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Ohio House District 42

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  • Candidate picture

    Niraj Antani
    (Rep)

  • Candidate picture

    Zach Dickerson
    (Dem)

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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 State Representative since 2014. Born and raised in the 42nd District.
Education The Ohio State University, Bachelor of Arts.
The heroin epidemic has devastated our families, particularly in the Dayton area. We have a responsibility to do everything we can to save lives. In my opinion, there are three major areas to improve upon: getting drugs off our streets, putting dealers and traffickers in jail, and treating those addicted. We need to give law enforcement more resources to get drugs off our streets and out of our community. We must increase penalties on dealers and traffickers. We also need to provide more availability of treatment to those afflicted with substance abuse.

As Secretary of State Jon Husted says, if we were number 1 in jobs and education, we would not be number 1 in heroin deaths. Thus, we must continue to cut taxes to grow our economy and support our community colleges to help create a skilled workforce. In doing so, we are providing for the future of our community. At the Statehouse, we should work every day to make our economy stronger, and thereby creating prosperity for all Ohioans.
The private sector creates jobs, not the government. However, we can create a business friendly environment. In order to achieve this, we have to continue to cut Ohio's income tax, and other taxes, such as the commercial activities tax. As well, we must have a skilled workforce. Without this, there will be no one for a company moving in to hire. It's absolutely critical to help those unemployed get the skills they need for one of the many in demand jobs. In addition, Ohio should cut regulations that hamper job growth. Regulations in Ohio have grown too much, and a holistic review should be done, followed by cutting the regulations that are deemed to be slowing economic growth. We should also capitalize on our strengths. Dayton has a strong logistics and manufacturing presence, and we can do everything in our power to help us sustain and grow those industries in our region.
I do not believe in government mandated wages. They actually drive wages down, allowing a minimum wage to be paid, instead of a higher wage that the market would demand.
I have been a leader in workforce development in the legislature. I am leading a 4 bill package to solve the workforce issues in the trucking industry, which is the number 1 in demand job in Ohio and in the Dayton region. I have worked to support our community colleges, which are providing skills for all in demand jobs. We must do a lot more in supporting and reforming our community colleges in order to close the skills gap.
I absolutely support further reductions. In fact, Ohio should strive to eliminate our state income tax. States without an income tax like Tennessee, Texas, and Florida have booming economies. Taxes constrain growth and limit opportunities for hardworking families. Ohio should seek to cut the income tax for all brackets, poor, middle class, and rich, until it is eliminated. I am proud to be the only candidate in this race that has signed a pledge to you, the taxpayer, that I will oppose all proposed tax increases. I will continue to stand for tax cuts and against tax increases at the Statehouse
Our focus should be helping those on Medicaid expansion get up and off of Medicaid, and into well compensated jobs that provide private insurance. Too often the debate is about cutting the welfare rolls. However, the best way to get someone off of welfare, is to get them the training needed for a well compensated job. That's why I supported instituting work requirements for able-bodied individuals in the expansion population. As well, I will soon be introducing a bill that would create a program that would give those on Medicaid the tools and help necessary to access more training in order to get a good paying job
Ohio should tackle this epidemic in three stages.

First, we must give law enforcement the resources needed to take drugs off our streets. Whether it is a data intelligence center, more drug dogs to sweep mail facilities for drugs coming from China, or simply more officers on the street to find drugs, our law enforcement community needs our support to fight this epidemic.

Second, if you deal or traffic these deadly drugs, you should go away to prison for life. Period.

Finally, we always should find a way to give treatment to those who need it. Ohio needs to find and implement the most successful treatment program. For too long, we have had a debate over which medically assisted treatment works best. Every person afflicted with substance abuse deserves to have access to a program that works.
Education is the key to success. Unfortunately, our public education system has been broken for too long, which hurts our children. We have too much standardized testing, too many mandates on teachers and school districts, and not enough local control. I have successfully advocated to cut a number of standardized state tests, and will continue to advocate that more be cut. As well, we should reform how teachers are evaluated to empower them to teach, instead of putting unnecessary pressures on them. In addition, we must relieve school districts of unfunded mandates, and allow local communities to make decisions about their school districts. Everything we do in regards to policy around schools should be focused on student success. Children are the future of our community, and we need to provide them with the best tools for success.
Testing is one form of assessment, but should not be the only one used in evaluating our students and schools. We must also do more to address social determinants that stem from poverty, such as hunger and housing.
Early childhood education is important. Education at all levels is incredibly important. We must fund them effectively at all levels.
I am for school choice. Parents should have educational choices.
As the Vice-Chair of the Higher Education and Workforce Development Committee, I have been leading on making higher education affordable and increasing its quality. Our public 4-year universities have ballooned their tuition and other costs in the last decade. I have successfully fought to cap tuition for the last 3 years, and we must continue to cap tuition for as long as possible to contain costs. Further, universities must be required to submit to performance audits, so that cost efficiency can be found and implemented. As well, we should freeze the hiring of all administrators. Administrative bloat at universities has skyrocketed, leading in unnecessary positions that costs universities hundreds of thousands of dollars. We can also cut costs by creating more 2+2 programs, where students attend a community college for 2 years, and then finish their degree at a university. Higher education needs dramatic reform in order to make college affordable and our students competitive.
I have great respect for my opponent and anyone who seeks to serve their community through elected office. I have lived in my community for my entire life. This community gave the opportunity for my family to achieve the American Dream. I have taken the values from our community to the Statehouse, and I am proud of my record. I have stood on strong conservative values and principles at the Statehouse. From cutting taxes, to defending the sanctity of life, to reforming higher education, I have been able to deliver results for our community. However, we have a lot more to accomplish, and I believe I am the only candidate in this race that has the ability to stand strong on conservative principles to deliver results to win Ohio's future for your family.
I am against the legalization of marijuana for recreational purposes. As well, we must stop these out of state interests from coming into Ohio and buying our ballot. Too many out of state people are trying to legalize marijuana through the use of the initiative amendment and statue process. This is dangerous for Ohioans, and the process must be reformed to prevent this.
I am 100% pro-life. I am proud to have been the only candidate in the race to be endorsed by the Ohio Right to Life PAC and Right to Life Coalition of Ohio. I have voted for and co-sponsored every pro-life bill since my time in the legislature, including defunding Planned Parenthood, the Heartbeat Bill, the Pain Capable bill, the Down Syndrome bill, and more. Protecting the sanctity of life must be a priority at the Statehouse, and I am fighting to make it a priority every day. I will soon be introducing a bill to have the science of the development of the unborn child in the womb taught in school. If we teach our children this science, that a unborn child in the womb's heart beats, that they feel pain, and more, it will help create a culture of life. I will always stand strong on life issues and dedicate my time to protecting the unborn.
We must address the culture of violence that exists in our society. As a conservative, I do not believe government can solve every problem, but rather government should get out of the way to allow society to fix the problems we have. Our churches are leading the way on many issues, and reversing the culture of violence is one of them. More practically, our school buildings should be made safe by single point entry and controlled access. As well, we should provide the resources for more school resource police officers to look after the safety of the students.
I support the 2nd Amendment. I do not believe we need any more restrictions on the 2nd Amendment. Law abiding firearm owners should not be punished because criminals will seek out a way to access a firearm no matter the law, because they're just that- law breakers. I will continue to support the 2nd Amendment.
I have been a leader in fighting to restore the local government fund to 2011 levels.
I was born and raised in this community, and I am proud of that. It is truly an honor to be able to represent the community I've lived in my entire life at the Statehouse. I believe my constituents want me to be accessible, to listen, to work hard for them, to sponsor bills and vote for bills that fix the problems they face, and to stand on conservative principles and values. I work hard to do this every day. I am dedicated to protecting the interests of my constituents. Just as no one is, I am not perfect. I strive every day to learn from my constituents, and to improve myself to be a better State Representative for them every day.
Experience After graduating law school, I joined LexisNexis here in Miamisburg and I've been with the company for 10 years.
Education B.F.A., Texas State J.D., University of Denver
Corruption is a huge issue facing our state government. The largest scandal in Ohio history involving the ECOT online charter school has wasted millions of tax dollars. Politicians took political contributions and looked the other way. We also have the Payday Lending scandal that forced the Republican Speaker of the House to resign. The common element here is the corruption of career politicians. We need to clean house and send new people to Columbus.

We also need to do a better job of supporting our public schools. On average, our teachers spend $600 out of their own pocket every year to buy supplies for their classrooms. And the lack of state funding means local property taxes keep going up. The state needs to step up and provide better support for public education. Ohio was ranked 5th in the nation for our schools and we’ve fallen to 22nd. We need to turn that around.
Support for small businesses and entrepreneurship is the best way to create jobs. I don’t want to rely on Amazon or other big corporations to bring jobs here. We can create them on our own. JobsOhio is doing reasonably well in their mission to boost our economy. But the law creating the group exempted it from public-records laws and government oversight. That’s a problem. If our tax dollars are being spent there, I want to make sure that money is spent right.
A minimum wage job was never intended to be a career for people. But since the 2008 recession, most of the new jobs created in our state are minimum wage jobs. In the Dayton area, 7 of the 10 most common jobs don’t pay enough to feed a family of three. That’s why I support an increase in the minimum wage to $15/hr that’s phased in over time. If we want to reduce the need for social welfare programs, people need to make a living wage so they can support themselves without government assistance.
We need to do a better job of promoting and encouraging the 900 apprenticeship programs in Ohio. There are tremendous opportunities for people to earn money while they learn a trade, graduate with no debt, and have a job waiting for them. For example, we have a severe shortage of welders. And those are good paying jobs. But we don’t do enough to promote and encourage people to consider a career in the skilled trades.

We also need make higher education more affordable. That's why I support tuition caps on fee increases and support for needs-based funding like the Ohio College Opportunity Grant. By 2020, 64% of Ohio jobs will require an associate's degree but only 37% of our population will have one. Ohio college cost is 11% higher than the national average for four-year public schools, and 14% higher for community colleges. If we want to solve the skills gap, we have to make education more affordable.
Fiscal responsibility is important to me. And part of being responsible is recognizing that you cannot cut your way to prosperity. Kansas is a perfect example. They slashed their income tax with the plan to ultimately eliminate it. And it turned out to be an economic catastrophe. They had to reverse their cuts. Ohio’s income tax is already one of the lowest in the country.

I would like to reform other parts of our tax code. It is littered with special interest loopholes for oil and gas companies, movie studios, and people with partial ownership of private jets. We don’t need any of that. We’ve even got a special loophole for people that sell eggs. We need to stop giving certain businesses or industries special treatment. Ohio needs a fair and simple tax code. This is an area where I have agreement with the conservative Buckeye Institute. Eliminate the loopholes and treat businesses equally. If we broaden the tax base, we can lower the tax rate.
Yes, Medicaid expansion should continue. It has helped over 1 million Ohioans get access to care. It has also been critical in the fight against opioids to get people addiction treatment. I met a young mother who was once homeless and living on the street. She was addicted to drugs and when she finally decided to seek treatment, Medicaid is how she did it. Access to healthcare is not a luxury. It is a necessity. And although we still have a lot of work to do controlling cost, Medicaid expansion was the right thing to do.

We need to protect Medicaid expansion. It has been critical in providing access to addiction treatment. We need more support for law enforcement so they can stop the drug dealers. And we need a partnership between treatment centers, courts, and local employers to help people with drug convictions get jobs. People like Paul Wise, a 29 yr old with a felony drug charge. Paul got a job at Electripak in Miamisburg because someone decided that the bad decisions in his past should not destroy his future. His story, recently featured in the Dayton Daily News, gives us a model for the state. If someone with a felony drug charge wants to turn their life around, we should be willing to help them do it. Employment is part of the path to recovery.
We need to quit moving the goal posts on graduation requirements. The state needs to set a requirement and stick with it. We need to move away from our reliance on so many standardized tests. Students, teachers and parents all agree it's gotten out of hand. We need to do a better job of state funding for education. On average, teachers in Ohio spend $600 of their own money every year buying supplies for the classroom. Other teachers resort to crowdfunding websites like GoFundMe to take donations from strangers. And lastly, we need to hold charter schools accountable to the same level of excellence as public schools. The state has been hands-off and it resulted in the ECOT scandal which wasted millions of our tax dollars and left thousands of kids without an education.
Ranking schools based strictly on test performance is a flawed system. The tests we use don't always accurately reflect whether the kids are going to be successful when they graduate. We need to broaden the scope of how we evaluate student success and school performance.

To the larger question about improving educational outcomes, the Ohio Supreme Court told the state government that our funding system for public education was unconstitutional 20 yrs ago. And to the disappointment of many teachers and parents, the problem hasn't been fixed. Public schools get most of their funding from local property taxes. So it's no surprise that affluent communities with high property values have better test scores. They have more money for schools. If we want to improve educational outcomes for all students regardless of wealth, we have to move away from reliance on local property taxes. Which is exactly what the Supreme Court said to do. But our legislators have ignored this problem and kicked the can down the road for 20 years. I'm ready to work on this issue and find a solution.

Groundwork Ohio is exactly right. Early childhood education is critical. 90% of a child’s brain develops before their 5th birthday. Montgomery County is so lucky to have our own Preschool Promise program to guarantee access to preschool education. We need to bolster our support for programs like that around the state. Kids that start kindergarten ready to learn are more likely to graduate from high school and earn higher wages in adulthood.
Some charter schools are doing great work. But they are being overshadowed by schools like ECOT that steal taxpayer money. We need stronger oversight of charter schools to protect our tax dollars. And we need to hold them to the same standard of excellence that we hold our public schools. We also need to change how we fund them. Under our current system, public schools lose funding every time a student goes to a charter school. This creates constant uncertainty and budget strain on the public schools. We need to fix that.
Learn to Earn Dayton is working to make sure all high school graduates fill out their FAFSA application for access to financial aid. It is important that we continue that program. In addition to FAFSA, we have the Ohio College Opportunity Grant which provides need-based funding to students. But that funding has been cut and is currently at 60% of what it was 10 years ago. By 2020, more than half of Ohio jobs will require an associate's degree or higher. If we want to meet that need, we need to make education accessible to all our students.
In June of this year, the Dayton Daily News reported that my opponent, Niraj Antani, was working with a lobbyist to kill a bill proposed by a fellow Republican. The bill created consumer protections to stop predatory lending. It had strong bipartisan support. But after taking campaign donations from Payday Lenders, Niraj Antani decided to fight for special interests instead of the people in this district. That was a total betrayal. It is a classic example of the corrupting influence of money in politics. Why am I more qualified to hold this office? Because my vote cannot be bought. When politicians start representing their donors instead of their voters, it's time to send them home.

As of today, recreational marijuana is legal in 9 states and medical marijuana is legal in 29 states. I believe people are coming around to the conclusion that legalization has a two-fold benefit. We could save an extraordinary amount of taxpayer money on police, courts, and jails and redirects those resources for more serious crimes. We could also make an extraordinary amount of tax revenue. Colorado brought in $247 million in 2017. That money was returned to communities for schools, infrastructure and public health programs. I would like to see Ohio do the same. I support putting it on the ballot and letting voter decide.
No one thinks abortion is a good idea. It is a difficult and often emotionally scarring experience for a woman. But at the end of the day, a woman’s body should be her domain. I will work with my friends in the pro-life movement to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies. But I will not put the government between a woman and her doctor. I trust women to make their own healthcare choices and I wish my opponent did the same. But Niraj Antani cosponsors a bill that would totally ban abortion in Ohio. He would force a rape victim to endure the pregnancy of her attacker. That is wildly extreme policy and women in Ohio deserve better.
Earlier this year my opponent said we could achieve school safety by letting students bring a gun to school for self protection. That is dangerous and irresponsible policy. I support trained and professional School Resource Officers having a gun, but not kids. Hiring those officers requires funding and the state should make sure schools have the resources to do it. Moreover, we need upgrades to building safety like classroom door lockdown systems. These simple tools can be purchased for under $100 and allow teachers to easily barricade a door.
I am a hunter and a gun owner. I have a CCW permit. I support the 2nd Amendment and I believe we can strike a balance between protecting gun ownership and protecting public safety. Many people think we need to enforce the laws that are on the books and I agree. For example, we can strengthen the background check system. Many Ohio courts don't submit felony convictions into the background system electronically. It can take months to do it by paper. We need to get them all on the electronic system to keep guns away from felons. Most gun owners agree that's a good idea. But my opponent co-sponsors legislation to eliminate background checks. His views are too extreme. The gun owners of Ohio can trust me to protect their right to own a firearm and do it in a responsible way.
Every person in Ohio pays sales tax and income tax to the state. And for 80 years, a portion of that money was returned to our communities in something called the Local Government Fund. For 80 years, that fund was an important source of money for vital services like police and roads. But 10 years ago, the Republicans who control the state government cut the Local Government Fund in half. They kept the money in Columbus instead of sending it back to our communities. That was wrong. I believe more of your tax money should be spent here on the services that benefit you. Democrats have a bill waiting in the legislature to fix the problem and if you send me to Columbus I'll vote for it.
Our state faces a lot of challenges. Whether it’s the opioid crisis, education funding, or job creation, those challenges are best met with bipartisanship. And it seems to be in short supply. As a Democrat that grew up in a Republican family, I developed a pretty balanced view of politics. I know that Republicans are not my enemy. I think we need to work together and stop fighting. I put my name on the ballot because I think we can do better. I am a practical, moderate, reasonable Democrat. I will take the best ideas from both parties and do what’s right. If you think we need more civility and bipartisanship in politics, I’d appreciate your vote.