Local statehouse candidates debate for March primary election

Ohio Senate and House of Representative candidates attended forum.

Credit: Jessica Orozco

Credit: Jessica Orozco

Candidates for state representative and state senator representing parts of Clark, Greene and Clinton counties appealed to voters Monday evening at the Springfield City Hall Forum.

Three candidates for state 71st district representative, and two for state senator for the 10th district, debated each other at the event hosted by Leadership Clark County.

Only candidates running for contested primary seats were invited to the event. A general election debate will be held in September.

Ohio Senate 10th District

The 10th District encompasses Clark, Greene and Clinton counties.

Former Ohio Rep. Kyle Koehler and Sugarcreek Twp. trustee Carolyn Destefani are the Republicans running to replace Sen. Bob Hackett in the 10th district. Hackett does not live in the newly redrawn 10th district, and his term expires with the general election.

Democrat candidate Daniel McGregor will face the Republican who wins the March 19 primary in November.

Destefani, a Gulf War U.S. Air Force veteran, said her record as a trustee includes securing $3 million of federal funding for a Wilmington Pike I-675 corridor improvement. She said her legislative priorities include economic development, focusing on education in science, technology, engineering, art and math; and immigration challenges including housing, crime and driver’s education.

“I am the small but mighty outsider; I am not a career politician and I’m not backed by the good old boy network,” Destefani said. “Columbus should not be deciding this election. It’s up to the people of District 10 to decide.”

Credit: Jessica Orozco

Credit: Jessica Orozco

Koehler, who served eight years in the state House of Representatives, said his family is very involved in the Springfield community, running a manufacturing business, and being involved in organizations including the Nehemiah Foundation, the Second Harvest Food Bank and Choosing Hope Adoption.

Koehler touted achievements in his time in the statehouse from 2015 to 2022, including Destiny’s Law, which increased the penalty by six years for a person convicted of felonious assault that caused permanent disability to a person under 10 years old.

“When a mother came to me and Sen. Hackett with a child who was beaten so badly by a boyfriend she was left totally disabled, she explained how devastated she was to learn that the man walked away with almost no prison time,” Koehler told voters. ”I worked with Sen. Hackett to pass Destiny’s Law to be sure monsters like that are locked up for a long, long time.”

Credit: Jessica Orozco

Credit: Jessica Orozco

He also spoke about sponsoring the Fairness in Lending Act, which reformed payday lending to close loopholes and clarify statutes regulating the industry.

Koehler referred to Destefani as “a very nice person” but said she does not have the legislative experience that he will carry to the senate on day one.

Both candidates said despite their anti-abortion views, they respect the change to the constitution enshrining a limited right to an abortion in the state constitution.

“I will support the constitution but I will work to explain to people what we just did in hopes of changing that,” Koehler said.

The statehouse is currently discussing doing away with the state income tax, and both candidates discussed the potential impact to the state budget.

Destefani said she would look at reducing the state budget and increasing natural gas revenue.

Koehler said the state “can move towards getting rid of the income tax if we stop spending every new dollar we take in.”

State Representative 71st District

The 71st District comprises part of southern Clark County, and Greene and Clinton counties.

Three of four Republican candidates for state representative, Joshua Day, Bob Fudge and Tyler Scott, attended the debate. Levi Dean, the son of current Rep. Bill Dean, who is not running for re-election, did not attend.

The Republican primary winner will face off against Democrat James Duffee in November.

Fudge, a U.S. Air Force veteran and former Cedarville mayor, said he is running to help the community because he cares.

He said, if elected, he will first build trust with his colleagues in the statehouse, continuing what he said he has been doing recently in meeting with community members and people impacted by community concerns.

“I’ve been getting to businesses that operate in our district to find out what their issues are,” Fudge said.

Credit: Jessica Orozco

Credit: Jessica Orozco

Fudge said he would recommend marijuana tax revenue to go toward funding the law enforcement response to the newly legalized drug and addressing the high rate of people experiencing homelessness in the area.

Day, an aerospace engineer who works for General Electric in hypersonic test flights, said in serving on the Xenia Community Schools School Board for the last two years, he has learned how to work with a diverse community. He said the statehouse needs “somebody that’s willing to stand up and go toe-to-toe with the establishment and fight for what we want and what we need in our communities.”

He said he will build relationships at the start of his term at the statehouse if elected in order to get himself up to speed on statewide issues.

Day said he thinks marijuana tax dollars should go toward programs already in place in order to reduce taxes for Ohioans.

Scott, a U.S. Army National Guard veteran and businessman, said he wants to root out corruption in the statehouse, address the housing crisis and reduce government spending.

Scott said he is the only candidate who has not run for office before, and he has not liked seeing inflating costs of living and corporations buying up large numbers of homes and charging high rent prices.

He said he wants tax dollars from marijuana sales to go toward addressing child human trafficking and fighting drug addiction and mental illness.

“Springfield specifically has a huge drug problem, so I will use the ... revenue from the marijuana tax to fight drug addictions and the mental health problems of those using them,” Scott said.

Scott also discussed the potential for more drug rehabilitation programs that teach people skills to take in their recovery, and removing the state income tax.

“We need to stop taking the money out of the pockets of District 71 and then not give it back to them,” Scott said.


Absentee ballot applications for the primary are available now, and the ballots will be mailed starting Feb. 21. Early voting will take place from Feb. 21 through March 17.

The registration deadline to vote in the March 19 election is Feb. 20.

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