Incumbent challenged in Warren County state house race

Erin Rosiello, a Democrat in her second Warren County race, is challenging the re-election of Republican state Rep. Scott Lipps in Ohio House District 62.

Rosiello, 54, ran unsuccessfully last year for a seat on the board of trustees in Hamilton Twp., one of the county’s fastest growing unincorporated areas.

Lipps, 63, a Franklin resident and a former councilman and mayor there, is in his second two-year term representing the district including the Franklin, Hamilton Twp. and Morrow areas in Warren County.

The winner will be paid $65,528 a year to represent the district in 2021, with an increase in 2022.

Rosiello said she was running to help end a “culture of corruption” in Columbus that was diverting attention from needs such as education and health-care funding.

“We should be making decisions about the pandemic. How are we going to handle unemployment?” she said.

Lipps, chairman of the House Health Committee, said he had opposed the powers that were in Ohio, including the election of House Speaker Larry Householder. Contrary to a recent media report, Lipps said he was not an “anti-vaccer,” but supported the rights of employees who were coerced to get flu vaccinations.

“The right to employment should allow for things such as medical exemptions or religious exemptions,” said Lipps. “My kids are all vaccinated and my grandkids are all vaccinated.”

Heading into the home stretch of the election, Lipps said he held a fund-raiser this week with the new House Speaker. In their June campaign expense filings, Lipps reported $9,172, Rosiello $4,014, on hand.

Q: The governor’s Strong Ohio gun reform package isn’t likely to pass this legislative session and will likely be re-introduced next session. Where do you stand on the basic elements of the package?

Rosiello: I was really excited we finally might have a little reform. It seemed like we were getting support from the governor. I do think that has gone by the wayside.

I grew up around guns. What I would like to see are universal background checks, limits on high capacity magazines, red-flag laws (that allow families and police to seek a court order to remove firearms from those deemed to be a danger to themselves or others) and some sort of licensing process.

Lipps: I’m not in favor of additional limitations on gun rights. I represent Warren County, especially the rural part. Guns, shooting and hunting are very popular. I don’t agree on the need for universal background checks or the proposed red-flag law.

Q: Do you support or oppose the state authority to issue public health orders to shut down businesses, schools and other activities during a pandemic?

Rosiello: Yes, I believe in listening to science and the experts. I don’t think politicians have enough knowledge and background to manage those things.

Lipps: I believe there are times emergency measures have to be made for the greater good. They have to have limitations. I want an elected official that we can hold accountable. There’s got to be some time limit.

Q: Do you wear a mask in public spaces when you cannot maintain six feet of social distancing? Why or why not?

Rosiello: Yes, to protect others. I don’t know how protective they are for you.

Lipps: If I’m outside, no. If I’m inside, I do about half the time. I always carry my mask. If I approach someone who I don’t know or is wearing a mask, then I put on my mask.

Q: Do you support or oppose removing the ‘catch all’ language in Ohio’s child immunization laws that allow parents to opt not to have their kids vaccinated for reasons of conscience?

Rosiello: I just really hate that medicine has been politicized. Ohio has already weakened our vaccination requirements. I have concerns about diseases coming back and I have concerns about what is going to happen with COVID. I think we need to be consistent across the board. It’s not about protecting one person, it’s about protecting the population as a whole.

Lipps: I support the parents' choice. Parents should have freedom of choice.

Q: Ohio and other states saw sustained demonstrations this summer against racial injustice and police brutality. Protesters called for a slate of reforms. What do you think are the most important changes we should make?

Rosiello: Overall I think there are some procedures that need to be reviewed. Chokeholds time and time again have shown they can be deadly. I do think there needs to be reform. I don’t think that needs to be completely defunding the police. There needs to be training, the more training the better, including on deescalating situations. There needs to be accountability. Right now there are no consequences.

I’m a police supporter. Recently we’ve been using tear gas on protesters who are exercising their First Amendment rights. Sometimes you need to get a crowd under control. I also support independent investigations of officer-involved shootings and deaths in custody, centralized reporting to the state of use of force incidents. Across the country, you can have just one bad actor that crosses three or four states and they don’t know about it.

Lipps: The single most important thing, I think, we should do is respect law enforcement. They’ve dedicated their lives to serving our community. They deserve to go to work in a safe environment and not be scared every day and they deserve to get to come home. Every profession has 2 or 3 percent that don’t deserve to be there. I’m not an industry expert. I would turn to my professionals. Chokeholds, that scares me. They would have to explain it. Tear gas for large crowd control. I’ve never been tear-gassed. That’s because I’m not out rioting. There’s a difference between rioting and protesting. I absolutely support additional training on recognizing implicit bias and de-escalation and independent investigation of deaths in custody. All of us want to do better. All of us want to learn more. He would consider centralized reporting of use of force incidents if it was going to be used for good. I think we have to be cautious on increased transparency of police and disciplinary files.

Q: The FBI and DOJ are charging former Ohio House speaker Larry Householder and four other men in a racketeering scheme that allegedly involved $60 million in bribes to elect Householder and pro-Householder lawmakers, make him speaker, pass House Bill 6 and defend the bailout bill from a referendum. Have you received campaign donations or any support from Friends of Larry Householder, Larry Householder, Jeff Longstreth, Neil Clark, Juan Cepedes, Matt Borges, Generation Now, FirstEnergy PAC, any other FirstEnergy sources? If so, have you or will you donate that money to charities?

Rosiello: This I find deeply disturbing. When I decided to run, I said that our representatives up in Columbus should represent the people that vote them into office. Little did I know that Householder would illustrate that case in point for me. Because we’ve had unchecked, one-party rule for a really long time and a supermajority in the House and in the Senate and a Republican governor, some of the checks and balances are removed. We’ve had not one, but two, Republican speakers that have been embroiled in criminal corruption investigations in the last three years. That needs to be stopped in Columbus by leadership, and there should be consequences. I don’t know how we can keep voting the same people back in office when we know they re not doing us right. The House bill itself was absolutely criminal. Making us pay for the same nuclear plants for the fifth time, it gutted clean energy standards. We were sold a bill of goods. Ohio used to be in a leadership role with renewable energy. Enough of the culture of corruption, enough of the pay to play. Ohioans deserved better. I received no donations or support from Householder, groups supporting him, lobbyists or First Energy sources.

Lipps: I came in under a different speaker. I had to live under a regime that bought its way into place. I have no money from any of those you mentioned except $500 to $1,000 a year from First Energy to returning legislators. Our money is not tainted money. My money’s not dark money or dirty money. We fought against this system. For the Householder case, our office provided the FBI with 1,400 pages of documents, then we gave them all the texts, records on my cell phone.

Q: Do you support or oppose repeal of House Bill 6?

Rosiello: I think it needs to be repealed. We need to readdress that in its entirety.

Lipps: I support repeal. I also support replace. The two nuclear power plants in the law produce 17 percent of the energy for the state and 85 percent of Ohio’s carbon-free energy. If we lose either one of those plants, regardless of the 1,400 jobs you’d lose, you lose Ohio’s clean-energy source. Companies wanting to build plants in Ohio want a 20-year plan. If you no longer have those plants, you now have to buy energy from another state. We can’t predict the price of energy for the plant.

Q: State lawmakers craft laws that impact open meetings and access to public records. In your public service experience, how have you worked to increase transparency?

Rosiello: I have no public-service experience.

Lipps: When I got here, they gave me business cards with an office phone number for someone else. I said, my cell phone’s not on there. They said, state reps don’t want to get calls. I demanded new cards with my cell phone. About half now have cell phones listed. I believe in full transparency.

Q: Given the pandemic and economic crisis, state tax revenues are tumbling and the upcoming budget is expected to be very challenging. Would you vote to increase income, sales and/or business taxes to avoid drastic cuts to state programs? Why or why not?

Rosiello: Ohio has an inverted tax system. What we have done is provide tax cuts to the wealthy, the top 1%. There are a couple of loopholes that have been very helpful. LLCs pay zero percent tax on the first $300,000 of income and then 3 percent after that. Whereas if I’m working at Procter & Gamble and I make $350,000, I pay 4.8 percent. The state has lost a lot of income. We’ve lost billions. As we start to address Ohio’s budget, we need to look at that. Trickle-down economics, it’s not working. Looking at all taxes, the lower middle class is paying 60 percent more of their income than our wealthiest.

Lipps: It’s a very complex question. We don’t know how big the hole is yet. Ohio is sitting on a maxed-out rainy day fund. We have emergency funds available and revenues like gambling are setting record profits again. State programs should be cut. Some of our runaway spending. We’ve already lost a record number of businesses in Ohio. Added business taxes would force more businesses out. I would say you do a blend of government spending reduction with the possibility of looking at a statewide sales tax increase.

Loopholes should be addressed.

Q: A recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling in June makes employment discrimination against LGBTQ workers illegal but it doesn’t cover housing or places of public accommodation. For more than a decade, some Ohio lawmakers have tried to pass a bill that would make discrimination in housing, employment and places of public accommodation illegal on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. The Ohio Chamber of Commerce now backs this bill. Do you support or oppose the bill?

Rosiello: I don’t think there should be any kind of discrimination. I would support legislation that was against discrimination.

Lipps: Ohio should be open to all that want to live here and all that want to work here. I support the bill supported by the chamber. I believe there’s more harm than good for Ohio’s future economics and attracting industry by not supporting that bill.

Name: Scott Lipps

Age: 63

Hometown: Franklin

Family: Divorced with two daughters

Political Party: Republican

Political Experience: - 4th year as State Representative, four terms on Franklin City Council, two as mayor

Education: Bachelor’s from College of Wooster, Master’s from DePaul University

Current Employment: - Business owner

Name: Erin Rosiello

Age: 54

Hometown: Hamilton Township

Political Party: Democrat

Family: Divorced with daughter

Political Experience: Ran for township trustee in 2019

Education: Muskingum College (also attended Miami of Ohio)

Current Employment: Unemployed, running campaign

Election 2020

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