Two candidates have announced intentions to run for the Ohio House of Representatives 99th District seat in the 2020 election.
Rep. John Patterson, D-Jefferson, currently holds the seat and will step down in 2020 because he is term-limited. Richard Dana, a Democrat, and Sarah Fowler, a Republican, have both pulled petitions through the board of elections and have publicly declared at various events their intentions to run.
Those intending to run in partisan races must get 50 valid signatures from qualified electors and then submit the petitions to the Ashtabula County Board of Elections by Dec.11 in order to appear on the March 17 primary ballot. Dana and Fowler have not yet filed their petitions.
Fowler, who serves as chairman of the teaching, leading and learning committee on the state board of education, is a farmer and entrepreneur who wants less taxation and regulation, according to a press release issued Tuesday announcing her candidacy.
Fowler, who the release states has a strong education policy background to her platform, is focused on improving the local economy, preserving personal rights, and ensuring the next generation has the skills needed to succeed.
Fowler said she intends to focus on economic growth principally through tax and regulatory reform.
“The role of government is to create a consistently favorable tax and regulatory environment that enables businesses of all sizes to compete and thrive in Ohio,” she said in the news release.
Fowler also said she intends to protect rights guaranteed under the Ohio and United States constitutions.
“As your state representative, I will respect our constitutions and strive to protect our rights from infringement; especially in the critical areas of life, free speech, religious freedom and the right to bear arms,” she said.
Dana, an attorney who serves on the Geneva Schools Board of Education, said he is the most experienced candidate.
"I have a breadth of work, educational, public service and general life experiences that have prepared me to serve the citizens of Ashtabula and Geauga counties," he said. "It is this breadth of experiences that is a key difference between me and my expected opponent."
One area Dana said he has a deep concern about is public education and its funding. This is something he said he has direct experience with both as a school board member and part-time instructor at Kent State University.
Dana said cuts in education from Columbus, or the diverting of funds to support failed charter schools such as ECOT, had a negative impact in the education of children who live in more rural communities such as Ashtabula and Geauga counties. If the United States wants to remain competitive, it needs to invest in youth and preparing them for the jobs of tomorrow, he said.
"I see firsthand how decisions in Columbus filter down and effect the local community," he said.
Dana questioned Fowler's stance on public education, and he said she wants to limit the type and quality of education available to Ohio students.
Fowler, a home-schooled state board of education member who was first elected in 2012, recently made the news when she announced her opposition to social and emotional learning standards for Ohio schools. The measures were ultimately approved by the state board of education.
The Ohio Department of Education defines social and emotional learning as "the process through which children and adults acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships and make responsible decisions."
"She has been quoted as saying public education should be limited to reading, writing and basic math and beyond that the government should have no say in what type of education is received because that is something that should be decided by the parent," Dana said. "She believes there should be limits as far as what we teach our kids in the public schools."
Dana also said there are many important issues to focus on such as attempts to cut Medicaid expansions in the midst of an opioid crisis or the state's strategy of shifting tax burdens to local communities which make it difficult to fund local services and projects. People should not be fooled by the typical mantra of lower taxes and less government, he said.
"There are times when government needs to make strategic investments for the benefit of our citizens and community," Dana said.
Fowler could not be reached for comment.