Pictured are the candidates for the 53rd Ohio House District race. From left (clockwise( are Monroe School Board member Brett Guido, Madison Twp. Thomas Hall, Middletown School Board member Michelle Novak and Calvery Church pastor Diane Mullins. PHOTOS PROVIDED

Election 2020: A school board member, trustee and pastor face off for Statehouse nomination

Three people in the GOP are seeking to succeed incumbent Rep. Candice Keller, R-Middletown, who’s bypassing a re-election bid to run for Ohio Senate. Monroe School Board member Brett Guido, Madison Twp. Thomas Hall and Calvary Church pastor Diane Mullins are seeking to be the party’s nominee for the November general election.

In November, the winning Republican will face Middletown school board member and Democrat Michelle Novak, who’s running because leaders are needed “who focus on the issues that most of us are dealing with every day, like finding jobs to support our families, having access to the health care services that we need, and supporting our children so they can have a better future.”

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Hall and Mullins both say two of their top objectives are protecting life and 2nd Amendment rights. But Hall wants to restore the local government funds slashed in former Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s first biennium budget. Mullins wants to protect jobs in Ohio.

Guido, who works in the mortgage lending industry, said he’ll focus on school funding, homeownership and workforce development.

“I have worked extensively with local leaders in Butler County and with legislators in Columbus and Washington, D.C., to bring the necessary funding and resources to Southwest Ohio that will help provide a trained and qualified workforce,” he said. “We have done a great job of attracting businesses to Ohio, but if we do not provide the skilled workforce that they will require, they will be less likely to come here, and even worse, they could leave.”

School funding is what got Guido into politics.

“We keep revisiting the same discussions statewide,” he said. “We support our schools and have a sense of community pride when they do well or succeed, but cringe at the thought of additional tax dollars being levied on us. The system is automatically set up for an adversarial relationship between the school system and homeowner.

While Mullins is steadfast in her political beliefs, she acknowledges the importance of working with the minority party to advance Ohio.

“My goal is to work together to find positive solutions to issues, without compromising my conservative core beliefs,” she said. “My heart is truly to represent the people who have entrusted me with their voice.”

The pastor said she’s learned the importance of listening and understanding before making a decision based on her experience with the community outreach program Holding Hands CDC, which includes a food pantry, she founded.

“Every person deserves to be treated with dignity,” she said.

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Hearing the stories of men, women and children struggling opened her eyes, she said.

“I realized it was a more complicated problem than a ‘pat answer’ could solve,” she said. “Some of the people we served were truly doing their best with what they had, during a rough period in their lives.”

Hall agrees that communication is the key to solving political differences, as is compromise, he said.

“Every day we face situations where we work with people who we do not always agree with,” he said. “There needs to be an understanding of others’ views before jumping to any kind of conclusion, and that starts with listening. Having all the essential information and evaluating all the options is key before moving forward to create positive change or impact.”

Hall said there are key areas, like mental health, education and the drug epidemic, where bipartisan cooperation “can lead to a better place to live.”

“At the end of the day, we both want to pass and enact legislation for a better community,” he said. “We just have to find common ground in our steps to get there.”

Registered voters can cast early votes now, either at the Butler County Board of Elections, 1802 Princeton Road, Hamilton, or request an absentee ballot to vote at home. Election Day voting hours are from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. March 17.

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