Boehner insists he’s ‘a regular guy with a big job’

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MIDDLETOWN — One project U.S. House Minority Leader John Boehner is most proud of is when he helped with the Union Centre Boulevard interchange in his home community.

He said he helped to cut through the federal red tape to get the interchange open, which it did in 1997.

“If you look at what’s happened down there, it’s been infused with investment and jobs,” Boehner said Saturday during an interview in Middletown. “The local people paid for the exchange and my job was to work through all the red tape.”

Boehner faces criticism from his challengers that he’s not done a lot for the Eighth Congressional District which includes parts of east Dayton, Huber Heights and Riverside and all or parts of Miami, Darke, Mercer, Preble and Butler counties. Boehner faces three opponents in this November’s election – Democrat Justin Coussoule, Constitution Party candidate James J. Condit Jr. and Libertarian David A. Harlow.

Boehner said he’s been in his home district quite a bit despite being the Republican leader in the House.

“I have no real concerns about being able to represent the interests of my district,” Boehner said.

The former trustee from Union Twp., which is now West Chester Twp., said he never thought he’d be in Congress as long as he has, and said he’s “a regular guy with a big job.”

“I went to Washington 20 years to fight for a smaller, less costly and more accountable federal government,” Boehner said. “If I’m lucky enough to be voted Speaker, I don’t feel any less different about my mission today than I did then.”

Boehner said he’s helped, along with other federal legislators, to keep the National Air and Space Intelligence Center at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

“It’s a tremendous asset for our country, and a tremendous asset for our region,” he said.

Alabama officials attempted to relocate NASIC south to Huntsville where they have the Missile and Space Intelligence Center.

Boehner also said he’s helped win approvals for a $500 million hydroelectric plant at the Meldahl Lock & Dam in Bracken County, Ky. The city of Hamilton is set to own 51.4 percent of the hydroelectric output from the plant.

The 10-term congressman has been involved in conversations concerning toxic algae in Grand Lake in St. Marys in Mercer County which forced the lake to close this summer to swimming and boating.

“I’ve been trying to work on the federal side of this for at least the last 10 years,” Boehner said. “I’ve been working with them not only in the short term but long term there has to be a plan that does not exist today.... We’re working with all the stakeholders up there and trying to get to the long term plan.”

And without saying no specifically, Boehner will not accept the challenge to a debate issued several weeks ago by Coussoule.

“I’m involved in the national debate each and every day and there isn’t a constituent in my district if they’re interested that doesn’t know where I stand on all the issues,” Boehner said.

Coussoule’s campaign manager Alliea Phipps said it’s disappointing Boehner won’t debate.

“He doesn’t even acknowledge that he has a race at home,” she said.

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