Candidates agree: Nov. 3 election will impact 53rd House district, state for years to come

Butler County voters will be able to cast ballots on Oct. 6 at the county board of elections. Ballots requested by mail ahead of the start of early voting will also be sent to voters on Oct. 6. NICK GRAHAM/FILE

MIDDLETOWN ― The two candidates running for the open 53rd Ohio House District seat both believe this Statehouse race will impact district residents for years to come.

Middletown School Board member Michelle Novak and Madison Twp. Trustee Thomas Hall are seeking to succeed Rep. Candice Keller, R-Middletown. While the presidential election is front of mind for many voters, Novak and Hall say those elected to the Statehouse will determine Ohio’s direction.

“I believe this election decides the future of this district, of this state and of this country," Hall said. “This election is not about the candidates anymore. This election is about the beliefs and the values of each candidate. The direction of the country depends on where you want to go, and in my race, you could pick one of two totally different people."

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Middletown School Board member Michelle Novak, left, and Madison Twp. Trustee Thomas Hall are competing to win the 53rd Ohio House District seat in the Nov. 3, 2020, general election. Incumbent Rep. Candice Keller chose not to run for re-election and lost her bid for an Ohio Senate seat. PROVIDED

Credit: pROVIDED

Credit: pROVIDED

Novak said she would like people to recognize “the impact these Statehouse races are going to have in their lives, and what it’s going to mean for at least the next 10 years."

“It’s important that voters understand who it is that’s running, and they go into the polls informed and are making informed decisions,” she said.

The Nov. 3 election is less than five weeks away, and early voting in Ohio starts Tuesday. Voter registration, which can be done online, ends Monday. Hall and Novak will debate Tuesday in an online forum presented by Miami University, the Journal-News and the League of Women Voters of Oxford. To register to watch, visit tinyurl.com/Ohio53HouseDebate.

Hall has several items on his legislative agendas, the first related to the economy as the state continues to recover from the COVID-19 virus pandemic as “working with our small businesses to see what we can do to get their businesses back."

He also wants to ensure laws, where applicable are “protective of life.”

The third of his top three legislative efforts would be to address school funding.

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“That’s going to be a hot topic,” Hall said, specifically surrounding EdChoice, which provides, among other things, students from designated public schools a chance to attend a participating private school. “(The EdChoice) issue is going to come back up because they never fixed it.”

Hall has been meeting with all the school districts to “gain a better understanding of where each school district is ... and formulating an opinion.”

Novak said her frustration with school funding and accountability is one of the primary reasons she entered the race. On school funding, she said the state legislature has “kicked the ball downfield, and it’s going to catch up to us again.”

“I like that they started talking about,” she said referring to House Bill 305, the school funding overhaul legislation. “There are issues with school funding that you know that go back to the late 1990s. I think it’s about time we do something about it.”

But Novak said she’s not a one-issue candidate, saying community issues are inter-connected.

“We’re all impacted by the opioid epidemic, we’re all impacted by the poverty in our communities, we’re impacted by crime, and the health of our community in general,” she said. “It’s important to look at it all holistically and see the big picture instead of taking the issues apart into silos and just addressing one.”

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