LIMA — One glance at this year’s general election ballot, and it’s clear there are a lot of decisions to be made by voters. The other thing that’s clear when it comes to congressional races is voters will have plenty of candidates from whom to choose.
There are three candidates apiece for the area’s two seats in Congress, with Republican incumbents seeking to stave off challenges from both a Democratic and Libertarian challenger.
In the 4th Congressional District, incumbent Republican Jim Jordan faces a challenge from Democrat Jim Slone and Libertarian Chris Kalla.
For Jordan, the main issue is slashing congressional spending to address the looming debt crisis.
“We’re on the brink of having a debt crisis in this country. The debt situation is so bad, and you have to address it in two ways: You have to cut spending, and you have to put in place policies that are conducive to economic growth,” said Jordan, of Urbana. “It scares me. It’s why I’ve been offering the only balanced budget in Washington the last four years, a budget that actually gets to balance in 5.5 years, not 20 or 30 years or never, like the president proposes.”
The issue is also about jobs.
“This is all about creating an environment that’s conducive to job growth and economic growth, where people have a growing economy and there are jobs out there,” Jordan said. “Obviously, there are other issues as well, but that’s front and center. There are international concerns, foreign policy is always a concern. What happened in Libya is a concern.”
Slone, a retired autoworker from Elyria, said he’s tired of the lack of results from Congress.
“I was tired of the status quo in Congress with Congress having the lowest rating they’ve ever had in history. I just felt we needed changes,” Slone said. “The No. 1 question as I go through the district is, ‘Jim, why do we have to have this continual gridlock? Can we not have some kind of compromise?’ That’s exactly why I’m running because I believe we need to have creative compromise. I can definitely do that.”
Slone also said he’s convinced the Republican plan to stimulate the economy through continuing the Bush-era tax cuts and slashing spending won’t work.
“We need to get rid of the Bush tax cuts on people who make more than $250,000 or more a year. I think it starts with Congress,” Slone said. “We have to make cuts, and we also have to raise taxes in certain areas. We have to be careful where we do those. We have to look at each item, each proposal where the cuts are going to be made, where the taxes are going to be raised. You can’t overtax people, but also you have to raise the tax on the people who are making the most money.”
Kalla, of Lima, the program director for the Hardin County Family YMCA, said he got into the race to help spread the Libertarian Party’s philosophy of small government with no intrusion into an individual’s personal life. Kalla said beyond that, he wants to be part of turning around the economy.
“I think that’s a function of our federal government’s spending policies. Everything else sort of takes second place to are you working and is our economy growing,” Kalla said. “I think both myself and (Libertarian presidential candidate) Gov. Gary Johnson have a plan to cut spending on the federal level and also to cut taxes on everyday Americans to help them plan for their future and restore fiscal responsibility to Washington which has been severely lacking.”
Kalla said he has a unique blend of qualities that make him the best choice to represent the district in Congress.
“I have what most Americans are actually looking for. They’re looking for someone who is fiscally responsible and socially tolerant,” Kalla said. “You don’t have to choose between having a balanced budget and supporting marriage equality. I’m in favor of both those positions. It’s a rare combination on today’s political scene.”
The race for the 5th Congressional District pits incumbent Republican Bob Latta against challengers Democrat Angela Zimmann and Libertarian Eric Eberly.
Latta, of Bowling Green, said jobs, the economy and controlling spending are the key issues.
“I’m a firm believer you don’t spend what you don’t have. We’re looking at right now this administration has increased the debt by $5 trillion,” Latta said. “I support a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution that will require Congress to live within its means. Our friends on the other side of the aisle, the Democrats, did not support that when it was up for a vote this past year.”
Latta said one issue that relates to jobs and the economy that is constantly raised by constituents is federal regulations.
“The administration is coming up with more and more onerous regulations on the businesses, and they’re having a harder and harder time trying to comply,” Latta said. “The Small Business Administration came out with a report saying that federal regulation costs businesses and individuals $1.7 trillion a year. That’s the No. 1 thing I hear from folks.”
Zimmann, of Holland and an instructor at Bowling Green State University, said she entered the race because Latta’s votes against the auto industry and college financial aid don’t represent the northwest Ohio she grew up in. She said she has a plan to help get the economy growing again.
“One of the best ways to strengthen the economy of northwest Ohio is to invest in infrastructure — roads, bridges, railways and up in the northern part of the district, water, as well as broadband Internet,” Zimmann said. “Ohio is a donor state. When we pay our federal taxes, instead of a chunk coming back for infrastructure that we pay in, we donate it to California, to New York, to other states in the country. Most people don’t know that. They think if we want to have our infrastructure upgraded, we have to pay more in taxes. We don’t have to pay more, we just have to have a representative who fights harder to get our money back.”
Zimmann said it’s also essential to match get workers the training to match their skill sets with the needs of companies across the district. She also wants to lower the corporate tax rate.
“That’s a typical Republican talking point. I agree with that as a Democrat. I also think I am more fiscally conservative than my opponent because the $16 trillion deficit which is outrageous he voted for the Ryan budget which would increase the deficit by another $8 trillion. I think we need to gradually lower this deficit so we don’t owe any of our money to any other country.”
Eberly, of Bowling Green, said on his campaign website the government needs "more honest hardworking people to take a stand and fight for the American dream and liberty for all."
"I am of the opinion that Congress must be a legislature of citizens, not career politicians," Eberly wrote on his website. "Government intervention has caused a housing and financial crises that will take years for us to recover. Food and gas prices are squeezing family budgets, while employment is is difficult to obtain for our younger generations, our retirees cannot count on their pensions or retirement income is non-existent."