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 80

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  • Candidate picture

    DJ Byrnes
    (Dem)

  • Jena Powell
    (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 Secretary of Miami County Democratic Party; Piqua Parks Board; Piqua Government Academy Graduate
Education River Valley High School Class of 2005 University of Montana (Some) Ohio State University (Some)
Wealth inequality and inadequate healthcare. More and more Ohioans are working 40+ hours a week and discovering no matter how much they toil, that work isn't enough to feel comfortable in a world of rising housing and healthcare costs.

Corporate welfare, tax cuts for the rich, and stripping rural cities of funding have created wealth inequality in this region unseen since the Gilded Ages and dilutes the American Dream. We will return that money to municipalities and alleviate the tax burden off middle- and working-class families.

With healthcare, I will be relentless in advocating a single-payer system, whether at the state or federal level, that will provide our workers with universal care. Nobody pays more and receives less for healthcare than Americans, and a trip to the doctor shouldn't bankrupt a family. That system won't arrive overnight, however, and we could at least start with full funding of our county health departments so residents don't have to travel 40+ miles to regional hospitals for basic medical needs.
I will bring jobs to Ohio by investing in our people. Fortune 500 companies don't want to move to cities without vibrant communities, reliable broadband internet and educated workers.

We have been deregulating businesses and cutting taxes on the wealthy for three decades, and wages have stagnated while businesses and young people flee our communities. We can create environments conducive to business—communities where everyone is paid a living wage and has access to affordable healthcare—by concentrating on the everyday needs of workers. This is how it used to be in the 60's and 70's when this region's industrial power was at its height.

I do not support JobsOhio due to lack of accountability to the public. For example, its executives gave themselves $1.9 million in raises in 2016 after revenue dropped 10%. Politicians should focus on improving the lives of everyday people, not funneling public money to the Big Business interests that fund their campaigns.
The minimum wage of $8.30 an hour is a slap in the face to every worker in the state. That comes to $1,328 a month—before taxes! How do you live on that as even a single person? The truth is you can't.

The minimum wage should be enough for somebody willing to work 40 hours a week to save money and put a roof over their head. Considering it would be over $22 an hour if it had merely kept up with inflation since 1968, the minimum wage should be at least $15 an hour.

Raising the minimum wage is the surest way in economics to raise wages of all workers. And the best part is the money goes directly into the pockets of workers who will stimulate our economy by spending it on basic, everyday things instead of hoarding wealth in an overseas bank account.
The skills gap is a direct result of Republicans slashing the funding of public education. When we fully fund our schools, that pipeline will provide businesses with the talented and diverse workforce they seek.

Increasing the minimum wage also forces businesses to provide better wages to workers across the board. Increased salaries will allow them to draw upon a higher class of worker.

Because there is nothing the Ohio worker can't do; so I don't see it as a skill gap but rather a connectivity gap.
I will fight against any tax increases on the middle and working classes. The wealthy, however, have enjoyed a long and prestigious run of low income taxes in this state, and that has diluted our communities of needed funds. I will support raising the income tax on corporations and the richest 1% to fund schools and infrastructure projects.
Governor Kasich's expansion of Medicaid will go down as the greatest move of his two terms, and it's something that should be protected at all costs. While the other side bandies about "work restrictions," it's important that residents realize those merely serve to penalize poor people seeking access to adequate healthcare.

Medicaid expansion didn't solve the opioid crisis, but the casualties would have been much, much worse had Ohio not expanded its social safety net. If expansion is stripped, we will continue to pay for the crisis when addicts start going to the emergency room to seek care.
The opioid epidemic has personally affected me and one of the driving forces that got me into this race. A lot of politicians seem to think if they continue to turn a blind eye, this crisis will solve itself. They obviously have never looked the beast of addiction in the eye.

To solve this problem, we must have the political courage to do what must be done: Which is suing the corporate pharmaceutical companies that unleashed this epidemic by flooding our state with highly addictive pills that they bribed doctors to tell us were not.

Only then will we have the resources needed to fund the rehabilitation and job programs that will be needed to rid us of this monstrosity.

We also need to explore non-traditional options. Opioid abuse went down in Colorado when that state legalized recreational marijuana. If we're going to tighten controls on addictive painkillers, we need to make sure non-addictive options are readily available.
Ohio lawmakers have pushed the buck for long enough. It's been over two decades since the Ohio Supreme Court ruled the state's funding of schools was illegal. That it has continued this long is a disgrace to a state that professes to care about its kids.

A majority of our teachers spend thousands of dollars of their own money on basic supplies for their students. Kids are coming home with bills to attend public schools. That's unacceptable to me.

We should at least start by guaranteeing a $50,000 salary for our teachers. We can't saddle young people with thousands of dollars of college debt and then expect them to choose a financially insolvent career. Guaranteeing a $50,000 starting salary would go a long way to ensuring our state attracts the best and brightest to teach our students.

Because I have the utmost faith in Ohio's teachers. We just need to do a better job at getting them the supplies they need to do they job we expect of them.
We can't continue to fund our schools on the back of property owners in the district. It is a recipe for inequality that has played out in our state for the last two decades.

Schools in areas of high poverty need more resources. Their students are more likely to come to come from broken, food-insecure homes. How can we expect them to learn in underfunded environments that lack basic 21st-century commodities like air conditioning?

A school's zip code shouldn't define what kind of education your kid gets. I'm not interested in holding districts "accountable," I'm interested in getting them the resources they need to do their job. We hire qualified teachers in every district. It's time we listened to them.
I support universal pre-k and consider it one of the biggest planks to my education platform. I am in favor of any program that puts resources into the hands of organizations charged with educating our youth. It's also important that we prioritize children from low-income families, because they are much less likely to get those resources at home.
I am a tireless advocate of public schools and don't think any public money earmarked for education should be spent on private institutions. I am also suspicious of any for-profit charter school, as I do not think our children's education is something that should be profited upon.

Ohio's education ranking has fallen from fifth to 23rd in six years of Republican rule. That is a direct result of their attacks on public education, headlined by the $189 million they gave away to the now-defunct Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow, a for-profit online charter school incapable of proving attendance.

So yes, while I support school choice, I do not if it comes at the expense of public schools as I consider them to be one of the greatest institutions ever erected in this country.
We must end corporate welfare and tax cuts to the wealthy that Republicans then use as a fiscal launching pad to attack funding to institutions of higher learning.

Those attacks have spurred higher tuitions as schools realized private lenders would bridge the affordability gap to students, which created the student debt bubble that grows every year.

Because if we want our future leaders to have the best possible education this state can offer, we need to make it affordable to everyone—not just those people with parents wealthy enough to subsidize their education.
I believe this district needs a fighter willing to stand up to the status quo. Not new faces on old politics.

As someone who has worked all sorts of odd jobs to make ends meet, I have developed a deep understanding and empathy with the everyday struggles that affect workers and their families. I am the only candidate that has attended a K-12 public school and lived outside my parent's house. I also have more ideas than deregulating energy companies, giving money away to those that already have plenty and attacking women's reproductive rights.

Most importantly, I am not beholden to corporate interests and party bosses that have blocked meaningful legislation and engaged in wonton corruption. When the curtains are pulled back on my campaign, the public will see that only individuals and labor unions financed my campaign. I am proud to be the only candidate in this race that didn't accept unaccountable dark money because I believe in clean campaign finance.
I support the legalization of industrial hemp products and recreational marijuana. It is no more dangerous than alcohol, and should be regulated and taxed just like it. We could use the billion raised towards opioid rehabilitation centers, job training programs, infrastructure, and schools.

Considering other states have legalized cannabis and more will do so soon, every day Ohio remains in the Stone Age is another day of lost revenue and jobs. It's time for Ohio to be on the forefront of social change—not behind it.
I support women's reproductive rights and am against any attack on them. I'm against Ohio spending millions of dollars every year defending ridiculous laws passed by the Ohio Legislature that get laughed out of federal court.

Opponents will never outlaw abortion in Ohio. They will only outlaw access to safe medical procedures for middle- and working-class women. My goal is also a society of zero abortions, but I have a practical plan to get there by increasing access to birth control and non-abstinence sexual education programs.
We must advocate for responsible gun ownership. Owning an assault rifle should require an additional permit. If someone is convicted of spousal abuse, they shouldn't be allowed to own weaponry.

This issue also goes back to lack of access to mental healthcare. How many tragedies could have been prevented if shooters had previous access to adequate care? Sadly, we may never know.

These two things alone would do more to quell school shootings in America than arming and training every teacher. Because sadly, we are the only country where these tragedies regularly happen. We should look at how those countries avoid these incidents instead of doubling-down on more guns in our schools.
I do not favor Stand Your Ground laws. They lead to increased gun deaths and more mayhem, and I consider Ohio's current laws adequate. I also support the right to carry concealed weapons.

And as a gun-owner, I favor responsible gun ownership. I am for universal background checks and banning bump stocks. I also support red flag laws in cases of domestic violence. I do not believe in banning assault weapons, but rather that an additional permit should be needed before purchasing one.
As part of the Piqua Government Academy, I got a front-row seat to the effects of Republicans stripping funding from our municipalities. We have talented people on the ground across our district, and instead of listening to their needs, the state took hundreds of millions of dollars for them and bragged about "balancing the budget."

The state now sits on a $2.6 billion rainy day fund while our cities continue to try do more with less. Workers in this state pay taxes for services, not so their money can sit in an account upon which they earn no interest.

I got into politics because I love working with talented people and solving problems affecting society. Touring my district, I have heard too many gripes about past representatives that had great things to say during election season but couldn't be found shortly thereafter.

I plan to be an effective state representative because I will always prioritize what I'm hearing from the local level, regardless of political persuasion. Every mayor and city manager in this district will have my personal phone number, and they will know that I care about their cities and villages and will do everything in my power to help them successfully do their job.
I am running to put working families back in charge. Rural Ohio deserves a new class of politician—one not beholden to corporate interests and party bosses. Electing me would deliver one of the most shocking results in state history, and I will use that newfound clout to advance an agenda that benefits the many, not the few.
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