2 Republicans running in primary for open local state House seat

The 43rd District includes Trotwood, part of Dayton, Clayton, Brookville, New Lebanon and Harrison, Jackson and Perry townships. The district also includes all of Preble County.

Regardless of who wins, there will be a new face in the Ohio Statehouse representing west-central Montgomery County and Preble County next year.

VOTERS GUIDE: What’s on your May 8 ballot?

With state Rep. Jeff Rezabek deciding to run for Montgomery County Juvenile Court judge, two Republicans and one Democrat are running to fill 43rd Ohio House district seat.

Montgomery County Commissioner Dan Foley is unopposed in the May 8 primary and so is not profiled here.

RELATED: May Election: South suburban statehouse race one to watch

Two Republicans, Clayton Councilman Kenneth C. Henning and Germantown pastor J. Todd Smith, are vying for the Republican nomination.

Here’s a look at the two Republicans based on interviews and their comments in the Dayton Daily News Voter Guide.

Kenneth C. Henning

Henning has served on Clayton council since 2012 and he said his experience in governing and the relationships he’s built as a “conservative collaborator” make him the best candidate for the 43rd.

Henning said it important that Clayton stays represented in the Statehouse since the two current state representatives from the city of about 13,000 are both leaving office.

He said he has worked to build relationships in Preble County and wants to make sure they have a state representative “with the same morals as them.” Henning said it is important to be in line with what the Ohio Farm Bureau wants, but he said there will be times when he would need to balance competing demands from the agricultural portions of the district and the more urban ones.

His two priorities will be fighting the opioid epidemic and fostering economic development. In both cases his plan is to be supportive of local officials. He said the state also needs to make sure treatment funding isn’t wasted.

Henning said he would also try to bring state capital budget money to the district and make sure that communities properly fill out grant paperwork.

He said he wants the state to do a better job on workforce development but he doesn’t want any more taxpayer money spent on it. Instead he would try to get businesses to pay for training people for jobs. Henning also opposes adding any more state money to for college financial aid.

“The state doesn’t have the ability to fund people to go to school,” Henning said.

Henning wants to reform the Medicaid program to make it cost less money, but he said he would not end the controversial expansion of the program.

“We have to systematically revise the program but we can’t do a 180 degree turn on something that’s helping so many people in the 43rd District,” Henning said.

On the issue of abortion, Henning said he was endorsed by the Ohio Right to Life Political Action Committee and agrees with all of that group’s positions. He wants the state to use regulations to close abortion clinics.

But Henning said state legislators should not pass anti-abortion bills that will not pass constitutional muster and then “spend hundreds of thousands battling for a bill that will be overturned.”

Henning said he supports the Second Amendment and believes that people with concealed carry permits should be allowed to bring guns into a business, even if the business prohibits it.

“At the end of the day your right to bear arms would trump a law or a sign stating that you are not supposed to carry a weapon into a store,” said Henning, adding that he would oppose bringing guns into a child care center.

J. Todd Smith

Smith said he is running because he believes that political leaders engage in waste and corruption.

“Not all of them, but there is a need to get beyond those political considerations to get back to just serving the people,” Smith said.

Asked for examples of waste and corruption, Smith said people cheat the workers’ compensation system and he cited the recent resignation of Ohio House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger, who left office this month after saying the FBI was investigating him. Rosenberger has denied wrongdoing.

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Smith said one of the state’s biggest problem is opioid addiction. He believes the solution lies in tougher criminal penalties for drug dealers as well as imprisoning drug addicts and making them get treatment.

He said the state should not be allowed to override the power of local officials, particularly involving education. Smith said public schools do not need more money, and he would like to give income-based property tax breaks to elderly people even though that would reduce revenue to school districts, public libraries, the county human services levy and Sinclair Community College.

Smith wants the state to give parents vouchers to send their children to the private schools. He also would create special schools for students with behavior problems. He could not say how he would pay for these programs but did advocate that teacher union contracts be modified to save money.

“The number one issue is the teacher unions hold a lot of sway and a lot of power,” Smith said.

He said he has no plan for higher education.

“Nothing. It’s a business. If they can’t survive shut them down,” Smith said. “We have too many schools of higher education for the amount of kids that we have.”

Smith said he also would vote to cut taxes, never vote for tax increases and he would cut unspecified regulations on businesses.

He wants to repeal expansion of Medicaid and said the 685,000 people who get health insurance through the expansion will need to find medical care some other way, such as going to emergency rooms or negotiating their own medical costs with doctors at local clinics.

Smith wants to ban all abortions, but said he would be willing to negotiate exceptions in the case of the life of the mother, incest or rape if abortion rights advocates agree to ban the rest.

On guns, Smith wants no restrictions on semi-automatic weapons but would support a ban on bumpstocks. He opposes expanding background checks to gun shows but would expand restrictions on people with mental health issues.

“Whatever they feel like puts someone in a position where they can threaten someone else. If its a psychosis of some kind, if it’s phobia of some type,” Smith said. “We just don’t want those people getting a weapon.”



Kenneth Henning

Age: 27

Address: Clayton

Education: Bachelor’s degree in history degree and master’s certificate in nonprofit and community leadership from the University of Dayton.

Employment: Judicial assistant for Montgomery County Common Please Judge Erik R. Blaine

Political experience:Clatyon council member since Jan 2012

Political party: Republican


J. Todd Smith

Age: 50

Address: Germantown

Education: Bachelor’s degree in religion from Cincinnati Christian University.

Employment: Pastor at The Church at Farmersville and The Holtsinger Memorial Church in West Chester Twp.

Political experience: None

Political party: Republican

Ohio House of Representatives 43rd District

Term: 2 years

Pay: $60,584 annually

District: Trotwood, part of Dayton, Clayton, Brookville, New Lebanon and Harrison, Jackson and Perry townships, and all of Preble County.

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