2 Democrats seek election to open Dayton-area Ohio Senate seat

EDITOR’S NOTE: Due to the coronavirus outbreak, the Ohio primary election was moved from March 17. The deadline to vote in the Ohio primary election is April 28. Voters must request an absentee ballot from their county’s board of election if they have not already voted. All absentee ballots mailed in must have a postmark of April 27 to be counted, and all ballots must be received by the boards by May 8 to be counted. Voters can drop off the ballots to board offices in person by 7:30 p.m. April 28. In-person voting will be offered on April 28, but will only occur at boards of elections early voting center and only be available for people with disabilities who require in-person voting and people who do not have a home mailing address. Local election officials say voters need to make sure they include all the required information on absentee ballot request forms and pay close attention to unsolicited request forms they get in the mail. State law allows ballots to be scanned but they cannot be tabulated until 7:30 p.m. April 28.

Two Democrats are seeking their party’s nomination March 17 for the open 6th District Ohio Senate seat long held by Republicans.

Mark Fogel and Albert Griggs Jr. are vying to represent Democrats in an effort to regain control of the seat being vacated by Peggy Lehner, who is facing term limits.

Democrats have not held the seat since 1985. But with the popular Kettering Republican stepping aside after two four-year terms - and GOP state and local leaders splitting support in a three-way primary - some see an opening this fall for the district to flip.

The seat – which pays $60,584 a year - covers multiple suburban communities, including Kettering, Huber Heights, Riverside, Centerville, Miamisburg, Miami Twp., Washington Twp., West Carrollton, Oakwood, Germantown and part of Dayton.

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Fogel, 40, of Centerville is a former Air Force officer and fighter pilot who has never run for elected office. He is a human resources manager, and serves as an adjunct faculty member at the University of Dayton. Fogel also is in the Air National Guard.

He earned a master’s degree in public policy from Harvard University, and a bachelor’s degree in behavioral sciences and leadership from the U.S. Air Force Academy.

Griggs, 70, of Huber Heights, is a retired civilian employee of the Air Force with experience managing programs in strategic planning, program management and weapons systems support. Earlier in his career, he served as a Los Angeles police officer.

Griggs lost to Lehner for this seat in the general election four years. He has since run unsuccessfully for Huber Heights mayor and in the 2018 primary for the 40th District Ohio House seat.

He has earned master’s degrees in public administration from California State University and strategic studies from Air War College, Air University. Griggs also has bachelor’s degree from Purdue University.

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The primary winner will face either Niraj Antani, Greg Robinson or Rachel Selby, who all appear on the GOP ballot this month. Both Fogel and Griggs responded to a series of questions submitted by the Dayton Daily News. They include:

•Explain why you would favor or oppose expanding Ohio’s legalization of medical marijuana to include recreation use.

Fogel: Medical marijuana research needs to accelerate and expand. It's also time to explore a reasonable pathway to eventual legalization of recreational marijuana use for adults. Our society would be better served by working alongside legitimate businesses rather than enable a criminal black market.

Griggs: I believe recreational use of marijuana should not be legalized. I grew up during the era when marijuana was an illegal drug. I'm still not sure the medical benefits of marijuana have been proven. As for recreational use, I still see it as a drug not to be used.

•Last year the Ohio legislature approved – and Gov. Mike DeWine signed – a gasoline tax increase to help fund road and bridge repairs. What tax hikes and cuts do you support and why?

Fogel: Most of us patriotically pay our taxes. Tax cuts designed to benefit the rich depress our economy and hurt the middle class. My aim is simple: make the wealthy pay their fair share, and we ensure to invest in ways that lift people up and strengthen our middle class.

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Griggs: At this time, I don't support tax hikes or cuts. I would like to see a fair tax system before I discuss hikes or cuts. (The) current system has: the top 1% paying an average of 6.5% in taxes; the middle fifth paying an average of 10.7%; and the lowest fifth paying an average of 12.3%.

•Ohio is considering legalizing sports betting. Explain why you would favor or oppose this issue.

Fogel: States across the U.S. are legalizing sports betting. In Ohio, it's a matter of time. I favor legalizing it so that we can use those proceeds to pay for our own quality schools, guarantee healthcare, and grow Ohio's economy, rather than the economy of our neighboring states.

Griggs: I'm not in favor of legalizing sports betting. I believe more thought and research need to be done on the unintended consequences of legalizing it.

•What is your position on proposed changes to background checks or other procedures for the ability for Ohioans to obtain firearms?

Fogel: Along with 90% of Ohioans, I believe that reasonable, common-sense gun safety legislation like universal background checks saves lives and protects the rights of law-abiding gun owners. As senator, I will "Do Something" rather than just offer thoughts and prayers.

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Griggs: I believe there is a consensus in our citizenry about sensible gun laws like universal backgrounds checks, no bump stocks, no clips that hold more than 15 rounds, etc. I will be the senator that organizes an "E-democracy" — the Sixth District Committee — and who will speak for the people.

•Why should voters cast ballots for you?

Fogel: In politics and lawmaking, leadership and experience matters. I am the only senate candidate with 20+ years of leadership in business, the military, and policy work. On top of that, I am a husband and father, so I know what it means to raise a family in the Miami Valley.

Griggs: I have a strong desire to have ethical and accountable government. I want to bring integrity, the concept of service before self, transparency, and accountability back to state government. I believe that any entity that is designed to represent/serve the people deserves leaders willing to work toward meaningful, common sense solutions.

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Voters who want to get their ballots in before primary Election Day on March 17 can vote absentee by mail or in person at their county board of elections offices.

The deadline to request absentee mail ballots is three days before the election, or March 14. Absentee ballots must be signed. Absentee ballots that are mailed must be postmarked by the day before the election to be counted, or they can be returned in-person at the county board of elections before polls close at 7:30 p.m. on Election Day. (Do not take the ballot to a polling place.)

Early voting hours are the same in all counties:

‒ 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays through March 6

‒ 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, March 7

‒ 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. from Monday, March 9, to Friday, March 13

‒ 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, March 14

‒ 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday, March 15

‒ 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday, March 16


We take a look at the Republicans running in Ohio’s 6th District Senate race and compare where they stand on the issues.

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