Candidates make campaign pitches at Miami Regionals forum

Twelfth District Court of Appeals Judge candidate Mary Lynne Birck talks with Butler County Probabte Judge candidate Heather Cady ahead of the Miami Regionals candidates forum at the Miami Hamilton Downtown center on Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020. MICHAEL D. PITMAN/STAFF
Twelfth District Court of Appeals Judge candidate Mary Lynne Birck talks with Butler County Probabte Judge candidate Heather Cady ahead of the Miami Regionals candidates forum at the Miami Hamilton Downtown center on Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020. MICHAEL D. PITMAN/STAFF

Middletown teenager Ishmael Ar-Razi found it interesting that many of those at Miami Regionals’ candidates forum were business owners.

Though the 17-year-old was at the Miami Hamilton Downtown center in Hamilton for his mom, Michelle Novak, who is a Democratic candidate for the 53rd Ohio House District, he noticed many of the candidates have something in common.

“It was really interesting to see how many of them are business owners,” said Ar-Razi, who will be able to vote for partisan nomination races in the March 17 primary as he’ll be 18 before the Nov. 3 general election.

“My mom didn’t mention, but she’s a business owner too, and that makes probably over half of them business owners.”

MORE POLITICS: Ohio Senate candidates to debate on Thursday in Hamilton

Ohioans have until Tuesday to register to vote before early voting for the March 17 primary begins Wednesday.

Registration can be done at the Butler County Board of Elections, 1802 Princeton Road, or online at MyOhioVote.com, and early voting will happen by mail or at the elections office.

The March primary will be Republican-heavy with six contested GOP nomination races, which include two contested judicial and three Statehouse races. On the Democrat side, there will be two contested nomination races, for president and 8th Congressional District.

Many of the candidates at the forum Tuesday were in races that are uncontested.

There were a few people hoping to see Ohio Senate District candidate Lee Wong, but the West Chester Twp. trustee was at a township board meeting Tuesday night. But Fran and Gene Ellerman said it was “nice to put a face to a name” to some of the other candidates “and here a little bit more about what they want to do for us.”

Wong is running against Ohio Reps. Candice Keller, who did not attend, and George Lang, who did attend, for the Republican nomination. The winning Republican will face Democrat Kathy Wyenandt in November.

Chuck Horn, a Kettering native and West Chester Twp. resident, will be the Democrat’s nominee for the 52nd Ohio House District seat. The two Republicans seeking the nomination, West Chester Twp. Trustee Mark Welch and Air Force veteran Jennifer Gross, did not attend due to conflicts.

Horn said he “was content to sit on the sidelines” and now “doing nothing is no longer an option.”

“Since 2000, I’ve seen a deterioration and erosion of common values that we share as a society,” he said. Schools, health care, safety and economic security “are increasingly at risk,” Horn said.

Three out of the four 53rd Ohio House District candidates attended Tuesday’s forum, which featured a meet-and-greet.

Madison Twp. Trustee Thomas Hall touted his work ethic to the few dozen attendees, saying he graduated from Miami University debt-free while working two jobs — one of which was his elected position.

“I have worked hard and I have a proven fiscally conservative record,” Hall said. “I have stood up for the values that we share as Republicans and look forward to taking my message to the voters.”

Monroe School Board member Brett Guido, a Republican seeking the 53rd District GOP nomination talked about his 11 years as an elected official and lengthy business experience.

He said Butler County’s economy is “amazing” and many businesses have moved to the county, but a better job needs to be done in supplying a quality workforce and training of that workforce.

“If we don’t, the businesses are going to leave and more importantly, new businesses aren’t going to come,” he said.

Novak, a business consultant for nonprofits and grant writer, said she wants to use her skills and experience in business, planning and community advocacy “to unlock the infinite potential” of people in the 53rd Ohio House District.

“And I pray to be able to continue that work to support you our hard-working families,” she said.

The third Republican in the 53rd House District race is Diane Mullins and did not attend the forum.

OHIO SENATE FORUM

Tonight, candidates for the 4th Ohio Senate District will answer questions at the Benison Event Center in downtown Hamilton. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. and the forum begins at 6 p.m.

The 4th Ohio Senate District represents most of Butler County and the race pits three Republicans seeking the GOP nomination. The winning Republican will face off with Democrat Kathy Wyenandt in the November general election.

Republican candidates Ohio Rep. George Lang and West Chester Twp. Trustee Lee Wong will attend, as will Wyenandt. Republican Ohio Rep. Candice Keller declined to participate due to a scheduling conflict.