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Debate night

Ohio House races grab the spotlight

September 18, 2012
By Jasmine Rogers - The Marietta Times ( , The Marietta Times

From fracking, to jobs, to healthcare, the four candidates vying for two seats in Ohio's House of Representatives laid out their respective stances Monday night at the first of three League of Women Voters Candidate's Forums.

Approximately 40 area residents were on hand to watch the debate, which was moderated by Marietta College professor Dr. Suzanne Walker, and featured panelists from the Marietta/Washington County League of Women Voters, The Marietta Times, and The Anchor.

"We want to thank all of you for submitting questions to The Marietta Times, The Anchor, and The League of Women Voters," said Walker as she opened the debates.

Article Photos

Incumbent Debbie Phillips (D) and Charles Richter (R), both running for the Ohio House District 94 seat, face off during Monday night's debate on the Marietta College campus.

Though the debate was not open to public questions, the organizing institutions have been gathering community questions for a couple of weeks, said League of Women Voters member Betsy Cook.

The debate was divided into two sections, the first of which featured incumbent Democrat Debbie Phillips of Athens, and Republican challenger Charles Richter, of Little Hocking, both running for the Ohio House District 94 seat.

Speaking to healthcare, Phillips said she values several provisions of the federal Affordable Healthcare Act, such as that which makes it possible for young people to stay on their parents insurance until they are 26-years-old.

Fact Box

If you go

  • Monday's debate at the McDonough Center auditorium on the Marietta College campus featured Debbie Phillips and Charles Richter, Ohio House District 94; Andy Thompson and Charlie Daniels, Ohio House District 95. Will be on replayed on WCMO TV Oct. 4, following city council meeting and Oct. 8 at 1 p.m.
  • 7 to 8:30 p.m., Sept. 24 at the McDonough Center auditorium on the Marietta College campus featuring Charlie Wilson and Bill Johnson, U.S. House District 6; Lou Gentile and Shane Thompson, Ohio Senate District 30. Open to the public. Will replay on WCMO TV Oct. 8 at 7 p.m. and Oct. 11 at 8 p.m.
  • 7 to 8:30 p.m. Sept. 27 - Sheriff, Larry Mincks and Chris Forshey; commissioner, Cora Marshall, Ron Feathers, Peg Littler and David White; common pleas judge, Randall Burnworth and Mark Kerenyi. Event is open to the public on a limited basis only due to space constraints but will be televised live on Marietta College's WCMO. Will also replay Oct. 11 at 1 p.m. and Oct. 18 following city council.
  • If you have a question you would like to pose for the forums, send suggestions to

"We live in one of the wealthiest countries in the world and people need to have their basic needs met," she said.

Richter countered that he believes that government should help, but have a much more scaled back role in healthcare.

"We have never had a good track record with the government controlling any form of our economy," said Richter.

Phillips and Richter were also asked about their stance on Ohio House Bill 133 which allowed public lands to be leased by the oil and gas industry.

Richter sees this as an economic opportunity for Ohioans, as long as the lands and operations are strictly monitored.

"We need to make it safe, and when I say safe, I mean the CEO of the company should be able to raise his family on the site," said Richter.

Phillips on the other hand, voted against HB 133.

"Parks are important to a lot of our communities. A lot of people are looking for the opportunity to have recreation with their family, close to home," said Phillips.

The second half of the debate featured incumbent Republican Andy Thompson, of Marietta, and Democrat challenger Charlie Daniels, of St. Clairsville, who also weighed in on the controversial issue of hydraulic fracturing injection wells.

The class 2 injection wells scattered throughout the state accept fracking fluids from Ohio and other states which are not chemically tested prior to injection. However, Thompson, citing testimony from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, said he believes the wells are perfectly safe means of disposal.

"The injection wells have certain standards that Ohio has in place and thus far the experience I think has been very favorable," said Thompson, who believes the oil and gas industry offers significant economic advantages for the state of Ohio.

Daniels stated that while fracking offers economic benefits, he supports full disclosure of what is actually being put into the wells.

"We can do this in a safe way, and make sure the economy moves on," said Daniels.

Thompson also expressed concern that Daniels would raise taxes on oil and gas companies, thus pushing their business out of Ohio.

Daniels countered that he does not support taxing Ohio land owners who lease to oil and gas companies, but would favor a tax that would bring in money without economically harming Ohio citizens.

Another point of contention was whether or not Ohio should privatize certain state run programs such as prisons, liquor sales, and the Ohio Turnpike.

"I see a tremendous amount of concerns. We're talking about taking state jobs and basically selling the rights," said Daniels.

Thompson on the other hand believes that looking at each program on a case by case basis, could yield good results.

"If it is not broken, do not feel like you have to fix it. But we can look at those (prisons) that were not working effectively and see if privatizing would make more sense," said Thompson.

Monday night's debate will replay on Marietta College's WCMO TV, channel 15 on Suddenlink cable TV,, on Oct. 4, following city council meeting and Oct. 8 at 1 p.m.

Two additional candidate's forums are scheduled. Next Monday at 7 p.m. in the McDonough Auditorium, Rep. Bill Johnson, a Republican, and Demorat Charlie Wilson will face off for The U.S. House of Representatives District 6 seat, and Ohio Senate incumbent Democrat Lou Gentile will defend his seat against Republican Shane Thompson.

The second debate is open to the public and will replay on WCMO TV on Oct. 8 at 7 p.m. and Oct. 11 at 8 p.m.

Then on Sept. 27 at 7 p.m., a third debate will be televised live on WCMO.

The final debate will feature debates featuring incumbent Larry Mincks and challenger Chris Forshey for Washington County Sheriff; Peg Littler and David White for a Washington County commissioner's seat; and incumbent Cora Marshall and challenger Ron Feathers for another Washington County commissioner's seat.

The televised forum will also feature prepared statements by Washington County Judge of Common Pleas Court candidates Mark Kerenyi and Randall Burnworth.

Due to space constraints, the final debate is only open to the public on a limited basis. It will replay Oct. 11 at 1 p.m. and Oct. 18 following city council.



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