Turner facing Roberts in congressional race

Joe Roberts, 25

Political Party: Democrat

Professional: President J. Roberts and Associates, a political consulting company; former licensed investment representative.

Education: Attended Wright State University, the University of Alaska and Sinclair Community College.

Website: www.robertsforohio.com

Mike Turner, 50

Political Party: Republican

Professional: Member - U.S. House of Representatives 2003 to present; mayor of Dayton, 1994-2002.

Education: Bachelor of Arts, Ohio Northern University, 1982; Juris doctorate, Case Western Reserve University, 1985; Master of Business Administration, University of Dayton, 1992.

Website: www.miketurner.com

DAYTON — U.S. Rep. Mike Turner, R-Centerville, faces a first-time candidate in the race for the 3rd Congressional District seat Turner has held since 2003.

The district, includes all or parts of Montgomery, Warren, Clinton and Highland counties. The term is two years and the job pays $174,000 annually.

Here’s a look at each candidate:

Joe Roberts

Roberts has struggled to raise money, but believes he can bring a fresh perspective and understanding of regular people that he said is lacking in Turner.

“I think he’s failed the country even more than the district,” said Roberts of Kettering.

He uses as an example Turner’s “no” vote on the recently passed jobs bill that gives businesses tax breaks and other incentives.

“Obviously I think it’s completely unacceptable to vote no on any jobs package that would stimulate our economy in these uncertain times,” Roberts said.

Roberts is a political consultant who has traveled to Alaska and California to work on campaigns for Democratic candidates and issues such as immigration reform.

He is on a break from that during the campaign. Roberts said he and his wife, a college student, are living off savings and her part-time job. He said they are learning firsthand how hard it is to make ends meet.

“It’s getting tough,” said Roberts. “It’s very tough for regular people to run for office.”

He said he’s signed a pledge to not accept corporate contributions, which earned him an endorsement from MoveOn.org, a progressive public advocacy group.

Roberts said he understands the needs of regular people far better than Turner, who he paints as out of touch with his district and its needs.

“People are upset and angry and they have a right to be. And they are sick of people giving them platitudes, saying what they think they want to hear,” said Roberts. “Regular people need relief.”

Roberts said he would extend middle class tax cuts for five years, while allowing the tax cuts to expire Dec. 31 for annual incomes of more than $200,000 for individuals and $250,000 for couples.

“There is a growing inequity between the richest Americans and the poorest Americans,” Roberts said. “And the middle class is feeling the worst of it. They’re being squeezed.”

Roberts criticized Turner’s votes against health care reform and against the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, which would provide additional health services to the 9/11 first responders.

“It would have paid for health care for people who were heroes in our country,” Roberts said of the bill, which passed the House and is pending in the Senate.

Roberts said he likely would have voted for the health care reform bill, but believes it does not go far enough. He supports a public option and comprehensive reform of the health care system.

Roberts also supports the stimulus bill, but said it should be easier for organizations and government programs needing money to apply for it. He supports working with counties to earmark unspent stimulus money for economic development projects.

He wants a comprehensive jobs bill that would give additional incentives for businesses to hire workers and for the government to pressure banks to free up credit for investment.

Roberts said a key issue for him is immigration reform and he calls for a combination of securing the borders and providing an easier path to citizenship for immigrants. That would free the government to focus on fighting illegal drugs and guns at the border, which Roberts believes is the real problem.

Roberts has called for the House Ethics Committee and U.S. Department of Justice to investigate allegations by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington over the award of a $300,000 no-bid contract to a company headed by Turner’s wife. On Wednesday the group named Turner to its list of 26 “most corrupt” lawmakers.

Turner called it a “politically motivated attack.”

The Dayton Daily News in 2008 reported on the no-bid contract awarded to The Turner Effect by the Dayton Development Coalition. The coalition lobbies members of Congress, including Turner, for federal money for the region. Lori Turner, president of The Turner Effect, voluntarily withdrew from the contract for marketing services after the stories were published.

Mike Turner

In each campaign Turner emphasizes his advocacy for Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and efforts to keep intact base missions and gain new ones.

If re-elected, Turner said his work on the Armed Services Committee will be his top priority along with “continuing to support Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.”

“I certainly have taken my role on the Armed Services Committee very, very seriously,” said Turner, adding that he is the ranking member of the Strategic Forces subcommittee.

Turner cites his recent efforts to help thwart the Alabama delegation’s effort to shift WPAFB’s National Air and Space Intelligence Center to the Alabama-based Missile and Space Intelligence Center.

Turner contends that the base will not be hurt by his decision to go along with other Republicans on a one-year moratorium on asking for congressional earmarks. He co-sponsored a bill, now in committee, to reform the earmarking process.

Turner is proudest of his success with legislation to help sexual assault victims in the military.

He also has tried to get congressional approval of a bill to keep soldiers from permanently losing custody of children when they are deployed. That bill has passed the House but not the Senate.

This term, Turner introduced the Preserving Capitalism in America Amendment, which would amend the constitution to forbid bailouts of the auto industry such as the one done as part of the Troubled Asset Relief Program, known as TARP. His amendment was referred to a subcommittee.

Turner opposed TARP, which bailed out banks and the auto industry and expired this month.

Government estimates say TARP will cost a fraction of the $700 billion authorized by Congress and it is credited by the Obama Administration and economists for stabilizing the financial sector and averting a worse financial meltdown.

Turner said he still considers Congress to have been “irresponsible” for approving TARP.

Turner also opposed the stimulus bill, known as American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. He said he opposed the jobs bill last month because “this is a continuation of the government-spending philosophy that has prevailed in Washington under the Obama Administration.”

“First off I did not vote for this $800 billion stimulus package and the president’s continued call for deficit spending as his strategy to create jobs rather than looking for ways to support business and economic expansion,” said Turner.

He disagrees with economists such as Mark Zandi, chief economist for Moody Analytics, who say the stimulus saved the economy from a far worse crash.

Turner said he supports the Republican Pledge to America, released last month by House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-West Chester Twp., which called for tax cuts, spending cuts and congressional reform.

Turner said tax cuts should be extended to everyone, including the wealthy, rather than allowed to expire at the end of the year as called for under the law.

“We are in very difficult economic times. This is the wrong time to raise taxes,” Turner said.

He said the trade and budget deficits are the two things wrong with the economy and he wants the government to control spending.

“The government ought to live within its means,” Turner said.

“I think John Boehner’s proposal of pulling back spending to 2008 levels is certainly an excellent start,” Turner said. “And the president is going to have to come to the table. He has a commission that is supposed to make recommendations. We’ll take a look at what those are.”

He would not specify what areas he would cut to make that happen but he said he doubts there is anything in the military that could be cut. He argues that there are other ways to cut the budget without reducing Medicaid, Medicare or Social Security, which along with the military make up the bulk of the federal budget.

“If we are going to return our economy to job production we are going to have to reduce spending,” said Turner. “We are going to have to do that in ways that are smart, that preserves our national security, that sustains our promise to our seniors and that ensures we take care of the important issues of our infrastructure.”

Contact this reporter at (937) 225-7455 or lhulsey@DaytonDailyNews.com.

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