ST. MARYS — Ohio Rep. Craig Riedel, R-Defiance, and his Democratic challenger, 18-year-old Aden Baker, met on the debate stage for the first time Wednesday at a special event hosted by the St. Marys Rotary Club.
Moderated by Randy Elsass, the two candidates for Ohio’s 82nd House District debated issues pertinent to the region over a roughly 40-minute period. Each candidate were given the questions beforehand to prepare their answers.
Despite political and generational differences, the candidates did come to a few agreements. Both Riedel and Baker spoke out against State Issue 1, which would cut back penalties for drug-related crimes. Both voiced concerns about the public costs of Gov. John Kasich’s recent movements throughout New Hampshire and Iowa, and both agreed that the funding formula for public schools needs to be reworked.
Riedel said the current funding formula puts undue financial burden onto wealthier school districts, and Baker said the system is one of the variables keeping families in generational poverty.
But while the two did echo each other on some points, they differed on others.
On the effects of limiting runoff on Grand Lake St Marys algal blooms, Riedel said the state should “stay the course”; Baker said he would set up an “independent commission” comprised of St. Marys community members to find out what proven policies could be applied.
On digitization of the National Gun Registry: Riedel disagreed with the move — “I believe in limited government. … The last thing we need is big brother looking over our shoulder.”
“It’s a slippery slope. Where does it stop? Are they going to start coming and taking your guns away because you have a semi-automatic?” Riedel said.
Baker, who said he was a gun owner, agreed with making the registry available to police officers to “protect the protectors.”
“In my dealings with law enforcement since I started my campaign, I hear two things loud and clear — the majority of their calls are domestic disputes and the other thing is when they get there to those homes to respond to those calls they have no idea who’s inside or what they might be armed with.”
The largest difference was found in their answers to a question asking about their largest policy changes they hope to push forward if they win the election.
Baker: “The biggest thing in the state government right now, the fundamental issue that really brought me here is that over the last eight years, Kasich and his legislature have cut $1.5 billion from our local government fund. … We’ve seen villages like my hometown of Grover Hill losing an ridiculous amount of money, money that is absolutely necessary to balance these budgets.”
Riedel: “I’m passionate about finding ways to bring better paying jobs to Ohio, to give people an opportunity to get off the ground, to get up and provide for their families. We are in a very competitive situation as far as our neighboring states and I believe that Ohio needs to become a right-to-work state. … There are 27 states in the United States that are right-to-work. We are in the minority now. The trend is towards right-to-work.”
Ohio’s 82nd House District includes Van Wert, Defiance and Paulding counties, and a northern section of Auglaize County. Riedel has held the seat since 2017.
Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.