Democrat Cathina Hourani said she wants to unseat incumbent Rep. Margaret Conditt (R-52) because she doesn’t believe the current government is doing the best possible job of representing the people of Ohio.
“Our taxes have been raised,” Hourani said. “There aren’t viable jobs coming in. More and more people are on unemployment, drawing government assistance. Those are everything that the Republican Party is against and yet, it’s rampant.”
“We have a one-party rule,” Hourani said. “You cannot have a one-party rule and have a successful community.”
This self-described conservative Democrat said she believes firmly in the right to bear arms, and she and her husband own guns. “There’s only a few us (conservative Democrats) left in the world,” she said.
Hourani, a citizen of the Cherokee Nation and an Oklahoma native, converted to Islam in her mid-20s. For her, the biggest challenge on the campaign has been her religion.
“That first contact, they (voters) look at you like, OK, ‘You’re white, you have a scarf on your head, what’s going on?’” said Hourani.
She cites the emergence of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria as poor timing with her campaign. The Muslim extremists have generated media attention globally for their terrorist actions in the Middle East.
“We’ve had the cops called on us,” said Hourani.
That happened as she and a team of volunteers were out canvassing in a neighborhood when an unhappy resident expressed his displeasure. He threatened to call the authorities.
“I didn’t back down. He told me I needed to leave and I said, ‘You know I’m here. I’m knocking on doors. It’s my right, I’m going to keep knocking.’ Nobody tells Cathina ‘No, you’re not going to do something,’” she said.
When the police showed up, Hourani and her team left peacefully, not wanting to get in any legal trouble. She said she hasn’t faced the same kind of trouble again.
“Cathina is a very courageous person,” said West Chester Precinct 37 Executive Dominick Lijoi. “I admire her greatly because she really has a passion for the working Ohioan.”
Hourani earned a degree in nursing, and worked as a nurse. Today she is a homemaker with six children – two daughters and four stepchildren.
The Hourani family prioritizes eating dinner together every night, even during the campaign. “My number one biggest issue is families,” she said.
Hourani said she feels there has been a loss of family values and wants to restore them by ensuring mothers’ rights are protected. She wants women to be able to make their own choices regarding their health care, including abortions.
Hourani is a strong advocate for both maternity and paternity leave.
“I’m not a quiet stay-at-home mom,” said Hourani. “I have a voice and I’m going to share it with the world, whether you want to hear it or not.”
Education and its funding are main issues Hourani sees affecting the people in her district. She wants to see the state budget more education funding to school districts, rather than rely on local of levies.
“If we have to raise our property taxes and pass a levy just for our children’s education, then absolutely we are not being represented in Columbus,” said Hourani.
Since Gov. John Kasich took office in 2011, Ohio has taken a $515 million cut to public education funding. A teacher in the audience at the town hall meeting noted increased class sizes and diminishing arts programs.
In Hourani’s eyes, these cuts have a trickle down effect that hurts children and schools.
As a Democrat facing an incumbent in a historically Republican district, Hourani has a big challenge in front of her. She and her team are targeting voters who are what they call ‘soft R’s.’
‘Soft R’s’ are “Republicans that don’t always vote down ballot,” said Hourani.
“Vote for who you think would be your best representative,” said Hourani. “If you vote down ballot, that’s fine… But do your research. Research the candidates. Make sure you vote for the person that is going to do what’s best for you and your family.”
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