Democratic candidates debate in St. Marys


By Jennifer Peryam - jperyam@limanews.com



From left are 4th District Congressional Candidates Jeffrey Sites, Mike Larsen and Shannon Freshour during a debate Thursday night at the Union Hall in St Marys.

From left are 4th District Congressional Candidates Jeffrey Sites, Mike Larsen and Shannon Freshour during a debate Thursday night at the Union Hall in St Marys.


Jennifer Peryam | The Lima News

ST. MARYS — The three Democratic candidates hoping to take on Republican Jim Jordan in the November race for the 4th Congressional District were in St. Marys Thursday night facing off in a debate.

Shannon Freshour, Mike Larsen and Jeffrey A. Sites all hope to win in the primary on March 17 and have not run for public office before. Early voting began in Ohio on Feb. 19.

The forum attended by 60 people was at the USWA Local 200L Union Hall in St. Marys and was hosted by the Auglaize County Democratic Party. Scott Schertzer, Marion mayor, served as moderator.

Freshour, of Toledo, has experience in policy and an education background.

Freshour was one of the first Head Start kids in Ohio, and views it as the single most important part of her education. Those early investments in education gave her an opportunity to graduate from college and earn a master’s degree. She now wants to ensure that the next generations of Ohio’s children get the same opportunities to succeed.

“Issues important to me are healthcare and education because how important it has been in my life. I want to make sure everyone has that opportunity,” Freshour said.

She said getting sick shouldn’t bankrupt families. She will vote for a public option, and fight to protect Medicare.

She will fight for workers, cut taxes for the middle class and invest in infrastructure, economic development and green jobs.

She said Jordan is working every day to take programs away as well as needed healthcare.

“I bring a unique perspective and understand the nuts and bolts of passing legislation and building a coalition that has stake holders involved.”

Freshour said she will fight for all Ohioans to have access to lifelong learning by establishing universal pre-K, fixing the college affordability crisis, and expanding access to trade and technical job training.

She will pass anti-discrimination legislation and stand up for women’s right to choose.

Larsen, of Plain City, calls himself a “progressive Democrat” and doesn’t believe someone needs to be a moderate to beat Jordan.

In 2018, Larsen worked for Janet Garrett, who ran against Jordan, and said she was a great candidate.

As an Emmy-nominated writer and producer, Larsen wrote for “ The Drew Carey Show,” “Ellen,” “Reba,” “Real Time with Bill Maher” and “2 Guys & a Girl.”

The middle child of a large, blue-collar Catholic family, Larsen knew from an early age that anything he wanted to accomplish he had to earn himself. He joined his first union at 14 — the Teamsters — when he got a job as a peanut vendor at a Major League Baseball stadium, and has been a proud member of three other unions, including his current union, The Writers Guild of America.

Larsen says the nuns at St. Roberts Elementary School taught him there is no “neutral” in life.

These principles led Larsen to work with victims of military sexual assault to help them tell their stories in congressional testimony. He is also a mentor to incarcerated writers in state prison and works tirelessly for justice reform and educational opportunities behind prison walls.

Larsen worked on banking reform, healthcare, fighting the climate crisis, strengthening worker’s rights, expanding broadband to rural America and getting battlefield weapons off our streets. Recognizing his leadership, Speaker Nancy Pelosi asked Larsen and a colleague to train other Democratic offices on the Job Hunters Boot Camp, a program they created at the depths of the recession to help jobless constituents learn new career skills.

“My past experience working in Congress has given me experience, and I’m running on Democratic values,” Larsen said.

Sites, of Lima, considers himself a moderate and believes that’s a good thing in order to beat Jordan.

Sites is a first-time candidate, who like too many Ohio families has suffered from financial hardships and lay-offs.

“Congress is filled with too many millionaires who ignore the real financial struggles that the middle class faces,” Sites said. “Jim Jordan does not care about his constituents, and we need a representative who represent people in the Ohio fourth district like me.”

Currently, Sites is employed as an assistant manager of shipping and receiving, leading a team of more than 94 associates in Findlay.

In the past six years with his company, he has witnessed the constant outsourcing of jobs overseas. He’s also taken notice of the divisive and hateful rhetoric that he said has infiltrated the political system.

“Jordan, as a leader of the Freedom Caucus, has helped force government shutdowns, and while he relished his role leading investigations into President Obama and Hillary Clinton, he believes that Donald Trump can do no wrong,” Sites said.

Sites said he will bring a fresh perspective of the middle class.

The Lima News will publish candidate profiles on the three candidates in Sunday’s edition.

From left are 4th District Congressional Candidates Jeffrey Sites, Mike Larsen and Shannon Freshour during a debate Thursday night at the Union Hall in St Marys.
https://www.limaohio.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/54/2020/02/web1_Democrat1.jpgFrom left are 4th District Congressional Candidates Jeffrey Sites, Mike Larsen and Shannon Freshour during a debate Thursday night at the Union Hall in St Marys. Jennifer Peryam | The Lima News

By Jennifer Peryam

jperyam@limanews.com

Reach Jennifer Peryam at 567-242-0362.

Reach Jennifer Peryam at 567-242-0362.

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