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VOTE411 Voter Guide

Ohio House District 79

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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  • Kyle Koehler
    (Rep)

  • Cynthia Richards
    (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?

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Education Ph,D. English and American Literature, New York University B.A. Brown University Honors English
Training and Experience I have taught at Wittenberg University for 25 years, winning numerous teaching awards. I am a Fulbright scholar and have published numerous articles in my field. My current book focuses on historical trauma. In addition to my teaching and scholarship, I have held several administrative positions at my university that provided experience in management and policy-making. I served as the chair of my department and directed the writing and faculty development programs. I volunteer in my community.
Our current system engages in soft voter suppression even during the best of times. But during this pandemic, that suppression has been exposed. I would change the system by first changing how we register to vote, facilitating that process by allowing registration when one renews one's driving license. for example. I would also improve our absentee and mail-in voting by allowing on-line application, proving postage, and increasing the number of drop boxes in a county. Early voting has proven beneficial for voters and I would continue to expand the time period where early voting can occur. We should also ensure that are traceable paper ballots for voting given the potential for technical problem, computer hacking, and possible fraud. We also need to make sure that our postal service is funded so that ballots can arrive on time.
When a local government acts illegally, it is appropriate for the state to restrain it. This is particular true if civil rights are being violated on the local level and protections are needed based on race, gender, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, among other factors. The state can also act when a local government's actions are affecting other communities and other local governments. For example, the state can impose a mask mandate to curb transmission of COVID-19 if local governments are not doing so . This is because these actions impact the health and safety of other communities. Such state mandates might also include actions that impact water quality and other basic needs.
I would transition from locally funded to state funded public education. The current system based on local property taxes creates inherent inequities in funding, and over time compounds those inequities. I would disconnect the funding of private schools from the funding for public schools. Currently, funding is subtracted from a district when a student opts out. This makes it difficult to budget and in effect punishes public schools for private decisions. Finally, I would disconnect funding from test performance and instead base funding on what is needed to achieve student outcomes in a district. Moreover, testing favors only one type of learning and does not acknowledge different learning styles and needs, and tends to favor students in rich districts that can afford tutoring and test preparation. We need a measure of school performance that is project based and measures progress toward learning outcomes.
I support the Ohio voters' decision to create bi-partisan, independent commissions to draw districts. I would rely on science-based studies that show how these districts can be drawn to empower all voters in those districts equally. I have already signed the fair districting pledge that commits me to these equitable principles and practices. I believe all votes matter, and oppose gerrymandering and other tactics that makes some votes matter more than others.
I strongly support efforts to protect our water, air, and land, and am on the Steering Committee of People for Safe Water, which has worked to protect the water supply in Clark County from contamination by a landfill. I have also worked with Citizens against Mining to advocate for protections from limestone mining that can impact water supply and quality in rural parts of my county. I believe that legislators should be long-term thinkers who safeguard the future for our children. In respect to climate change, that means moving away from our dependence on fossil fuels and moving toward green energies, such as solar and wind. Ohio is well positioned to be a leader in both these industries. To safeguard the economic well being of our communities, we need to ensure that this transition happens gradually and with a eye to minimizing economic impact on areas already hit hard by unemployment. But if we do not protect our water, air, and land, we can not ensure a good future for our children.
I support common sense gun legislation that provides protections from those that pose a threat to others and themselves. This includes universal background checks and red flag laws. I also support protections for minors such as locking up a gun in the home. I am opposed to stand your ground laws and the loosening of concealed carry restrictions that would eliminate licensing and training, and would extend concealed carry to semi-automatic weapons. I believe that the AK-47 is a weapon of war, and should not pose a threat to our children and to our communities. I would support a ban on this weapon given how lethal it is and how often it is used in mass shootings. I also see gun violence as a public health epidemic and as such we need to address root causes such lack of access to good jobs, strong schools, affordable housing, affordable health care, nutritious good, and reliable transportation, among other social determinants. People in my community deserve safer communities.
I support reproductive justice, and believe all women regardless of income or background should have access to reproductive care, including comprehensive birth control. Women should have autonomy over their bodies, and that includes providing them them the choice to have children or not have children. Women's health also requires access to prenatal care and to regular check ups and quality, affordable health care. Because of this commitment to women's health and women's autonomy, I have volunteered my time with Planned Parenthood and serve on the board of Planned Parenthood Southwest Ohio. This organization provides quality, affordable health care to women regardless of need, and ensures that all women have access to comprehensive birth control, including safe and legal abortions. I also fight for women's health by serving on the board of the local federally funded clinic in my community.