PORTSMOUTH, Ohio – Candidates running for Ohio District 90 State Representative fielded questions at a candidate forum in Portsmouth, Ohio on Wednesday.
The seat, which is currently held by Republican Terry Johnson, will be vacated at the end of the year and covers Adams County, Scioto County, and a portion of Lawrence County. Six candidates are running for the soon-to-be-open seat.
Those running on the Republican side are Brian Baldridge, Gina Collinsworth, Justin Pizzulli and Scottie Powell while Adrienne Buckler and Joni Fearing are running on the Democratic side.
Below are some of the issues addressed at the forum.
Issue 2 was voted down the last election. How would you tackle rising healthcare costs in the area?
Baldridge said that medical costs are a huge issue for the district.
“We have to make health care a priority for this district,” Baldridge said. “We have to see how we can bring those costs down and save people money.”
Fearing said healthcare costs is something dear to her heart as both her parents fought cancer.
“I know that when someone is diagnosed with an illness we don’t want to have to fight with insurance companies or worry about costs.”
Fearing said she thought Issue 2, a ballot initiative that was voted down 79% to 21% was a good idea. Issue 2 would have required state agencies and programs to purchase prescription drugs at prices no higher than what the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs pays for them.
“I think universal healthcare is the way,” Fearing said. “Everybody deserves healthcare.”
Powell said that the issue with Issue Two was that it was just cost shifting.
“We have to tackle why we are allowing this MCO to cover such medication and this MCO not to,” Powell said. “It’s a bigger issue than just saying cost shifting. We have a lack of transparency in healthcare in general.”
Collinsworth said that the great thing about America is that everyone comes together to help each other, and healthcare is no different.
“I think we can come together and find out why you can go to Canada and pay less for the same drug than you do in the U.S.,” Collinsworth said. “I don’t have the answer, but I want to find out.”
How would you approach gun control measures and student safety?
Buckler said that even though she is a Democrat she is against taking guns away from people.
“I can recognize that there are times when we are in danger when bad people get a hold of guns,” Buckler said. “I think that common sense gun laws are a good thing. Security in schools is a good thing.”
Buckler said she does not support arming teachers. She said she supports making sure background checks are done properly.
Pizzulli said he does not support any kind of gun ban.
“It’s not a gun issue. It’s a mental health and family issue,” Pizzulli.
Pizzulli said that extra circulars and communities can help deter school violence.
“We need to listen more to our teachers on the ground,” Pizzulli said. “When teachers see something is wrong law enforcement needs to act.”
Pizzulli said that it is obvious that mass shootings only happen in gun free zones.
Baldridge said he supports the second amendment.
“This issue comes down to a mental health issue,” Baldridge said. “We need to make sure we focus in on students who need our help.”
Baldridge said he also supports looking at local school districts and giving them everything they need to keep students safe.
Fearing said she doesn’t think assault rifles need to be in civilian hands.
“It’s too much. There are too many people who have been killed in schools, theaters and houses,” Fearing said. “If our kids march out of our schools in March, I will be there with them.”
Fearing said parents should not have to worry every time they put their children on a bus. She said that she believes in the Bill of Rights, but that there are always limits.
“You can’t yell ‘fire’ in a crowded movie theater,” Fearing said. “There are always limits.”
How will Ohio help students affected by the closing of the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT)?
Powell said that you could argue that ECOT was doing a good job.
“They were serving kids who were bullied, who were pregnant or who may not have been doing well in the classroom,” Powell said. “Now here we are with these 12,000 kids who are displaced.”
Powell said he supports school choice but that there need to be standards.
“The problem with charter schools right now is they’re worried about their management fee,” Powell said. “We have to make sure charter schools are really there to help educate our children.”
Collinsworth said that it is an accountability issue.
“I think charter schools offer an alternative to students who may not fit into the square hole,” Collinsworth said. “If we want a level playing field here in Southern Ohio, we need to look into alternatives and help the kids out there who need to learn.”
Buckler said she thinks there is a funding issue with public schools.
“Charter schools get over one billion dollars’ worth of funding and our public schools don’t,” Buckler said. “I think charter schools can be a good idea but I think the public school situation is more of an issue in our area.”
Pizzulli said he stands with ECOT teachers.
“I think how they handled that was ridiculous,” Pizzulli said. “They should have waited until the end of the school year.”
Pizzulli said he understands the funding issues with public schools and also said he believed trade schools are just as important as universities.
The forum was sponsored by Friends of Portsmouth. For video of the full candidate forum, visit Friends of Portsmouth on Facebook.