Candidates discuss local, state issues

Aman Ali and John Oberlin

Saving voters’ money is a primary concern for candidates running for Portage County Commissioner and State Representative.

About 75 people attended a debate Saturday, sponsored by the League of Women Voters, at the United Methodist Church in Kent. The debate featured Portage County Commissioner candidates Meg Hudson, Chuck Keiper and John Thomas and State Representative candidates Kathleen Chandler and Bill Davis.

Portage County Commissioner

Keiper, the Democratic incumbent in the commissioner race, said his top three priorities as commissioner have been “water, water and water.” He said he’s helped clean up the Cuyahoga River and improve the county’s sewage system since he first took office in 1993.

“I wrote the policies to help fix that,” Keiper said. “If the problems of our government were a mountain, I inherited Mount St. Helens.”

Meg Hudson, his Republican challenger, suggested a “Shop Portage County” campaign that would organize local advertisers and businesses to urge people to shop within the county.

John Thomas, the independent in the race, wanted to divest assets, like money, from the county-owned properties, and put that money into the county’s general fund. He also wanted to see more transparency in county government by holding more public meetings throughout the year.

Ohio Representative

Democratic incumbent Kathleen Chandler and her challenger Bill Davis had different approaches to serving Ohio’s 68th district, which covers cities such as Kent, Ravenna and Streetsboro.

Chandler said voters need to refocus their concerns this election season.

“There has been so much focus on investment scandals in Columbus that many issues facing Ohioans have not been addressed,” Chandler said. “It’s critical that we adequately fund education.”

Bill Davis, a Ravenna businessman who described himself as an “independent Republican,” said he’d like to restructure Ohio’s funding for education.

“I want to submit a proposal to abolish property taxes that fund education,” Davis said. “By changing funding, you’ll have more money available for education because everyone is paying for it.”

He said an alternative tax, such as a sales tax, would ease financial burdens on taxpayers.

Contact public affairs reporters Aman Ali at [email protected] and John Oberlin at [email protected].