Term limits bar William Batchelder from seeking another two years in the Ohio House. He has served as a representative for much of the past 45 years, taking a short detour to the common pleas and appeals courts. He has been a strong presence at the Statehouse, especially the past three years as the speaker. Two candidates are vying in the Republican primary to succeed Batchelder in the 69th District, which cuts diagonally across Medina County, from the upper eastern toward the lower western portion.
One candidate stands out in view of his preparation and experience. We recommend the election of Steve Hambley on May 6.
Hambley has spent the past 17 years as a Medina County commissioner. He has put together a solid record. One area in which he has made a mark is planning, pushing for economic development yet urging balanced growth, recognizing the value of preserving open space. He has promoted regional thinking and collaboration. He played a leading role in voters adopting an alternative approach to school funding, a sales tax increase for permanent improvements.
To his credit, Hambley is well versed on a range of matters. He knows how to sort through complex issues, for instance, favoring a severance tax increase not to pay for additional tax cuts but to route revenue to affected communities and address problems such as orphan wells.
His opponent in the primary is Chris Sawicki, who has a business in home improvement. Seeking his first elected office, Sawicki calls himself “the conservative choice.” He talks about reducing government and protecting liberties. He is critical of regulations and supportive of gun rights, including the principle of “stand your ground.” He opposes the Common Core curriculum. He argues the district would be better served by a fresh voice in the legislature.
In his way, Steve Hambley would be a fresh presence, able to work well with others, equipped with much knowledge and proven skills.
The Republican candidates in the 75th Ohio House District are in substantial agreement on economic issues. Nick Skeriotis, the owner of a paving company, and Kenneth Hendrickson Jr., who works with corporate clients at Key Bank, support further state income tax cuts and less regulation, especially from the federal government. Both oppose the expansion of Medicaid under Gov. John Kasich, while agreeing the state is on the right track under his leadership.
What sets the candidates apart are their views on certain social issues and the future of the party. Hendrickson offers a more thoughtful, open approach. We recommend the election of Kenneth Hendrickson Jr. in the May 6 primary.
Both candidates are anti-abortion, with Hendrickson supporting the “heartbeat” bill while Skeriotis has his doubts about the proposal based solely on its legal vulnerabilities. A key difference in outlook is that Hendrickson thinks the Republican Party needs to attract young voters by dropping its opposition to gay marriage and supporting a bill to stop discrimination based on sexual orientation. On those issues, Skeriotis strongly disagrees with his opponent.
As a business owner, Skeriotis is a staunch advocate of vocational education. But in his second primary in the district, which covers central and southern Portage County, he remains too focused on federal policies and divisive social issues.
Hendrickson, in his first race, is just starting in his banking career. What appeals most about his candidacy is his less confrontational and more realistic view of where his party needs to go.