Voter Guide

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

NOTE: Not all communities have issues or candidates on the ballot.

Ohio House District 53

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    Rebecca Howard

  • Candice Keller

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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 I am a lifelong Butler County resident, born and raised in Hamilton, then living and working in the Oxford and Middletown areas. For forty years, I have been an educator and consultant, working with a broad representation of children, families, college students, and early childhood professionals throughout southwest Ohio. I have also been a small business owner and an instructor at Miami University, having taught on all four Butler County campuses.
Education I attended Hamilton Public Schools, graduating from Taft High School in 1976. I have a B.Phil. in Interdisciplinary Studies with a focus in Early Childhood Education; an M.A. in Theater; and a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership, all from Miami University.
Economy/Healthcare: These are not separate issues. It is vital that we provide supports for working class families and individuals to be able to access full time, full benefit, permanent employment opportunities, including job training programs, reliable and affordable public transportation, and protections for accessible and affordable health care. It is also important to recognize the importance of small businesses as vital to the stability and strength of our communities, and ti ensure that those businesses are able to compete with large corporations through state and local development supports.

Education: The funneling of funds away from public schools and into the pockets and portfolios of for-profit charter schools is creating a crisis for our children and communities that must be addressed. We have to reform our basic school funding system, moving away from the heavy reliance on property taxes that disproportionately advantage wealthier areas, and we must stop providing state funds to for-profit schools, while holding all schools equally accountable.
It is important that Ohio maintain its status as a state that welcomes and supports innovation at all levels. Policies and programs that attract large businesses are necessary, but we also have to recognize and provide vigorous supports for small and medium businesses that anchor the character and stability of all of the “Main Streets” in our communities, as well as protect the unions that protect our labor force. I support the idea and goals of JobsOhio. We need to ensure that there is sufficient transparency in their employment and negotiation practices, and that the organization appeals to, and facilitates incentives for, smaller, family owned businesses as well as large corporations.
$12/hour now, with an increase to $15/hour by 2020.
Butler County has one of the most vibrant and effective vocational programs in the state, but we can still do more to open opportunities to high school students in addition to college. We also need better funding for adult workers who need to re-train for different careers, and provide expanded apprenticeship models for a variety of industries and professions.
I do not support further reductions. I also do not support increases on middle and working class individuals. I believe we need to look at inefficiences and the preferencing of special interests in the ways in which taxes are collected and distributed.
Absolutely. The Medicaid expansion has proven to be a fiscally responsible and effective support program. It is especially crucial in addressing the opioid crisis that has devastated many communities in southwest Ohio and elsewhere in the state.
As noted above, protecting the Medicaid expansion is one important piece of this complex puzzle. We also need to have a more comprehensive coordination among private and non-profit programs at both the state and local level to not just address rehabilitation, but to provide meaningful, long term recovery efforts for individuals and families. In addition, we need to stop trying to deal with addiction by way of prison sentences for misdemeanor, non-violent addicts, and instead provide treatment.
Funding, funding, funding. We have to stop draining funds away from public schools and into for-profit schools. We also need to address the inequities of depending on property taxes as a primary means of supporting public schools. We need to develop a multi-tiered funding approach that leverages multiple revenue streams and disperses those funds equitably. In addition, we need to shift emphasis away from rigid academic accountability standards and practices that place undue stress on students and that discourage innovative practices from teachers.
It is possible to achieve accountability through a system of locally controlled, and state approved, mechanisms for measuring student progress and teacher effectiveness. Standardized tests are not representative of the diversity of local districts, and do not respect the position of teachers as professionals who are in the best position to gauge and respond to student performance. We need a vibrant system of teacher mentoring by administrators and senior faculty to ensure that entry-level teachers are competent and accountable.
As an early childhood educator who has served children across the socio-economic spectrum, I have experienced first hand the inconsistency of funding from the state. I strongly believe the tapestry of pre-K programs in the state, from public to private to non-profit to faith based, are ready and able to provide high quality early childhood experiences for all children, but that adequate, reasonable, and equitable funding from the state is necessary for this to happen. The Ohio Approved and Step Up to Quality systems are already in place to encourage and monitor quality standards, but there needs to be consistent, stable, and equitable funding for participating programs.
When charter schools first began, they were almost always non-profit and formed in response to specific needs that local public schools were not able to meet. That changed when investors saw charter schools as a way to make money without depending on tuition payments. When the primary motivation for education is profit, then educational quality and student experience take a back seat. There has been, for a long time, a reasonable per-pupil distribution of state funds to private schools to offset the amounts that parents of private school students pay in taxes, but those funds are restricted in how they can be used (e.g., purchase of educational materials that are, technically, the property of the local school district and which must be surrendered to that district if the school closes or no longer uses the materials). That should be the extent of public support for private schools. There should be NO diversion of public funds to for-profit charter schools, and any funds that go to non-profit schools must be rigorously accounted for and monitored.
Greater support for grants and low-interest loans; move public universities away from a for-profit business model, reduce middle management, and divert those funds back toward recruiting and retaining effective faculty and providing support for innovative educational programs and student supports.
My rich experience throughout this county, working with diverse families and in multiple communities, has given me a broad and unique perspective on the challenges and successes experienced in this geographically very large district. My experience as a small business owner and university instructor, has brought me into contact with people of various backgrounds and perspectives, and has helped me to develop the ability to listen to, engage with, and respect individuals with different opinions and expectations.
Yes, full legalization, regulate distribution, and tax the profits.
I care for families and children, and believe that every child born into this world should be planned for, wanted, and given every opportunity to develop and thrive in a healthy, stable, and loving home.

I believe that it is unacceptable that the U.S. has one of the highest maternal mortality rates of any developed nation. The reasons for this are generally due to lack of accessible, affordable, and high quality prenatal care, especially in low income communities. Every time a family planning clinic is closed, it puts more women at risk. We also have an extraordinary number of children who are living in poverty, as well as children from all income levels who suffer from negligence and abuse. We can, and must, do better.

I believe that every woman has a constitutional right to decide, with her physician, what the best choices are for her and her family. That constitutional right is currently defined by "viability," which is a point that continues to evolve as science makes additional progress.

Considering all of that, I believe that the most effective way to reduce the number of women who feel that terminating a pregnancy is their only option is for public and governmental agencies to provide 1) accessible and affordable reproductive health care, including access to all reasonable forms of birth control and family planning; 2) scientifically-grounded sex education that is honest and not based in fear and misinformation; 3) guaranteed health insurance and nutrition supports for all children of all income levels, and public programs to help families that are struggling; and 4) vigorous campaigns to raise awareness of the benefits of adoption, and public supports to encourage parents to choose this as a viable option to grow their family.
Putting more guns into schools is not the answer, except for possibly increasing the number of resource officers. Equally important is to employ a greater number of counselors/psychologists, and provide training for teachers on how to recognize when students are struggling with mental health issues, and to respond quickly and decisively to episodes of bullying; and to adopt a Comprehensive, Cooperative, Anti-Violence Approach that emphasizes:

ONE: Community-based Social and Economic Support. Recognizing that family and community violence is directly linked to economic insecurity and inadequate mental health care, we must 1) have adequate funding from local, state, and federal sources to enable communities to implement and maintain robust services and programs that provide assistance to individuals and families at all income levels to facilitate intervention, addiction, and recovery programs; to insure affordable health care, including mental health services; and to provide access to affordable housing and reliable food security; 2) enact economic policies that lead to the creation of stable, equitable, full time employment opportunities.

FOCUS TWO: Education. Recognizing that anti-violence education that begins in early childhood can help to curb the choice of violence as an acceptable response to fear, anger, and frustration, and that school personnel are often able to identify students who are struggling to cope, we must 1) increase funding to school districts for counseling and intervention services, and provide meaningful diversity training for students and staff; 2) implement anti-violence education beginning in pre-K, and increase funding to provide access to high quality preschool programs that focus on social-emotional development;

FOCUS THREE: Reasonable Firearm Reform and Safety Regulations. (continued below)
I do not support a ban on "automatic weapons," and I do not support expanded stand your ground legislation.

Recognizing that easy access to firearms, especially those that facilitate a semi-automatic or “pseudo” automatic rate of fire, is a significant contributor to a culture of violence, we must--

1) require the safe and secure storage of firearms in all homes, with additional restrictions for homes with children and youth under the age of 18;

2) require universal background checks for all individuals, in all circumstances;

3) enact Red Flag laws that enable family members and law enforcement to identify individuals who may pose a risk to themselves and others; and that will prohibit anyone arrested, indicted, or convicted of domestic violence from owning a firearm;

3) require that sales of ammunition be tracked the same way that we track the sale of pseudoephedrine or ammonium nitrate, with limits on the amount of ammunition any individual may purchase in a calendar year, and require a total ban on the private purchase or possession of high-capacity magazines, as well as conversion kits or accessories that can easily and cheaply turn a semi-automatic into a practical facsimile of an automatic weapon.
I believe we need to return funding levels to local governments, rather than continuing to pad the "rainy day fund" that is maintained at the state level by diverting funds from local governments through business incentives that advantage communities that have areas of development over rural communities and townships.
My mission is to bring responsible, reasonable representation to the 53rd district. I will listen to, be available to, and represent ALL constituents, not just those who agree with me.
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