Two vie for Ohio Senate seat that represents most of Montgomery County

Niraj Antani and Mark Fogel

Republican Niraj Antani and Democrat Mark Fogel are running to replace outgoing state Sen. Peggy Lehner in the Ohio Senate 6th District seat, which covers about two-thirds of Montgomery County.

The term is four years and members can serve two consecutive four-year terms. 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.

The seat, held by Republicans since 1985, is being vacated by Lehner, who is facing term limits.

Donors and PACs donated a little more than $93,031 to Antani’s campaign between March 5 and June 5, according to a post primary report. Fogel’s campaign raised just over $19,163 in the same period of time.

State Rep. Antani, R-Miamisburg, 29, has represented the 42nd Ohio House District for nearly six years.

Fogel, 40, is a Centerville resident and former Air Force officer and fighter pilot who is in the Air National Guard. He is a leadership program manager at General Electric and serves as an adjunct faculty member at the University of Dayton.

Here are answers Fogel and Antani provided in response to questions posed by the Dayton Daily News:

Q: Do you support or oppose the state authority to issue public health orders to shut down businesses, schools and other activities during a pandemic?

Antani: We can combat the virus and have our economy open at the same time. The vast majority of deaths have been in nursing homes, and we still need to help them solve the problems faced in nursing homes. The state should have some, limited authority for a certain amount of time such as 30 days, but then there should be a check and balance. At the same time, we must do more to support our frontline healthcare workers such as physicians by providing them with PPE, and more.

Fogel: Support. Let’s be frank: the U.S. is unique in the world for failing to properly respond to the Covid-19 pandemic. Leaders should listen to public health experts, and playing politics at a time like this is unconscionable. We all want open businesses and schools, but the surest way to risk both lives and our economy is to rush this reopening. As a dad, the re-opening of schools is personal. I trust that our local schools, just like our businesses, are going to fully enforce mask mandates, hygiene protocols, and other smart measures in order to save lives and keep our economy afloat.

Q: Do you wear a mask in public spaces when you cannot maintain six feet of social distancing? Why or why not?

Antani: Yes, I follow the health order.

Fogel: Yes, of course I do. It’s the absolute least I can do to keep others safe.

Q: Do you support or oppose removing the ‘catch all’ language in Ohio’s child immunization laws that allow parents to opt not to have their kids vaccinated for reasons of conscience?

Antani: No. I support medical, religious and conscience exemptions.

Fogel: Vaccines are safe and effective. They are one of the singular reasons that we have conquered many debilitating diseases that have afflicted humans for centuries. The only reason any child should be exempt from vaccines is when that child is deemed to be at risk of complications from the vaccine by a healthcare provider. Of note: this is exceedingly rare. I realize that for some this is a deeply personal issue, and I understand. I also understand that many continue to believe the debunked myths that vaccines are unsafe. We must ensure that we keep each other safe, and vaccines are a proven way to do so. I will fight to keep our communities safe and healthy.

Q: Ohio and other states saw sustained demonstrations this summer against racial injustice and police brutality. Protesters called for a slate of reforms. What do you think are the most important changes we should make and where do you stand on the following reforms:

Ban or severely limit choke holds?

Antani: Yes, except when officer life is at stake

Fogel: Ban.

Ban or severely limit use of tear gas?

Antani: No

Fogel: Severely limit.

Increase police officer basic and ongoing training, particularly for de-escalation and recognizing implicit bias?

Antani: Yes

Fogel: Support.

Require independent investigations of officer-involved shootings and deaths in custody

Antani: Yes

Fogel: Support, but we must ensure law enforcement is afforded due process in any investigation.

Require centralized reporting to the state of use of force incidents

Antani: Yes

Fogel: Support

Increase transparency for officer discipline and disciplinary files

Antani: Yes

Fogel: Support, in many instances, but we must also ensure individual officers are afforded protection regarding personal information from getting released publicly.

The FBI and DOJ is charging former Ohio House speaker Larry Householder and four other men in a racketeering scheme that allegedly involved $60 million in bribes to elect Householder and pro-Householder lawmakers, make him speaker, pass House Bill 6 and defend the bailout bill from a referendum.

Q: Have you received campaign donations or any support from Friends of Larry Householder, Larry Householder, Jeff Longstreth, Neil Clark, Juan Cepedes, Matt Borges, Generation Now, FirstEnergy PAC, any other FirstEnergy sources? If so, have you or will you donate that money to charities?

Antani: All of my contributions were legally accepted.

Fogel: I’ve never received one penny of donations from anyone or anything involved in this scandal. Anyone who has, should donate to charity—it’s the ethical thing to do, and the public’s trust demands it.

Q: Have you or your campaign benefited from the work of any 501c4 organizations? If a 501c4 becomes active in your race, will you disavow its activities?

Antani: As it is not legal to coordinate with them, I have no idea.

Fogel: I’m not calling for any candidate to automatically disavow 501c4 activities in politics, and am instead calling on far greater transparency around these groups, which is why I’m endorsed by ‘End Citizens United’. I have not accepted any corporate PAC donations.

Q: Do you support or oppose repeal of HB6?

Antani: I support repealing the nuclear bailout portion of HB 6.

Fogel: I support repeal. HB6 was passed with corruption at its core. It’s both bad policy, and bad government.

Q: SB221, the governor’s Strong Ohio gun reform package, isn’t likely to pass this legislative session and will likely be re-introduced next session. Where do you stand on the basic elements of the package?

Antani: I do not support any bill that increases restrictions on the Second Amendment rights of law abiding citizens.

Fogel: Common-sense, reasonable gun safety legislation is one of my top priorities. I say this as a gun owner myself, and someone dedicated to keeping our community safe. As we all know, after the Oregon District shooting, our neighbors demanded that leaders ‘do something’. While the Governor’s gun reforms are a step in the right direction, it’s upsetting that our legislators have failed to pass this bill, not to mention failing to enact the will of the people.

We need to make sure dangerous people don’t have access to guns, so we need universal background checks for gun sales. Ohio needs ‘red flag’ laws that help keep guns out of the hands of those deemed to be an imminent threat. Unlike my opponent, I believe that people with concealed carry permits should be required to complete training, and that high schoolers should not be able to take guns to class. The latter idea is dangerous and preposterous.

I’m proud to be a Moms Demand Action Gun Sense Candidate, and be endorsed by Ohio’s Police, because they know I’ll fight for smart gun policy in Ohio.

Q: Should Ohio require background checks for ALL gun purchases, including private party sales?

Fogel: Yes.

Antani: I do not support any bill that increases restrictions on the Second Amendment rights of law abiding citizens.

Q: Should Ohio pass a red flag law that allows families and police to seek a court order to remove firearms from those deemed to be a danger to themselves or others?

Fogel: Yes.

Antani: I do not support any bill that increases restrictions on the Second Amendment rights of law abiding citizens.

Q: State lawmakers craft laws that impact open meetings and access to public records. In your public service experience, how have you worked to increase transparency?

Antani: I passed a bill that made police work body cameras videos a public record.

Fogel: As a candidate, I’ve had multiple events open to the public where I talk about the issues and take questions from the audience. To me, transparency in government is a critical element of an open and free society, and a necessary condition for a functioning democracy. Of note, my military duties are classified either Secret or Top Secret.

Q: Given the pandemic and economic crisis, state tax revenues are tumbling and the upcoming budget is expected to be very challenging. Would you vote to increase income, sales and/or business taxes to avoid drastic cuts to state programs? Why or why not?

Antani: No. I will not vote to raise taxes. Hard working Ohioans can not afford a tax increase in this trying time.

Fogel: We must fund critical programs, and I know that Ohio will need wealthy individuals and large corporations to pay their fair share. Without investing in education, healthcare, and other needs, Ohio taxpayers will eventually pay far more if we neglect our community needs.

Q: A recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling in June makes employment discrimination against LGBTQ workers illegal but it doesn’t cover housing or places of public accommodation. For more than a decade, some Ohio lawmakers have tried to pass a bill that would make discrimination in housing, employment and places of public accommodation illegal on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. The Ohio Chamber of Commerce now backs this bill. Do you support or oppose the bill?

Antani: Oppose

Fogel: I support this bill, completely. Ohio lags the nation — and our morality — around equality and equal protection. It is simply wrong. It is also terrible for our economy.

Name: Niraj Antani

Age: 29

Resides In: Miamisburg

Family: unmarried

Political Party: Republican

Political Experience: State representative for the 42nd Ohio House District for nearly six years.

Education: bachelor’s degree in political science from The Ohio State University.

Other: Member of the NRA and volunteers for Dayton Right to Life. Member of the Rotary Club of Miamisburg. Serves on the executive board of the non-profit Dayton International Festival, Inc. Chairs the Ohio Republican Party Asian Pacific American Advisory Council.

Website: www.nirajantani.com

Name: Mark Fogel

Age: 40

Resides In: Washington Twp.

Family: Married; three children

Political Party: Democratic

Political Experience: first-time candidate

Education: bachelor’s of science in Behavioral Sciences and Leadership, U.S. Air Force Academy; master’s degree in Public Policy, Harvard University.

Other: lifetime Democrat, nominated to attend US Air Force Academy by John Glenn and Tony Hall; combat flight time in Afghanistan in support of Operational Enduring Freedom; TEDx Dayton speaker 2018; member of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. Truman Project National Security Fellow, Adjunct Faculty University of Dayton

Website: www.fogelforohio.com

Watch Dayton Daily News online forum

The Dayton Daily News will host a live candidate forum at 12:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 1 on the newspaper’s Facebook page with Republican state Rep. Niraj Antani and Democratic challenger Mark Fogel. They are running for the Ohio 6th Senatorial District.

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