VOTER GUIDE: U.S. Congress 10th District Democratic candidates

The Dayton Daily News, Springfield News-Sun and Journal-News invited local candidates to fill out the following questionnaire to inform readers.


Kirk Benjamin

No response

David Esrati

City: Dayton

Education: B.S.B. in marketing, Wright State University

Employment: Owner, The Next Wave Marketing Innovation

Community involvement: Former president Historic South Park Inc.; former founder, executive officer of VOB 108; member Disabled American Veterans; elected precinct captain of Montgomery County Democratic Party; member Cincinnati Ad Club; member Graphic Arts Guild; Huff-n-Puff Hockey.

Why are you seeking elected office? I believe that small business, which creates a majority of jobs in America, is unrepresented by our corporate owned Congress. My political career started at the same time as Mike Turner’s, and I believe he has become a tool of the military industrial complex, and that the people here deserve a congressman that will actually meet with them.

Why should voters elect you? Starting with Mike Turner arresting me for my protesting the secret meetings of the Dayton City Commission, I’ve fought for open, honest, transparent government — and paid the price. Our local political parties run like a monarchy — and are great if you are part of their friends and family club. It’s time the people had a true representative.

If elected, what will be your top three priorities? Level the playing field for small business. Push for a national health care option for small business. Create a true voter information system that includes real time verified campaign finance reporting.

What specific plans do you have to address those top priorities? I will introduce legislation to require all incentives/tax breaks/economic development dollars/grants to be available to all companies on an equal basis — or be ruled unconstitutional. Call it the Equal Development Bill of Rights. I plan to build support to turn Medicare into an buy in program option for all small businesses. Force the Federal Elections Commission to build a donation clearinghouse portal that requires verified identities to donate to all national candidates to start— i.e., the donations go to the FEC and then are disbursed to the candidates. End self-reporting, end middlemen like ACTblue or Anedot.

Anything else you would like voters to know? I’ve been writing about the dark underside of Dayton Politics on my blog, since 2005. I’ve exposed criminal behavior from school board members, and done it on my own dime. As your congressman, I promise to help citizens fight for open honest, transparent government. That, and I love dogs. I will miss not being able to bring my dog to work like I do now, if I’m your next congressman.

Jeff Hardenbrook

City: Dayton

Education: B.S. electrical engineering, University of Cincinnati

Employment: Small business co-owner

Community involvement: Past participation in Dayton Public Schools, St. Paul United Methodist Church, and David’s United Church of Christ.

Why are you seeking elected office? I watched the corruption of Republicans in the state and federal government the past five years. I watched as insurrectionists attacked our Capitol and constitutional transfer of power on Jan. 6, 2021. I watched the endless challenges by Trump to our election process. In late February as I watched Ukrainians defending democracy from Putin’s attack, I decided to run for U.S. Congress in my home district, Ohio 10.

Why should voters elect you? My fight, our fight, is alongside the common woman and man in our district, to protect our democracy, to preserve quality health care at an affordable price for all our people. Our fight is to leave a living, livable planet to our children and grandchildren, and all future generations. I strive to leave things better than I found them. The fact is, when Americans are listened to, our government is strengthened, our families, communities, and businesses are healthier, more vibrant. Through this struggle the future of Earth is brighter for all of us who call it home.

If elected, what will be your top three priorities? Protect health care: Congressman Turner has voted against Obamacare more times than anyone cares to count. All Americans deserve great affordable health care. Protect Our Democracy: Jan. 6, 2021, we and the world stared in shock, disgust and embarrassment at the antics of our former president, climaxing in a failure to overthrow a peaceful transfer of power. All Americans should oppose any who gave comfort to that insurrection. Protect the Earth and families: I support all families, in all their diverse forms in living to their fullest potential. Let’s strive to leave the earth better than we found it for our children and future generations. We have one earth.

What specific plans do you have to address those top priorities? Fight Republican obstructionism by having a Congress that will work in a bipartisan manner with President Biden on these issues.

Anything else you would like voters to know? I enjoy being husband to Jill, my wife of 38 years, the father of three children and grandfather of three. I grew up in the country and enjoy gardening to this day, it keeps me grounded. I am a native of the Dayton area and part of the first generation of my family to graduate from college. Early in our marriage, my wife and I worked overseas in mission/development with southern African churches. I have also worked with the federal and county government and private enterprise. I am currently co-owner of a small business.

Baxter Stapleton

City: Dayton

Education: Cedarville University/Wright State University (political science)

Employment: Filmmaker, previously content producer and assistant to, member services manager at Five Seasons Sports Club, legislative aide at Dayton City Commission

Community involvement: Member of Dayton Chamber of Commerce; board member for FilmDayton; volunteer for Shoes for the Shoeless; SOCHE; Centerville Elks Athletic Boosters; Big Brothers Big Sisters; YMCA and Mentors Matter; class president at Cedarville University

Why are you seeking elected office? I have dedicated my life to seek justice and love kindness. I am running for Congress because the system will not change until we replace the leaders in it. Working, everyday people deserve a seat at the table in the People’s House to make decisions in our best interest. My campaign is about accountability. In Congress I will fight to hold companies and the ultra wealthy accountable to pay their fair share in taxes for the greater good, and I will work to transform our economy to adapt and rise to the challenges of automation, climate change, and China’s global influence. Our current congressman only answers to his party leadership and his donors, and I will be a true public servant answering only to the Ohioans in my district.

Why should voters elect you? Voters should elect me because I know how to actually get bills passed in Congress. I did this with my involvement with the Lord’s Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act of 2009, where as a private citizen I worked with NGOs and nonprofits to lobby our members of Congress to get bipartisan support to pass the bill that President Obama signed into law. I know how to build coalitions and relationships to achieve a desired goal, and I have experience managing teams of 20-plus people. As a filmmaker I worked with the largest company in the world Apple, where they premiered one of my videos in all the Apple Stores internationally. I will use the relationships I have with companies like Apple to attract new talent and opportunities to our district. I will not sell out to corporate money and will hold monthly events and forums to talk directly to the people of this district. I will operate with transparency and am committed to fighting for term limits to stop career politicians. I have grown up here and love this area and will serve in its best interest.

If elected, what will be your top three priorities? My top three priorities as your next congressman are to 1. Strengthen the infrastructure and support the missions in and around Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and work with private companies to create partnerships so veterans and citizens working around the fence have future employment opportunities once they retire. 2. Fight for funding for strategic investments in clean energy and technology so Dayton and Ohio can be the leader in a 21st century economy to create new jobs and combat climate change. 3. Expand and invest in public education so every child has access to preschool to have a strong foundation before a child turns 5 years old and also expand public education for two years of college so people can learn the skills to be ready for the jobs of the future around programming and technology.

What specific plans do you have to address those top priorities? My specific plans to address those top priorities. 1. I would support legislation like H.R.4350 -- National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2022 to help advance the missions at Wright Patt while also putting limits on expensive programs like the F-35 program. I will work with the leadership of the Air Force and the teams at NASIC and AFRL to make sure missions are properly funded and how public/private partnerships can better operate so the inventions coming from different missions can help bring new products or services to market to help expand our economy locally. 2. I would support legislation like S.3140 - Clean Energy for All Homes Act, H.R.1221 - Electric Vehicles for Underserved Communities Act of 2021, H.R.6492 - Climate Resilience Workforce Act, H.R.6654 - CASC Act, H.R.2670 - The Civilian Climate Corps for Jobs and Justice Act, H.R.2919 - THRIVE Act, H.R.3473 - Build Local, Hire Local Act 3. I would support and sponsor a version of S.1288 - College for All Act of 2021 in the House. This will help students be able to attend the amazing public colleges in our district, like Sinclair, Wright State and Central State.

Anything else you would like voters to know? I am dedicated to serving the district and have the experience and relationships to be a successful member of Congress for our district. We are not accustomed to change in the Dayton area, we have had the same leaders in office and we deserve more than what we are getting. I ask for an opportunity to show you what a representative who listens to the needs of the people will do and how I will work with members from both parties to get results for our district.