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Pair of Democrats eyeing Ohio’s 8th Congressional District seat

Matthew Guyette, of Greenville, and Vanessa Enoch, of West Chester Twp., are vying to be the Democratic Party’s nominee for the 8th Congressional District in the March 17, 2020, primary. Enoch was the party’s nominee in 2018, losing to incumbent Congressman Warren Davidson, R-Troy. STAFF PHOTOS BY MICHAEL D. PITMAN/FILE
Matthew Guyette, of Greenville, and Vanessa Enoch, of West Chester Twp., are vying to be the Democratic Party’s nominee for the 8th Congressional District in the March 17, 2020, primary. Enoch was the party’s nominee in 2018, losing to incumbent Congressman Warren Davidson, R-Troy. STAFF PHOTOS BY MICHAEL D. PITMAN/FILE

EDITOR’S NOTE: Due to the coronavirus outbreak, the Ohio primary election was moved from March 17. The deadline to vote in the Ohio primary election is April 28. Voters must request an absentee ballot from their county’s board of election if they have not already voted. All absentee ballots mailed in must have a postmark of April 27 to be counted, and all ballots must be received by the boards by May 8 to be counted. Voters can drop off the ballots to board offices in person by 7:30 p.m. April 28. In-person voting will be offered on April 28, but will only occur at boards of elections early voting center and only be available for people with disabilities who require in-person voting and people who do not have a home mailing address. Local election officials say voters need to make sure they include all the required information on absentee ballot request forms and pay close attention to unsolicited request forms they get in the mail. State law allows ballots to be scanned but they cannot be tabulated until 7:30 p.m. April 28.

For decades, Ohio’s 8th Congressional District has been a safe seat Republican seat, but despite an uphill battle Democrats want to change that political reality.

There has never been a Democrat to win election to this congressional seat since reapportionment following the 1970 census. Today, for every registered Democrat in the district — which consists of all of Butler, Clark, Darke, Miami and Preble counties, and the southernmost portion of Mercer County — there are roughly four registered Republicans, according to elections data.

Vanessa Enoch, of West Chester Twp., was the Democratic Party’s nominee two years ago, besting three others, including Matthew Guyette, a Greenville resident. Neither has held political office, but they’re fighting for the nomination again in hopes to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Rep. Warren Davidson, R-Troy, an incumbent congressman with deep campaign coffers and strong political allies. Davidson’s opponent is West Chester Twp. resident Edward Meer.

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One of Enoch’s top priorities if she wins election is affordable health care.

“Providing affordable health care is an urgent need in our district because of the high rate of pre-existing conditions, and the high rates of cancer, heroin addiction and other chronic health conditions,” she said.

She also plans to address job creation and economic growth, and “saving” Social Security.

“Under the current administration, Social Security has come under significant threats that impact residents of Ohio’s 8th Congressional District,” she said. “Significant cuts to Social Security Disability benefits will require that millions of beneficiaries re-prove their disability, and endure years of red tape to prove that they are still eligible.”

President Donald Trump's 2021 fiscal year budget includes cuts to Social Security, though on Twitter he stated he "will not be touching" Social Security or Medicare in the 2021 fiscal year budget.

Guyette’s top priorities will include re-establishing the rule of law.

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“The person we have in the White House, and what’s been happening in Congress, I feel like we’re abandoning our historic commitment to the rule of law,” said Guyette. “We’re turning into a country of men instead of laws, and that’s a dangerous slippery slope, whichever party you believe in.”

Guyette also wants to represent the average citizen better, agreeing with many of the Democratic presidential candidates calling the system rigged economically and in terms of power in Washington, D.C.

“I think the government works great for people who have the money to employ the lobbyists, and the lawyers and the accountants to get what they want,” he said. “The problem is that it’s not working so well for the rest of us.”

Guyette also wants to bring back “good manufacturing jobs” to the region, instead of seeing them shipped overseas.

Enoch and Guyette believe in cooperation and compromise when trying to present legislation.

For Enoch, she has already solicited opinions from Democrats and Republicans on how to address many key issues, such as health care, gun legislation and the opioid crises.

“I believe that the best policy grows out of listening to people with differing opinions and points of view,” said Enoch. “I have always valued the opinions of others regardless of our differences.”

Enoch plans to establish “Policy Advisor Circles” in each of the counties within the district to discuss issues and concerns of voters. The goal is to have bi-partisan recommendations for policy solutions.

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The question of how to work across the aisle is a common question on the minds of voters, said Guyette. He said it’s hard for politicians to work in a bi-partisan fashion.

“A lot of politicians of both parties, when they get to Washington, they forget the people that sent them there,” said Guyette. “They get caught up in the party politics, and they often end up voting against the interest of their constituents. I think the key is to keep in mind what people in the 8th District … If you keep the needs of the constituents in mind, then that will necessitate you working across the aisle because the people on the other side are going to have those same interests in mind as well. They may have a different perspective … but that’s how the political process is supposed to work.”

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.