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VOTE411 Voter Guide

Ohio House District 55

Salary: $60,584* Term Limit: 2 yrsResponsibilities: To represent the people of the district and the State of Ohio in dealing with matters not allocated to the federal government. *Base salary.

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  • Candidate picture

    Gayle Manning
    (Rep)

  • Candidate picture

    Zach Stepp
    (Dem)

Biographical Information

In what ways would you change our election system in order to be prepared for crises that impair the right to vote?

Under what circumstances is it appropriate for the state to restrain or check local government?

How would you implement a constitutionally compliant school funding system?

What will you do to combat gerrymandering and ensure that voter-approved redistricting reforms are implemented?

Where do you stand on efforts to protect our water, air, and land? Include how you would address climate change.

Where do you stand on gun safety measures?

Where do you stand on women’s reproductive rights and health?

Twitter @GAYLEMANNINGOH
Education Graduate of Brookside High School; BS Kent State University; Masters, University of Akron
Training and Experience Retired teacher, 37 years; North Ridgeville Planning Commision; North Ridgeville City Council; State Senate, 13th District
Increased access and the elimination of dark money’s corrupting influence are vital to protecting the right to vote from any crisis. I am currently sponsoring legislation that would make voter registration an automated process in Ohio and I strongly believe that this change will ensure that a crisis does not impair the right to vote by creating unnecessary obstacles for those seeking to register to vote. This is especially true for those whose personal situations make it difficult, if not impossible, for them to register under our current system. I am also sponsoring legislation that would modify campaign finance laws to defend our elections process from the undemocratic impact of PACs and dark money independent expenditures. The right to vote is just as impaired by ill-intentioned PACs and independent expenditures as it is by difficult registration requirements and I am working to fight this to ensure that Ohio is a model for elections integrity and voter access.
Having served as both a local councilwoman and a state-level elected official, I strongly believe that this type of issue calls for a balancing approach. Local governments, generally speaking, should have the flexibility to control those matters that directly and distinctly impact their citizens. That being said, when the actions of a local government would have impacts for those outside of the local area—those who have no say in the election of local officials—then we ought to have a conversation about what checks may be appropriate to ensure that everyone’s interests are best represented. No matter what the end balance ultimately looks like, it is vital that the process of getting there involve bringing all stakeholders to the table to make sure that everyone has an opportunity to voice their ideas and concerns.
As a former elementary school teacher for 37 years, a compliant school funding system is near and dear to me. Right now, I am co-sponsoring a bill that will revamp Ohio’s school funding process to make it more efficient and responsive to the needs of each district. The bill I am working on is designed to tailor and update the formula to change how foundation funding is calculated, to better direct targeted assistance to districts, and to better account for factors such as economic disadvantage, special education needs, and other considerations. As a part of this process, I am working closely with our local superintendents and frequently speak with local educators to get their thoughts on how these changes will impact them.
In the last General Assembly, I supported a joint resolution that established a new process for redistricting in Ohio. This bipartisan resolution created a system in which a full 10-year map can only be approved by a 60% vote that includes “yes” votes by 50% of the minority party. If the legislature cannot achieve this, then a bipartisan redistricting commission attempts to draw a map and if it, too, cannot do so, then the legislature gets one more chance. Otherwise, any approved map can only last for four years. Additionally, the resolution limited how counties and other municipalities can be split. Given the importance of the electoral process, input from voters is critical and I believe it is the duty of every elected official to listen to voters and to ensure that any redistricting plans reflect and address their concerns in good faith.
As a mother and a grandmother, it is important to me that we protect our natural resources for future generations and that’s why I’m proud to be endorsed by the Ohio Environmental Council. I am co-sponsoring legislation that will help protect our water by creating a program in Ohio to replace service lines that contain lead and have previously supported measures which would have allowed our state to issue bonds as a way of financing clean water improvements. I have also supported legislation that made millions of dollars available for various projects designed to reduce phosphorous and other contaminants in the Lake Erie Basin. While the federal regulatory regime imposes certain limitations on what we can do on the state-level in Ohio, I generally support measures that will address climate change and issues by supporting clean up efforts and ensuring that any state-sanctioned actions do not impair the use and enjoyment of the outstanding natural resources we have here in Ohio.
I believe that there are common sense safety measures that we can implement in our state that properly balance the right of individuals to own firearms with the need to protect people from their misuse and abuse. Having been a teacher, I saw firsthand how violent tendencies in students—who grow into adults—resulted from social isolation, bullying, dangerous home environments, and unaddressed mental health issues. In order to prevent gun violence in the first place, I have sponsored legislation which requires that all middle and high school students in Ohio be educated on how to identify early warning signs and on how to take positive actions to prevent those warning signs from developing into active violence. In the wake of numerous shootings in our state and around the country, I also have been actively speaking with stakeholders in our communities about proposed reforms and other ideas that they may have to reduce gun violence.
I pride myself on listening to experts on both sides of the issue, as well as the people in my district before casting these difficult votes. Women’s reproductive rights and health go beyond just the issue of abortion and as such I was proud to co-sponsor legislation that helped to give pregnant women priority access to state-supported addiction treatments and which required certain healthcare professionals to encourage addicted pregnant women to take advantage of such programs. It is important to me to find ways to preserve the autonomy to decide those issues which are most personal to a woman, but also to take steps to encourage and support healthy decisions and actions that will lead to long-term success and opportunity for all Ohio women.
Twitter @ZachSteppOH
Education Saint Ignatius High School University of Chicago, B.A.
Training and Experience As a public sector consultant, I am trained to use data analytics to solve problems for government clients. I have analyzed budgets in excess of $50b and have worked with numerous clients in the federal government to optimize procurement operations. I've managed campaigns, restaurants, and large volunteer driven organizations. Most recently, I served as the campaign manager for a US Congressional campaign with a budget of nearly $700,000.
The legislature ought to be making it easier, not harder to vote. Consistent, reliable access to the ballot box will make our state more prepared for crises, such as the COVID-19 pandemic. I support Ohio joining other states that have implemented automated voter registration such that when residents complete paperwork in high schools and at DMVs across the state, there is an 'opt-out' (as opposed to an opt-in) process. This would increase voter registration across the state and limit the number of hoops individuals have to jump through to access their ballot.

I also believe eligible voters ought to be able to request absentee ballots online, and there ought to have absentee ballot drop boxes in cities across Lorain County. These basic improvements to election administration would make it more convenient access to a ballot and would modernize our process of requesting absentee ballots. I believe these changes would also make it safer to vote in a pandemic.
I believe mayors, city councils, local boards of education should be empowered to make decisions for their own communities. In recent years, we have seen the state repeatedly overstep by gutting the local government funds, restricting environmental reforms (i.e. plastic bag bans), and performing state takeovers of public school districts. I would vigorously oppose these state interventions.

That being said, I believe it is appropriate for the state to check and potentially restrain local governments when Ohioans' rights are being infringed upon. For example, discrimination of any kind has no place in Ohio, which is why I support the Ohio Fairness Act.
I believe the Cupp-Patterson proposal moves us closer to a constitutionally compliant school funding system. The proposal lays out a comprehensive ‘cost-per-pupil’ method of funding and allocates those costs between local taxes and state taxes depending on the wealth of school districts (in terms of property and income). Still, while it moves us in the right direction, it is a flawed, as it was crafted to muster enough tacit approval from a supermajority of legislators unwilling to commit themselves to the success of our public schools.

I believe we need a school funding system that keeps public dollars in public schools. The ‘Cupp-Patterson proposal’ keeps the current privatization/voucher model in place. The proposal also does not sufficiently fund economically disadvantaged school districts and non English learners. Instead, the proposal commissions a study to see how much more it costs to educate kids in poverty. In the meantime, it offers nominal extra funding.
Simply put, I will commit to never participating in a partisan gerrymandering process. My opponent was in the bunker when these current maps were drawn and even gave street by street recommendations for cutting her own home town into multiple congressional districts (read: https://www.cleveland.com/datacentral/2017/11/emails_documents_disclose_ohio.html). She cannot be trusted to draw fair districts.

I will work across the aisle to get districts that are fair and put pressure on the majority party to negotiate in good faith. If we do not pass a bipartisan map, the maps will only be in place for 6 years, which means we'll have two cycles to vote out politicians that support gerrymandering. We must have more balance between Rs and Ds in Columbus so that one party doesn't have overwhelming power over the process, which is why I'm running to flip this district.
I strongly oppose efforts to roll back environmental regulations and incentives for investing in green energy. Specifically, I support a full repeal HB6, which gutted green energy standards and incentives. I am proud to be supported by organizations—such as the Sierra Club—that are committed to protecting our water, air, and land.

I support current efforts to clean up Lake Erie (specifically H2Ohio) and would support enforcement of regulations intended to protect our waterways. Nearly half of Ohio's waterways to not meet the fishable, swimmable, and drinkable standards required by the Clean Water and Safe Drinking Water Acts. I would introduce and support legislation to improve conditions for our waterways to protect local economies and our children's health.
I support common-sense gun safety laws that prevent criminals or children from having access to firearms. Specifically, I support safe gun storage laws that require a gun to be safely stored or locked to prevent a weapon from being stolen or accessed by a child. I also support background checks on all gun sales to prevent sales to convicted domestic violence offenders and/or convicted felons.

I will consider each gun safety proposal one by one to ensure that we protect lawful citizens' right to bear arms but also take action to protect Ohioans from preventable gun deaths.
I believe abortion should be safe, legal, and rare. I trust women to make their own healthcare decisions with their doctors and do not believe the state, federal, or even local government should have influence in the matter. I oppose restrictions that put significant barriers on access to care.