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The counties included in the voters guide are: Montgomery, Warren, Miami, Greene, Clark, Champaign, Preble, and Butler.

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Ohio Senate District 7

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  • Candidate picture

    Sara Bitter
    (Dem)

  • Candidate picture

    Steve Wilson
    (Rep)

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Biographical Information

What are the two biggest challenges facing the state and how would you deal with them?

What would you do to bring jobs to Ohio? Do you support JobsOhio? What changes would you make to it?

21 states have passed minimum wage increases since 2014. What do you think the minimum wage should be in Ohio?

What is your plan for resolving concerns about the skills gap many Ohio business leaders complain about?

Ohio has consistently cut income taxes over more than a decade. Do you support further reductions or increases in the state income tax? Why?

Should Medicaid expansion continue or not? Under what restrictions?

Heroin and opiate addiction have become a major issue in the state. The death tolls are rising and more families are impacted. What ideas do you have to deal with the crisis?

K-12 education in Ohio is all over the place when it comes to success. There are very successful public schools and failing ones. What ideas do you have to improve education in Ohio?

How do you feel about the current system of ranking schools based on test performance? Performance on statewide tests consistently show that districts that serve affluent communities perform better than those with high concentrations of poverty. How do we improve educational outcomes for all students regardless of wealth? And how do we hold districts accountable in a way that doesn’t just measure wealth?

Some argue the best way to close race- and income-based achievement gaps is increased funding for preschool programs. The group Groundwork Ohio argues that a child’s academic preparedness entering kindergarten is one of the greatest predictors of his or her success, yet preschool funding gets 6 percent of what the state spends on higher education. What are your thoughts on this? Do you have other ideas on how to improve kindergarten readiness for children, especially low-income children?

What is your position on school choice? What role do you think charters and private schools should play in the educational landscape?

How does Ohio need to improve higher education and deal with affordability and attracting students?

What makes you more qualified than your opponent(s) to hold this office?

Ohio is establishing its medical marijuana program. Do you support full legalization? If so, under what circumstances? If not, why not?

What is your stance on abortion issues?

Given recent school shootings, what do you think Ohio can do to make schools safer?

Ohio has passed a lot of gun issues in recent years. Do you favor gun rights – stand your ground, CCW, etc? Do you favor gun restrictions – universal background checks, bump stock ban, assault weapons ban, etc?

Schools, cities and counties continue to complain that state funding has been cut, forcing them to cut services and/or raise local taxes. How will you work with local governments?

What else do you want the voters to know about you and your campaign?

Experience Assistant to the Special Counsel to the President at White House in Clinton Administration, National Field Director for the ReelAbilities Film Festival North America, and Co-Chair of the 2015 Cincinnati ReelAbilities Film Festival and Education Chair
Education BA in Political Science from the University of Cincinnati, Juris Doctor from Case Western Reserve University School of Law, and Law Trainee graduate Cincinnati Children's Hospital Leadership Education in Neurodevelopment Disabilities (LEND) Program
Ohio’s greatest single challenge is the addiction crisis, at the cost of human lives destroyed and lost. My first priority at the Statehouse is to establish a bipartisan caucus on Addiction, Mental Health, and Disability to develop coordinated, best-practices responses in all these areas. Ohio’s second challenge is to educate our population at all ages for a thriving workforce in the new jobs economy. I would create public-private-education-industry partnerships to develop a vision and implement a plan to reach this goal.
Pro-business progressives have confirmed that attracting companies to Ohio is a win-win for labor and business. Demonstrating that we have the land, the workforce, the transportation channels, and the cutting-edge research universities will be key to bringing new employers to the state. Developing local entrepreneurs though small start-up venture capital and access to business loans will expand the effectiveness of local job creation as well.
Minimum wage should be a living wage, so that an individual working 40 hours a week can purchase the basic requirements of a decent life—housing, food, clothing, health insurance, transportation, and connectivity, as well as contribute to the care of any dependents. Costs vary among communities, but the current rate of $8.30 per hour is clearly too little. Service workers should not be paid a lower wage and forced into dependency on tips for their living.
Partnerships between high schools, community colleges, universities, and industry are needed to ensure the training of a skilled, flexible workforce. This means providing strong foundations in math, science and literacy; teaching computer skills at all levels; supporting the dignity of skilled trades; developing skills in problem solving and collaboration; and establishing the practice and system of continuous learning for life to keep up with a changing world.
Ohio’s top income tax rate is now under 5% for people earning in excess of $200,000 a year. There is no need to further lower individual state income taxes in Ohio. Continuous revenue reductions under the current administration have squeezed the budget for education, healthcare, and infrastructure. Robbing the present costs more in the future. A balance must be struck between returning taxes to consumers and funding public goods delegated to the State to manage on behalf of us all.
Medicaid expansion is a vital program which extended coverage to 650,000 uninsured Ohioans, reducing the uninsured population by half. Great strides have been made to expand access to opioid addiction treatment, smoking cessation, care of chronic conditions, and primary care, all of which improve the health status and reduce future healthcare costs for the State and these individuals. Republican Governor Kasich fought hard to establish the program against own-party opposition because he understood the value and the need.
Top priority at the State level should be a coordinated effort that seeks out and implements the best practices of other states and countries in prevention, treatment, recovery, and reintegration. With both legal medicine and the illegal international drug trade contributing to addiction, we have a system in crisis. Legal prescribing practices have already begun to change—continued vigilance is essential. Policing the illegal drug trade and fentanyl doping will require collaboration of local, state, and federal law enforcement efforts on a grand scale.
Study the best and replicate their methods. This includes looking at the best Ohio schools, the best public schools in the nation, and public schools in countries with more uniformly successful results. The best and brightest who are drawn to teaching should not choose other paths because of college debt. Scholarships, debt forgiveness, payback through service commitment can all be expanded to bring more people back into teaching. School curriculum uniformity has been imposed by external testing. A loosening of these requirements would permit teachers more time and flexibility to innovate and motivate.
Standardization and frequent student testing has not produced better outcomes, nor incentives for creativity and engagement in the classroom. A comparison with worldwide education practices and results suggests that this approach in the US has not lived up to the hope that competition and public ranking would produce better schooling, even as school budgets have slimmed, instruction days and hours have been reduced, and administrative overhead has absorbed teaching resources. Ohio’s school funding system has been declared unconstitutional for its demonstrable income bias, yet a better formula has not yet been developed and implemented. For a fairer society and a fairer education, there must be fairer sharing of resources.
Early education is the key to a good start for students. Ohio’s Preschool Promise pilot program should be studied and widely implemented, anticipating success. Teacher education and compensation are also key to developing a larger education force because high expectations require small student to teacher ratios in the classroom. Continued learning through reading, safe play, and engaged conversation with adults should continue outside school hours, which requires both parent education and nurturing daycare alternatives. The importance of sleep and good nutrition for developing brains should be emphasized.
The for-profit option for schooling creates conflicting incentives for administration and teachers—cut corners or invest more in the classroom? For-profit is a slippery slope, with competing goals of education and shareholder/owner return on investment. Not-for-profit charter and private schools have a clear and singular mission, one that can be monitored with professional peer oversight. No schools should be permitted to steal from the public budget without oversight and consequence.
Ohio should support students with scholarships, debt forgiveness, and service payback—whether we are dealing with manual or intellectual skills training. Every job has dignity, and Ohio needs people prepared for every niche in a thriving society which includes industry, services, arts, technology, and research. Ohio’s universities have a national and international reputation. Translating education into preparedness to work and live well requires a partnership between educational institutions and the job creators. Grants and internships offered by potential employers can supplement the State’s investments in our people.
To be an effective elected official, I think you have to first be a good listener. I've spent much of my career listening so that I can carefully craft solutions to systemic problems. I understand the political system, having worked in the Counsel’s Office as the Assistant to Special Counsel to the President in the West Wing of the White House. I have experienced real life issues that so many families face, and I bring my empathy to the table to speak for all Ohio families. I have two children with developmental disabilities and I have been an advocate for people with disabilities for much of my career. I want to work for people with disabilities, their caretakers and the broader community of people with mental health conditions or addiction issues to invest in programs that provide a support system and opportunities for success.
I support legalization of cannabis compounds for medical purposes. I support the lifting of the Federal ban on funding clinical research so that dosing and effectiveness may be properly studied by medical researchers. The use of cannabis extracts under the supervision or a doctor or licensed mental health practitioner can be extremely helpful in many cases. At the same time, the effects of cannabis use must be considered in restricting activities that threaten the health and safety of others, such as driving while intoxicated and inflicting second-hand smoke.
As the mother of two children with genetic developmental disabilities, I believe in the potential of every person to achieve the best life they can. That was my personal choice. I also support the right of every woman to make this choice for herself, safely and in privacy.
As a strong advocate for mental health, I believe the first line of defense against students or teachers turning weapons against others and themselves is to increase the awareness of and support for individuals under psychological stress. The second is to enact sensible restrictions on the available firepower and increase accountability for weapon and ammunition purchases. The third is to continue educating local police and campus security personnel in the prevention of attacks from outside the school community and in all cases, practice urgent response procedures. However, as lockdown and active shooter practice is traumatizing in and of itself to students and school personnel, it must be approached with great sensitivity.
I favor a sensible approach to responsible gun ownership, which includes recording and licensing legal purchases of firearms, restricting access to purchases through background checks by individuals with a record of criminal violence or self-harm, limiting ownership of high-capacity weapons to those with formal training (police and military), elimination of bump stocks and other adaptive firing devices, and a ban on non-metallic and undetectable firearms.
As the Federal government reduces tax revenues, expenses are passed along to the states. As the states reduce tax revenues, expenses are passed on to localities. However, it is an inescapable fact that public services must be paid for in one way or another or our infrastructures will crumble, our schools will fail, our health will diminish, our first responders and defenders will be stretched too thin. As a State Senator, I will work with cities and counties to determine which services are best managed at each level, where responsibility for funding lies, and who is accountable to the taxpayers to ensure not only the best outcome but the best stewardship of their contributions to the public coffers.
My motto for my campaign is "Bitter for Better" because I sincerely believe we can do better for Ohioans. I want voters to know that, first and foremost, I am a mom and a caregiver so I have skin in the game. When my children were born, like most parents, I never thought my children would have to go on Medicaid someday. Through my family's journey I have learned that navigating government systems, such as healthcare and education is particularly difficult when you have a family member with a disability. I want to help families like mine, like I've done throughout my career. I will take that knowledge and experience and I will advocate for all families because I know we can do better.

I also want voters to know that I come from a family of public service. My step-father was a police officer and my mom was a nurse. I was endorsed by the Fraternal Order of Police and I am proud of that and my several endorsements you can find on my website.

Lastly, women are underrepresented in the Ohio legislature and that must change. I decided to run because I want to create a Disability, Mental Health and Addiction Caucus in the legislature in Columbus. My campaign is grassroots and comprised of moms and caregivers and people with disabilities themselves and I want to bring their voices to our legislature in Columbus.
Experience Former bank president, naval officer, appointed to Senate in 2017.
Education Miami University, degree in finance and banking. U.S. Navy Supply Officer training Certificates from the American Institute of Banking.
Every day brings challenges but the two biggest are continuing to create good jobs for Ohio citizens and providing a safety net for those vulnerable citizens that truly need our help. While we are currently experiencing historically low unemployment, we must keep focused on demanding an environment that attracts investment from the private sector and an educational system that fosters workforce development. Less regulations resulting in less government intrusion creating a smaller government sector that results in less taxes and more investment in our economy is the key for long term prosperity in Ohio. For those citizens severely disadvantaged by poverty, mental illness, developmental disabilities, our very young and very aged, the state has a responsibility to assist in solutions.
I do support JobsOhio and state and local efforts that create good Ohio Jobs. Now that we have created jobs to the point that there are more opportunities than citizens prepared to fill the jobs available, we must concentrate on workforce development. Preparing Ohioans to participant in the workforce and participate in a growing robust Ohio economy.
When we address minimum wage we are really addressing the need to provide jobs that result in a living wage. I am open to exploring all options to achieve a living wage for every Ohioan but I think a free market approach gets us to the goal faster. There may be and has been a time in our economy where minimum wage was a helpful. Today what is working is a continued strong economy that drives up wages while continuing to attract good jobs and programs to prepare all Ohioans to have the skills to participate in living wage jobs.
The skills gap is the challenge to continue to grow jobs and to continue to move Ohio citizens to more prosperity. Supporting programs and educational opportunities that prepare our workforce is job one for our state and we must double our efforts to increase affordable educational options resulting in training, certifications, associate degrees and advanced degrees. The challenge is to encourage all Ohioans to participate.
Our job at the State level is to achieve the goals I have laid out in the first four questions. I believe we can concentrate on eliminating waste and outdated and ineffective programs, reducing regulatory burden and government intrusion in our lives and achieve our goals while continuing to lower the tax burden on Ohio citizens.
We must study of the effects of this expansion. If the federal government does not continue to reimburse Ohio at the current rates then this benefit is unsustainable. We want this benefit for Ohioans that truly need the help. We must invoke a work requirement on those that can work if we are to maintain some type of expansion.
This epidemic problem in our State must be dealt with. While it seems overwhelming, so many good people and good institutions want to help. With proper coordination and continued funding we will win this battle. Coordination of laws, first responders, police, prosecutors, judges, recovery programs, re-entry and support programs is a must. We must make a fundamental shift to increase support for prevention if we are going to make a major difference in the short run.
To achieve a better result in K-12 education we must put more emphasis on early childhood education. We must hold all schools accountable for results while reducing their regulatory burden. We mandate far too many test and take away from our teachers too much of the time they have to instruct. Finally, we must return to more local control because only the local community really knows what they need to be successful. The key to me is reading. If all students have not learned to read by third grade then they will not be able to read to learn and they will fail. That is the reason we must put our emphasis on early childhood education for all Ohio children.
I agree that the goal in education should be to measure results not the wealth of a district. I also agree that we test way too much. I will emphasize the need for local control, early childhood education and will look to the State Department of Education for best practices and less unfunded mandates.
I agree with the work of Groundwork Ohio and thus would again state I am for greater funding for early childhood education and development. The only way I see to reduce race and income based achievement gaps is to get every child the skills necessary to compete.
I believe in school choice as the basic right of every Ohio parent to choose how they want their child educated. Having said that, when the State funds any school then standards must be established and enforced.
I was given the honor and privilege to Chair the bi-partisan joint committee on college affordability which completed its work on September 27 of this year. The report was submitted to the Governor, President of the Senate and Speaker of the House. It is a public document that outlines 21 pages of recommendations to continue to reduce the cost of all post-secondary options to further workforce development in Ohio. Any reader of this questionnaire that wants a copy of the report can contact my office at Wilson@ohiosenate.gov.
I believe that my experience as a U.S. Navy Officer, CEO of a community bank, Lebanon city school board member, trustee of Miami University, a member of the 4th district of the Federal Reserve Board and a community leader have positioned me to successfully serve as an Ohio State Senator. I am committed to using these experiences to fight for the best interest of the citizens of the 7th district and the State of Ohio.
I do not support full legalization of marijuana. Studies I have read fail to convince me that this is the right path for Ohio.
I believe in the sanctity of human life and that includes a human being in the womb, I have always been and continue to be a strong Right to Life Believer.

School safety is the #1 issue in the 7th district. While our state and local school officials have worked very, very hard on this important issue, we can do more. If we can protect airports and government buildings then we can better protect schools. I support controlled entrances, resource officers, mental health professionals which are strategies being employed by local school boards as they determine what is best for the safety of their students, teachers and staff.
My basic belief on this issue is that without the second amendment the rest of the constitution is worthless. We can solve today’s problems without eroding our second amendment rights.
The previous administration left Ohio with a tremendous loss of jobs, an eight billion dollar deficit and no raining day fund. Sacrifices were made and all three of these problems have been addressed. We now can again enter into a time of more robust infrastructure investment. I will continue to meet with Township Trustees, City and Village Councils, School Boards and County Officials to better address their needs. I will do all of this keeping in mind importance of local control.
I am an optimistic, hardworking problem solver that has no other goal than to be the best representative of the needs and values of the citizens of the 7th district.