LIMA — Voters will have choices on who they’ll send to Columbus in most local races in November’s general election, although that choice may not be obvious just by looking at the ballot.
While Republicans and Democrats will be clearly labeled in the races for the 12th Senate District and 84th House District, voters will have to write in a candidate’s name if they don’t want to support the GOP’s incumbent in the 81st and 82nd districts.
12th Senate District
Ken Poling, a carpenter living in Lima, decided to get his name on the ballot as a Democrat when he realized no one was challenging state Sen. Matt Huffman, a Republican from Lima. Huffman’s views on expanding educational vouchers for private schools concerned Poling.
“His EdChoice bill really comes down to taxation without representation in the end,” Poling said. “When you’re pushing funding to private schools in the district, that’s what it is. You don’t have a school board someone can run for. It’s a board of directors who says how you’re spending on those children.”
Poling said more attention should be paid to providing treatment in the midst of the opioid epidemic.
Huffman, who spent four terms in the state House before moving over to the Senate six years ago, sees big things happening for himself and his district if he wins re-election. Insiders see him as the next likely president of the Senate. He also works as an attorney in Lima.
“That will help get things done that are part of an ideologically conservative agenda, and it’ll also help for western Ohio and the 12th Senate District,” Huffman said. “I don’t think what I stand for or what I’m doing is much of a mystery to anybody after 15 years on Lima’s city council and 12 years in the legislature already.”
His goals focus on giving more discretion to judges on sentencings and making criminal expungements easier, creating more transparency on medical bills and reforming the social benefits system. That includes expanding throughout the state with the “Allen County model,” which provides some money to recipients who would lose their benefits as their wages climb until they’re self-sufficient.
84th House District
Susan Manchester, a Republican from Waynesfield, hopes to win re-election in the 84th House District. She faces Democrat Joe Monbeck.
Manchester vowed to continue fighting mandates by Gov. Mike DeWine about the coronavirus pandemic. She also acknowledged the economic losses that came with the virus will make the budget process difficult in the spring.
“For my district, there are still a lot of questions to be answered about these mandates,” she said. “It’s important for the General Assembly to put pressure on the governor to relax the mandates or at least look at what’s best for the long-term health and well-being of our economy.”
Monbeck, who didn’t respond to emails and phone calls for this story, is an advertising consultant. He ran against Manchester in 2018, when the seat came open with Keith Faber running for state auditor. He challenged people to understand individual Democrats’ views, including his position of being for responsible gun ownership but not anti-gun.
“As rural Democrats, I can speak for myself, we are not anti-gun,” Monbeck said at an event this summer. “You know, we really encourage gun safety and gun education. … It’s just all about showing up, letting people know that what they might hear from people on the nightly news isn’t necessarily true.”
Other House races
The remaining House races in the region involve write-in candidates or are unopposed:
• 81st District: Incumbent James M. Hoops, a Republican, faces write-in candidate Janet Breneman, an independent who previously ran for the U.S. Congress as a Democrat.
• 82nd District: Incumbent Craig S. Riedel, a Republican, faces write-in candidate Elecia Wobler, a Democrat.
• 4th District: Incumbent Bob Cupp, a Republican and the current Speaker of the House, is unopposed.