Amy Cox will run for the 43rd House District against sitting Representative Todd Smith in the 2020 election season.
Photo: Sarah Franks
Photo: Sarah Franks

Democrat announces run in competitive Dayton-area district

Republican State Rep. J. Todd Smith won the 2018 election in the 43rd district, which includes Trotwood, parts of Dayton, western Montgomery County and all of Preble County, in one of the closest in the state.

The race in one of the Dayton-region’s most competitive political districts started to take shape Thursday night.

Democrat Amy Cox announced plans to run for the 43rd state House seat currently held by state Rep. J. Todd Smith, R-German Twp.

Cox announced her campaign at Camden Bicentennial Park in Preble County, Cox’s home county.

A look back at the race in 2018

The district covers parts of Englewood, Clayton, Trotwood, western Montgomery County and all of Preble County. Statistically, the district is almost split evenly between registered Democrats and Republicans.

Family, friends and neighbors gathered in the park to listen to Cox lay out her campaign platform and why she, a former Richmond High School science teacher and current substitute teacher, is running in what has been in recent years, one of the most competitive districts in the state.

State Rep. J. Todd Smith, R-German twp.

>>PREVIOUS COVERAGE (2018): Local Republicans score wins after last votes counted for 2 races

“My campaign is about working people,” Cox said. “Better paying jobs, bringing up minimum wage. I made $12 an hour 20 years ago fresh out of college, actually I was still in college. We’re real quick to pat ourselves on the back to give people $11 an hour jobs. That was 20 years ago. I don’t know that he (Smith) understands that. Also, I have a science background, I have a background working with real people, being a teacher. I know that he’s a preacher, but you’re limited to the amount of people and the type of people that you’re exposed to in that job. Everybody walks through my doors, everybody sits in my classroom. I get to know the general public very well teaching our children.”

In summer 2018, Smith was appointed to fill the vacant seat after former state lawmaker Jeff Rezabek left the State House to become a Montgomery County Juvenile Court judge. Smith ran as an incumbent in the fall and beat Democratic Montgomery County Commissioner Dan Foley — 50.53% to 49.47%.

“It is an honor serving the people of the 43rd district and I am looking forward to continuing to work hard beyond the 2020 election,” Smith said. “Along with our great leadership, I am proud to have been part of the work on the opioid crisis, childcare, the foster program and as a member of the education committee, championing increased funding for education and doing all this while passing a balanced budget.”

Cox said Preble County historically voting in favor of the Republican candidate is not a threat to her campaign. In recent elections, but bulk of the Democratic vote in the district comes from Montgomery County.

“My plan is to run on issues, not necessarily party. I know what the struggles are around here,” Cox said. “I’ve taught in this county and I substitute in this county now. … So right now, running on issues and being a local from Preble County that puts me in a good spot to flip that district back. It was a squeaker in that last election (Smith versus Dan Foley) and me being a local and having local name and local reputation— I grew up here, my family is from here— I think that puts me in a good position for people to go out and vote for the right candidate for the job.”

Cox did not directly address gun legislation in her speech to the crowd. However, in an interview with Dayton Daily News beforehand, Cox said she is definitely for universal background checks.

“I am definitely for universal background checks. Other people have to go through background checks, I think if you’re going to have a gun, especially one that can kill a lot of people in a short amount of time, you should have to have a universal background check. We can’t just go and take guns from people, that’s not a good idea. But we can offer voluntary programs, like voluntary buyback programs. … More than anything else, we don’t take care of people. People are quick to say it’s a mental health issue, of course it’s a mental health issue. But it’s also an issue of culture, it’s an issue of division. There’s all kinds of reasons why people do this and we don’t study it.”

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