NAPOLEON — Voters in the Ohio 1st Senate District will decide on representation Nov. 6. Republican incumbent Robert McColley was appointed to the position on Dec. 5, 2017 following the resignation of former office holder Cliff Hite. Democrat Adam Papin of Bryan is challenging McColley.
The district covers a large area, ranging from the Ohio-Michigan state line north of Montpelier to St. Marys and part of Wapakoneta and east into Hardin county. The cities of Van Wert, Findlay and Kenton are within this district.
McColley, of Napoleon, prevailed in a three-way GOP primary in March outdistancing fellow Republicans Craig Kupferberg and Bob Barker Jr. He previously served on the Ohio House of Representatives representing District 81. He was first elected to the House in 2014 and served until his appointment to the state Senate in 2017.
Both McColley and Papin see workforce as a major issue facing Ohio’s 1st Senate District.
“I would say, the economy is going well. We have an awful lot of jobs. Businesses are doing well; people are relatively pleased about that. One of the issues however that many of the businesses are highlighting is that there aren’t enough workers to fill the available positions. We have companies that are leaving work on the table because of the fact that they can’t find enough people to staff up their businesses,” said McColley. “I think part of that coincides with the other issue that people are very concerned about and that is the opioid epidemic. I truly feel that the more people we are able to help out of addiction and get into treatment and get into job training and things of that nature, the more people we’re going to be able to help grow our economy and be able to help serve their own families.”
“I see the biggest issue long term for the region is the availability of a skilled workforce,” Papin said. “The company I work at is seeing 25 to 30 percent of its employees retiring within the next 10 to 15 years and they are struggling to replace them. The job market keeps getting more and more competitive. That’s going to be a major issue going forward how we can keep jobs, and the economic ramifications of it are if there aren’t employees where companies can find them, they’re going to move where they can. It’s going to be a defining challenge for our economy in the area for the next several decades.”
The candidates both expressed their hopes of serving their district.
“I was born and raised in northwest Ohio. I have a great passion for northwest Ohio and its issues, and my background, both as an attorney who has worked with small businesses his entire career, and as someone who has previously spent time in economic development, I believe lends itself to being able to understand an awful lot of the issues that the 1st District is facing, particularly issues having to do with workforce development, with business and of course, with our drug epidemic and the addiction. Mainly, just wanting to serve the people of northwest Ohio is why I am continuing to seek this office,” said McColley.
Papin was initially drawn to seek the position due to the redistricting of the legislative maps that will take place after the 2020 census. However, his reason changed after going on the campaign trail, shifting to wanting to give the constituents a voice in Columbus.
“As I’ve been campaigning and I’ve talked to more and more voters and more and more constituents, I would represent the challenges that working families are facing and really being a voice down in Columbus that isn’t necessarily there right now with the Republican controlled legislature. I see so many families that clock out of one job and go straight to another job because they can’t afford to pay their bills and parents who are working split shifts to accommodate child care and having somebody there to look after the kids. I really want to address some of those challenges and be, at the very least, a voice in Columbus that can advocate for ordinary Ohioans,” said Papin.
Voters have two candidates diverse in their experience and ideas.
“Well I think one of the biggest differences obviously is you have, if you’re a voter in the first senate district, you have a choice between somebody with a proven track record, who has voted for tax cuts, somebody who has sponsored bills that would cut regulation, somebody who has sponsored bills to make government more accountable and somebody who has stood up for our second amendment rights and protected the unborn, versus somebody who doesn’t have all of those behind them. I’m a proven conservative and that’s something that people can take solace in when they’re looking for who they should vote for in the first senate district. I believe my values mirror and reflect the values of the first senate district,” said McColley.
While he doesn’t have a political background, Papin does have problem solving skills.
“I think the main thing that sets me apart is I have a furniture design degree from Northern Michigan University, not a traditional political degree. I think it kind of shaped how I view problem solving in general. We have a lot of people at the local level who are already working tirelessly, and that’s just an incredible wealth of knowledge. If we could pull these resources together and develop legislation that has a track record, then we’ll be far better stewards of our money and much better responsible to Ohioans long-term,” said Papin.
Another contrast between McColley and Papin comes in the form of campaign donations.
“The biggest difference I’d say is I don’t have a lot of corporate donors. If you look at my campaign finance report it’s all small donations with the exception, I did get a little money from the UAW, my money came from local hardworking Ohioans as opposed to corporate pacts and special interest groups, some from out of state. So I’m beholden to the district above all else,” said Papin.
McColley would like to continue serving his district.
“I would just like to add that it’s been the honor of my life to serve northwest Ohio in the legislature and I would be absolutely humbled and thrilled to be able to be given that opportunity to serve in the legislature for another four years,” said McColley.
While campaigning, Papin has been through the district and is working hard to receive votes.
“I’ve been working incredibly hard for the past year. I’ve been everywhere all over the district. I’m there fighting for you and I have ideas on reforming the state legislature in Ohio to make it get back to working for the people,” said Papin.
Reach Merri Hanjora at 567-242-0511.