- Michael D. Pitman Staff Writer
The 53rd Ohio House District race is one “worth watching on Election Night” for two reasons, according to a local political expert.
Monroe Vice Mayor Suzi Rubin is an experienced candidate from the Democratic Party in a heavily Republican district, and there’s no incumbent running, said Miami University Regionals political science professor John Forren.
“The traditional advantage an incumbent would have is gone,” he said. “It’s still an uphill battle, I would think.”
Rubin is seeking to represent this district for the fourth time in as many elections, but without a popular state lawmaker to contend with — former Rep. Tim Derickson could not seek re-election due to term limits — but Republican candidate Candice Keller is seeking to fill that seat.
Keller decisively won a contested Republican primary in March despite not winning the party’s endorsement.
Keller, 57, and Rubin, 57, are implementing a similar strategy to win on Nov. 8 the 53rd Ohio House District seat: knocking on as many doors and meeting as many people within the district. The district that stretches from Monroe and Middletown to Hanover Twp. and Oxford across the northern parts of Butler County.
Keller said that’s “my favorite thing … talking with people.” She said she’s learned more about the issues knocking on doors, but is learning about the issues important to those on the political right and political left as she’s been invited to attend policy meetings by groups in Columbus.
“You learn about what their issues are, you try to help them with any issues that they may have,” said Rubin. “That is the way to win the district, I believe, and that’s talking with people one-on-one.”
Rubin’s currently Monroe’s Vice Mayor and said a big part of her focus in Columbus will be addressing education, and specifically school funding which was first deemed unconstitutional in 1997 by the Ohio Supreme Court. She developed a passion to make change in school funding ever since she was on the ground level to help create the Monroe Local School District.
“I learned a lot about how government works and how it doesn’t work,” she said. “I learned about how bad school funding is and I wanted to fix it ever since — it’s been declared unconstitutional four times by the Ohio Supreme Court.”
And Rubin said “no one seems to be doing anything about it” so she wants “to fix it for the next generation. It’s part of giving back.”
Keller, a former teacher is also focused on educational issues, but is also involved interested in addressing health issues and helping small business owners as she grew up on a hay farm operated by her dad, J.C. Fletcher.
“I just care about my people in my district and the issues they’re dealing with,” said the Community Pregnancy Center executive director.
She said the economic success of the district, and the state, is dependent the success of business and specifically small businesses, but the “tsunami that’s hit the Midwest” is the heroin epidemic and it’s hit Ohio hard.