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Ohio 7th Congressional District race: Bob Gibbs, Roy Rich

U.S. Rep. Bob Gibbs, the Republican incumbent, did not provide responses.

Dan Phillip, Independent candidate

Age: 57

From: Ashland

Experience: Founded the Transformation Network (1999), a non-profit focused on the development of customized workforce solutions for manufacturers.

Education: B.S. Education, Ashland University.

Family: Married; three daughters and a son.

Q1: Why should Ohioans support your candidacy? (100 words)

Ohioans have been left out of the political process in Washington. They tax our income and spend our money without our approval (less than 20 percent approval rating in Congress). The parties reign supreme at the expense of the people. If you send another Republican or Democrat to Washington, you’ll see more of the same. They’ll do what’s best for their party, not what’s best for the people. You deserve better. Challenging the parties by electing an independent shows the elites in Washington that it’s time for something different. Let’s get back to what’s important. Let’s get OUR House in Order.

Q2: There is deep polarization in government and the public. How would you use elected office to bridge racial and partisan divides? (100 words)

I think I am uniquely best-suited to bridge that divide. I would go to Washington with no party loyalties, no special interest money and no lobbyist friends telling me how to vote. I would be able to act solely and completely in the interest of the 7th Congressional district. Not just the Republicans of the 7th district and not just the Democrats of the 7th district — all of them. That profound divide in our country does nothing but hurt our ability to solve real problems. As an independent, I can stand between the two sides and make real solutions.

Q3: What is Ohio’s most pressing problem and what would you do, if elected, to fix it? (200 words)

I think the previous question shows Ohio’s, and the country’s, most pressing problem. We have myriad problems facing our country like the national debt, the growing drug problem, rising health care costs and others that plague every-day Americans. But those issues cannot even be addressed because we’re divided. Many are more concerned about “our side” and “their side”, while our country seems to falls apart. Someone needs to lead the people towards meaningful solutions to these problems. Electing leaders from the Republican and Democrat parties has not solved these problems, and in some cases has worsened them. We need to get back to square one. Good government comes from good people getting involved in the process.

When I go to Washington as your representative, the people are coming with me. And together, we’ll Get OUR House in Order.

Q4: Most congressional and Ohio races are not competitive. Why do you think that is and what impact might it have on democracy and how government functions? Is this a problem and, if so, how do we fix it? (100 words)

The districts were drawn by a partisan group, so many of them show biases toward one party or another. But what I’ve seen, personally, from knocking on thousands of doors is that the people in our district can be mobilized to support a candidate that represents them. The people aren’t happy. But if you want something different, you must work for it. Our district has worked for it. This race will be competitive because the people decided they’ve had enough with the parties. That’s how you fix it. You talk to the people and engage them in the process.

Roy Rich, Democratic challenger

www.rich4congress.com

Age: 62

From: Eaton Township (Lorain County)

Experience: Retired police commander and officer; vice president and president of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 8, Cleveland (nine years); Director on Board of Directors, Cleveland Police Credit Union (18 years).

Education: Lakeland Community College, Certificate in Business Management, Certificate in Industrial Supervision.

Family: Married, one son.

Q1: Why should Ohioans support your candidacy? (100 words)

People should support me because I have spent my life in the service of others. I can’t be bought, coerced or intimidated. I will stand up for the working class and small businesses. I’ll defend Social Security and Medicare, and stand up for our veterans. I will fight to close the loopholes that mega corporations use to avoid paying their fair share of taxes.

I believe that the job of a representative is to represent the people, not the corporations or the 1 percent.

Q2: There is deep polarization in government and the public. How would you use elected office to bridge racial and partisan divides? (100 words)

I would seek out not only those in my own party, but would reach out to those across the aisle to find the areas of common ground and build on them. As a person who has experience in both unions and management, I have developed skills which help in negotiations and finding solutions to difficult problems. As a police commander on the southeast side of Cleveland, I had good relationships throughout the community while serving a diverse population. These relationships have helped shape my perspective, and as a retired officer, I can bring a different perspective to these issues, and perhaps bridge some of these divides.

Q3: What is Ohio’s most pressing problem and what would you do, if elected, to fix it? (200 words)

Ohio’s most pressing issue? How do you gauge that? There are many.

Obviously, our crumbling infrastructure comes to mind. The solution to that is a comprehensive jobs bill, with good paying jobs, U.S. steel, equipment and materials.

On the human side, however, the opioid drug epidemic is an immediate crisis.

The CDC needs to get out in front of this, with “in your face” public service announcements, in the public and schools. NOW.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency needs to step up. Heroin has been around a long time, but what is killing people today is the fentanyl and other drugs being mixed in. Those are coming from somewhere. They aren’t made in someone’s bathroom or kitchen.

Finally, we need required rehab programs. Currently, when these folks overdose — and Narcan is used to revive them, unless there are drugs or paraphernalia present — no action is taken other than a trip to the hospital, where they sign themselves out as soon as they are able. The state legislature needs to address that. We need to require that they get help, or else it will be a “dope, Narcan, release, dope, Narcan, release” cycle, until it’s “dope, too late for Narcan, death.”

Q4: Most congressional and Ohio races are not competitive. Why do you think that is and what impact might it have on democracy and how government functions? Is this a problem and, if so, how do we fix it? (100 words)

The problem is gerrymandering and the huge amounts of campaign donations.

Ohio is roughly 50-50 across party lines; yet, 12 of Ohio’s 16 U.S. representatives are Republican.

The 7th congressional district is a 10-county C shape, looping from Lorain County down to Coshocton then over and up to Stark. The 4th District goes from Lorain County to Dayton. Ridiculous.

The second problem is money. When lobbyists can give campaign donations, it taints the entire legislative process.

In my race, for example, my opponent had $1.27 million in his campaign fund as of June 30. How can I compete in the media market against that?

So how do we stop it? I propose prohibiting Congress people from voting on any issue affecting any business from which they get campaign donations, directly or indirectly, under the doctrine of “conflict of interest.” Simple really.



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