LIMA — When you’re running for an office that represents the whole county, there’s not a much better place to campaign than at the Allen County Fair.
So that’s where Democratic candidate for the Ohio House, Bo Huenke, has been for much of this past week, even though it meant taking a week of vacation from his job. Huenke works at the Honda Engine Plant in Anna, where he is a production associate and member of the emergency response team. He is also a crew a chief with Lima Allen County Paramedics.
Huenke is challenging state Rep. Matt Huffman, R-Lima, for the 4th Ohio District seat, which includes all of Allen County.
“It’s just so much fun, seeing old friends and neighbors, people I work with, family, especially my paramedic buddies,” Huenke said. “I hand out literature for everyone, from the top of the ticket to the bottom of the ticket.”
Saving the time from work was an easy decision, Huenke said. The fair is worth it, because it’s a place that lends itself to political discussion at the respective parties’ booths.
“It’s a real good place to meet people and have good conversations, the great conversations with people about what’s on their minds and what they expect of me, what’s going on in their lives,” Huenke said.
Huenke jokes that he has gotten pretty good at figuring out who’s stopping by for a free cup of water or balloon for a grandchild, who wants a bumper sticker, or who has something to talk about.
When people do want to talk, Huenke pulls out a map and chats them up about the way Republicans, led by Huffman, drew new legislative districts this year. The districts, many of which heavily favor Republican lawmakers and snake through counties, have become the subject of lawsuits and ballot initiatives.
“He had a choice of 80 maps, and he drew this one,” Huenke said of Huffman.
He also likes to talk with people about protecting public education and unions against bills proposed by Republicans, several of which Huffman is a leader on.
“I can compromise on school vouchers. I don’t like them, but I can live with the ones we have now, which my teacher friends don’t like to hear,” Huenke said. “But that’s enough. They’re ruining public schools, by paying out to private schools and charter schools. Someone who makes $95,000 doesn’t need to send their children to private school for free.”
Huffman’s bill previously set $95,000 as a cap for families’ income to receive a school voucher. The latest version of the bill, which has stalled, set the cap at $67,000 for a family of four.
Huenke said he’s one of 10 siblings who went to Catholic schools in Lima; his parents paid the tuition, he said.