Both state Rep. Andy Thompson and candidate Charlie Daniels feel they match the temperament and values of the newly formed 95th House of Representatives District, the seat for which they're competing in November.
Thompson, a Republican from Marietta serving his first term in the General Assembly, described the district as a pretty conservative area whose residents are pro-life, pro-Second Amendment and supportive of small business.
He said his political philosophy is to "emphasize small business, try to keep government regulation reasonable and taxes low and let (businesses) lead the recovery."
Ohio House of Representatives candidate Charlie Daniels, right, shakes hands with City of Marietta wastewater plant employee Mike Durham.
Daniels, a Democrat from St. Clairsville making his first run for public office, said he's a working-class guy like most of the residents in the district.
"We have the same mindset," he said. "We just need a common-sense approach."
Although he's the incumbent, Thompson, like Daniels, is venturing into new territory after legislative district lines were redrawn as a result of the 2010 Census.
Family:Wife, Jade; children, Annalea, 22, Nat, 20, Gus, 12.
Occupation: Co-publisher and director of sales, Bird Watcher's Digest.
Past offices: Marietta City Council, 2006-2010; House of the Representatives, 2011-present.
Residence: St. Clairsville.
Family: Son, Nick, 27.
Occupation: Fired from job as corrections officer at Belmont Correctional Institution last month over conflict with state law preventing classified employees from running for office.
Past offices: First run.
"In effect, you end up having to cover the needs of eight counties," Thompson said.
Like the 93rd District he currently represents, the new 95th includes a portion of Washington County - although only a quarter of Marietta - and all of Noble County. Guernsey, Monroe and part of Muskingum County have been swapped for Carroll, Harrison and a portion of Belmont County, creating a larger district geographically.
"From Marietta to Carrollton, these are beautiful cities," Daniels said. "I'm meeting everybody, and I'm telling you, we're getting a fantastic response."
The co-publisher and director of sales for Bird Watcher's Digest, the publication started by his parents in 1978, Thompson said he's enjoyed his first term in office and feels that a lot has been accomplished.
"I've been pleased to be part of some of the historic work that we've done to balance the budget, eliminate the estate tax," he said, adding the restoration of the final phase of a delayed income tax cut, the passage of the Common Sense Initiative to streamline state regulations and growth of the state's rainy day fund to the list.
"We're sending the right signals - to investors, to businesses, to individuals - that Ohio does want to be business-friendly," he said.
Thompson said his experience as a small business owner and Marietta City Councilman and on Capitol Hill after college have helped shape his abilities as a lawmaker. He also noted his wife is a teacher, as were his mother and grandmother, giving him insight into one of the important issues facing the state going forward - education.
Thompson said the state needs to have a better idea of how its schools are performing in order to ensure that no child's needs are not being met. He favors a "customer service"-like approach by listening to children and parents about their needs.
The current school funding system, declared unconstitutional multiple times for its reliance on property taxes, is likely to be a major issue for the next General Assembly.
"It's not an easy nut to crack," Thompson said. "Every proposal you come up with, somebody shoots it down and says, 'This is why it won't work.'"
Thompson said the state needs to continue to look at ways to reduce the cost of government. Senate Bill 5, a major overhaul of collective bargaining rules, was aimed at that, but Thompson said the voters spoke "pretty clearly and decisively" about that in repealing the law in November.
Still, something must change, he said, pointing to increased sharing of services - like Warren and Fort Frye Local schools opting to share a superintendent this year - as one approach.
What would also help is getting the economy running the way it should be, Thompson said. And things are headed in the right direction, with Ohio ranking fourth in the nation and first in the Midwest in job creation over the last year, according to federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.
"That's a real feather in our cap that we have managed to do that while we've been trying to reign in costs," he said.
Thompson said he feels the state has done a good job establishing regulations for the shale-drilling industry, and he opposes Gov. John Kasich's proposed severance tax on the industry.
Daniels said he's always followed politics, but only became a more active participant after submitting ideas on economic recovery and American energy policy to members of Ohio's Congressional delegation and being invited to present them at the office of Republican John Boehner, now the Speaker of the House.
Asked what his fellow Democrats might think of him making such a presentation to Boehner's staff, Daniels said, "Truthfully, I think we need to put the partisan stuff aside.
"Instead of representing an extreme agenda, we need to represent the will of the people," he said.
Studying economics in college, Daniels worked for 18 years as a corrections officer at Belmont Correctional Institution. He was fired from that job last month because of a provision of state law prohibiting certain classified employees from running for office, although Daniels said he cleared his plans with the secretary of state and Ohio Ethics Commission. For now, he's a full-time candidate.
Daniels said the two most important issues facing the General Assembly in the coming term will be the state budget and public education. The two are related, he said, criticizing the Kasich administration for "stripping" money from public education while increasing the overall size of the current biennial budget. That's causing some school districts to seek more money from voters.
"We've got ... our current administration claiming they didn't raise taxes," Daniels said. "Any time our political leadership does something that takes money out of people's pockets, they're raising taxes."
Daniels said the state needs to get back to basic priorities like education, public safety and infrastructure and not spend taxpayer money on things like a package of aid including grants, loans and tax rebates that could be worth nearly $94 million over 15 years.
"We're using taxpayer money to pay for things that aren't really the responsibility of the taxpayers," he said. "We can't afford to start a corporate welfare war with other states. You've got 49 to 1. The odds are terrible."
To improve the economy, Ohio needs to keep more of its money in the state, Daniels said. That's why he's opposed to proposals like privatizing the Ohio turnpike.
"For a chunk of money up front, we were going to basically give away years of (revenue)," he said. "Privatizing is basically outsourcing. That money leaves our economy. Those jobs leave our area."
Daniels said he believes horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing can be done safely, so he does not favor a moratorium on the practice. He does support a tax on those extracting the resources.