Three run in race for 43rd

Kelly Mills

Education, jobs key issues for all candidates

With some still making adjustments from the November election, the May primaries are just around the corner.

One office on the primary ballot is the state representative for the 43rd District. Two candidates, Stephen Dyer and Christopher Stoll, are running in the Democratic primary and one candidate, Christine Croce, is running unopposed in the Republican primary.

The winner in each of the Republican and Democratic races will move on to face each other in the November general election.

The 43rd District covers southern Portage and Summit counties. The term for office is two years, with a limit of four consecutive terms.

The 2006 salary for the position is $57,948, which increases annually for inflation.

All three candidates agree on what some of the major issues are in the race this year.

Stephen Dyer

Dyer said the most important issue is changing the attitude with which Ohio is facing its problems.

“We’ve got to look at our challenges and meet them head-on and fix them,” Dyer said.

He said Gov. Bob Taft’s administration has been lacking the tenacity to take on the issues with the complex solutions they deserve and it has hurt the citizens of Ohio.

“We’re one of seven states that saw our poverty rate increase in 2003 and 2004,” he said. “Bob Taft and the representatives in Columbus have approached this with a simple answer.”

Some of the major issues Dyer said are lacking in the state are education, health care, jobs and the environment.

He said issues with education and jobs have caused the state to come under tremendous pressure.

“Ohio is struggling, we’re taking hits,” Dyer said. “Working families of this state that have supported it for so long are suffering. The state government doesn’t want to do anything about it, and they’re not doing anything about it.”

Dyer hopes to tackle these issues head-on as a state representative.

Dyer and his wife, Melissa, are raising son Logan, 1. Dyer graduated from Western Reserve Academy in Hudson in 1990, Tufts University in 1994, Kent State with a master’s in 1999 and the University of Akron with a doctorate in 2004.

He said he is uniquely qualified for this office because he worked at the Akron Beacon Journal from 1997 until two months ago. Dyer said his experience uncovering the “seedy underbelly” of Ohio politics makes him the best candidate to get in and offer solutions to Ohio’s problems.

Christopher Stoll

Stoll believes education itself is the most important issue in the race. He said more Ohioans need to have a quality K-12 education and access to higher education.

“All the school districts in this house district are struggling to fund their K-12,” he said. “I don’t know what to do about it right now, but that’s my main priority.”

Stoll also believes the state needs to better support higher education funding and encourage people to attend. Although he’s not sure of the answer to the problem of higher education in the state, he would like to take office to find a way to fix it.

“If it were an easy answer, someone would have thought of it by now,” Stoll said.

Stoll said he is qualified for the office because he is the most honest candidate running.

“What you see is what you get,” he said. “I don’t have a coached answer to any issue.”

He said he hopes that throughout the campaign he can just tell constituents the truth and go into office knowing that he will be able to accomplish everything he has promised.

“I’m not putting on a mask right now that paints me in the best possible light then get elected and take off that mask,” Stoll said.

Stoll graduated from Barberton in 1995. He has attended the University of Akron and is currently at junior standing and said he hopes to return to school soon to complete his degree.

Stoll spent 18 months of the last five years in Iraq with the National Guard and is currently working as a computer systems analyst.

He and his wife, Heather Stoll, are raising their three boys, Zachary, 8, Benjamin, 3, and Nathan, 6 months.

Both Democratic candidates have lived around this area for most of their lives.

Christine Croce

Croce also said school funding is an important issue for Ohio that must be examined by the House of Representatives.

“I’d like to make sure the schools get their share of funding through the state instead of through property tax from taxpayers,” she said.

Croce also believes Ohio needs to become more competitive in offering quality jobs so the state can stop losing younger citizens to other states.

She said she would like to use her experience in public service to bring the House together to make major changes throughout the state, not just in her district.

“My experience in public safety and public service allows me to bring that to the table,” she said. “I am also able to collaborate between the different groups. You have to be able to collaborate with the different members of the House.”

Croce graduated from the University of Akron in 1989 and University of Akron Law School in 1994. She spent 1988 to 1992 working with the city of Akron’s law department and criminal division while in school.

After graduating, she spent six years as a criminal prosecutor in the Summit County Prosecutor’s Office and spent the last five years as the legal director for the Summit County Sheriff’s Office.

Contact public affairs reporter Kelly Mills at [email protected].