidate won or lost, Ohioans knew we had an honest election.

If elected, what will be your top three priorities? Continue Ohio’s record of secure elections -- Election integrity requires constant vigilance. While in my first term, we worked to modernize county board of election cyber security and infrastructure, root out mis and disinformation, and continually maintain accurate voter lists, there’s more that we must do to build on this record of success.

Further modernize our system of voting – Since my time in the legislature, I’ve been advocating for online absentee ballot requests. As Secretary of State, I’ve advocated for a more secure and accessible approach to voter registration. In my second term, I’ll work to bring ideas like these to fruition.

Encouraging Entrepreneurship and Supporting Small Business – As the front door to new businesses in Ohio, we’ve helped facilitate record numbers of new business filings. With another term, I’ll continue to make the office welcoming and supportive for entrepreneurs and advocate for pro-growth reforms at the legislature to boost Ohio’s free market economy.

What specific plans do you have to address those top priorities? On election security and integrity, my office can be a hub of information and resources for voters who have concerns about their vote or information they’re receiving during election season. As I embark on a second term, I’ll work to further these initiatives within the office and build out these resources for voters.

Over my first term, I’ve worked with the legislature on various elections-related bills. There currently remain bills at the statehouse which would provide for a secure modernized voter registration process and online absentee ballot requests. I will continue working with the legislature in a bipartisan fashion to get these bills across the finish line for Ohio voters.

Anything else you would like voters to know? I’ve worked hard over the past four years to make Ohio’s elections secure, fair and accessible. My military experience has taught me a lot about putting the mission first – and I’ve brought that to my leadership of this office and built an undeniable record of success.

I also have a clear vision to build on our accomplishments and take this office to the next level for Ohioans. I’m honored to have a diverse base of support from business and labor groups, and from individuals across the state who believe we can accomplish more by working together. Ultimately, voters don’t want a partisan activist – on either side of the aisle – as their Secretary of State. They want someone who will faithfully execute the law, put service over self and keep our elections fair, secure, and accessible.

The opportunity to continue to serve as Ohio’s Secretary of State would be an honor that I would never take lightly. If you choose me again for this important job, I’ll work hard to make you proud.

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Chelsea Clark

No response

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Terpsehore “Tore” Maras

No response