There’s not much politically similar between Ohio Rep. Sara Carruthers and her challenger Sam Lawrence, but they do agree on how they will approach representing the newly redrawn 47th House District.
Whatever they do will benefit, in their opinions, Ohio.
Now, the policies and issues they tackle while representing the district that represents the cities of Hamilton and Oxford and the townships of Hanover, Fairfield, Reily, and Oxford, will differ greatly.
Carruthers, a Republican from Hamilton, will address what she’s tackled in her first two terms in the Statehouse, which includes re-introducing House Bill 3, known as Aisha’s Law.
If House Bill 3 isn’t pushed through the Senate during General Assembly’s lame-duck session after the election, if elected, it will be her top priority with her joint sponsor Rep. Janine Boyd, D-Cleveland Heights. Other things she’d tackle would be addressing the economy and issues that support what she calls Ohio’s “most vulnerable,” women and children.
“When it goes right, and oftentimes it goes right ― you just don’t hear about it so much ― I love what I do, and I love the people,” she said.
Regarding the economy, she would like to see taxes cut for women with children, and taxes cut for IVF, something she said she went through. “The cost is prohibitive. If you’re trying to have a child these days, it’s so expensive, and when you get a child, it’s expensive.”
She’d also like to look at costs for birth control “because I’m a huge proponent of birth control.”
Carruthers said it’s also important to support the needs of the aging population of Ohio.
“Ohio is an aging state, and we need to take care of our aging, because it’s going to be all of us,” she said. “I really think our standard, we’re really blessed to have some of the nursing homes here (in Butler County), but not all areas (of Ohio) are blessed. We need to up their standards, and I think it’s quality over money issues.”
The two-term lawmaker in November 2021 introduced a bill that would appropriate $300 million in American Rescue Plan Act funding to Ohio nursing facilities. Not long after Carruthers’ bill was introduced, she received $52,000 in campaign donations from those connected to nursing homes.
Political opponents said that was another sign of corruption in Ohio, but Carruthers said the matter was investigated as she turned over phone messages, emails and calendar records, which she said showed no connection to those donors.
I had no private meetings, no private texts. No corruption whatsoever,” Carruthers said.
That legislation earmarking $300 million in ARPA funds for nursing homes was packaged into a larger $4.18 billion federal pandemic relief bill.
While Lawrence has criticized Carruthers for those donations, he said his number one would be addressing corruption, specifically the fallout from the House Bill 6 scandal, which the U.S. Attorney’s Office said the $61 million bribery scheme was the largest public corruption case in Ohio history.
Lawrence, a Democrat, believes House Bill 6 “is only a small piece” of corruption in Ohio politics in Columbus.
Running as a 19-year-old Miami University political science student, Lawrence said he wants to make a difference in his home state.
“I decided to run because I see a lot of these issues that are going on, and not just in the federal realm, but in the Statehouse,” said the Toledo native, now Oxford resident. “I paid close attention to politics very early on (in his life), and I realized that a lot of these decisions really do affect our lives; I think that’s something people my age really don’t understand a lot.”
But now, he said, people in his generation, Generation Z, are getting involved. They may not be running for office as he is, but they are involved with community activism and civic engagement.
While corruption is a top issue for Lawrence, the first thing he said he would work on is his environmental policy, “something that almost 100% of young people can agree on.”
There’s less agreement with those in older generations, he said, but added that “this is an urgent crisis that needs to be dealt with now.”
“That starts with the clean energy programs, that starts with wind and solar developments that create good-paying jobs and in turn would stimulate our economy,” Lawrence said. “But it seems as though the Republican super-majority has been not kind to clean energy, and it goes all the way back to the House Bill 6 scandal.”
Democrats running for a Statehouse seat, Lawrence said, are also running behind the workers-first campaign of U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, a candidate for U.S. Senate. He said tax cuts should be given to workers, “not corporations and extremely wealthy people.”
But how would he do that entering what is still likely to remain a Republican supermajority in the Ohio House?
“Common sense,” he said. “We have our differences, but there are common sense things we can work on. Honestly, I don’t what bills (the Republicans) going to introduce, but I’m not going to be completely loyal to one party. I’m going to work with anyone who wants to get good things done for Ohioans.”
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