Two Republican challengers hope to unseat three-term State Rep. Debbie Phillips, D-Albany, in the November election for the 94th Ohio House District seat, which includes Meigs County and parts of Athens, Washington and Vinton counties.
But first, the two have to face off in the May 6 primary to determine who will run against Phillips.
Yolan Dennis, a registered nurse from Fleming, and Dan Lantz, a lumber buyer from Pomeroy, each have their own individual plans for representing the 94th District.
Yolan Dennis, 59, of 457 Salster Road in Fleming, is a registered nurse who decided to throw her hat in the ring for the 94th District seat now that her five children are grown up.
"I'm not a politician by any means, but people have told me I have common sense and I'm very involved with the community," she said.
Occupation: Registered Nurse .
Family: Husband Lloyd; children Becky, Allison, Ryan, Jennifer and Lori.
Key campaign issue(s): Job creation, education.
Community involvement and activities:
Certified lay speaker for Tunnel United Methodist Church
School volunteer for 15 years with Warren Local Schools; PTA officer.
Member of National Rifle Association.
Occupation: Lumber buyer for DJM Hardwoods & Veneer in Henderson, W.Va.
Family: Wife Rhea; children Sarah, Julia and Estacia.
Key campaign issue: Job creation.
Community involvement and activities:
Past fire chief and president of Scipio Township Volunteer Fire Department.
Trustee for Mt. Hermon United Brethren Church in Pomeroy.
Led signature collection and campaign in Meigs and Vinton counties for Issue 3.
By running, Dennis said she hopes to bring a conservative voice to the area, with plans to focus on bringing in jobs and improving education. She said she also wants to be an advocate for farmers, small business owners, skilled workers and energy producers in Ohio.
"In this area, with the Marcellus shale industry being so big, I am a supporter of that," she said. "That can bring a lot of good paying jobs to our area and support the region in a lot of different ways."
Dennis said she recognizes that many people across the state, and the Southeast Ohio region in particular, are hurting when it comes to jobs.
"We need to find opportunities for those people to work," she said.
In addition to jobs, Dennis said though her own five children received an excellent education in the Warren Local district, there is still room for improvement on the state level.
"The Common Core is a big issue right now and even though I still have research to do on it, there is a big concern because it takes away the local decision-making powers of our educators," she said. "Parents need to be involved and have choices, too."
Raised and currently residing on a farm, Dennis said she plans to turn her attention to agricultural regulations and growth in the area along with putting in effort to increase jobs and strengthen education.
Dennis is a graduate of Waterford High School, Washington Technical College School of Practical Nursing and Bethesda Hospital Nursing School in Cincinnati.
As the primary election closes in, Dennis, who has never served in a political office, said she is just doing her best to get her name out and raise funds.
"I believe in honesty and faithfulness and being open with the voters," she said. "If you let people know where you stand, they will respect that, they just want you to be honest."
Dan Lantz, 49, of 40216 State Route 643 in Pomeroy, currently works as a lumber buyer at DJM Hardwoods & Veneer in Henderson, W.Va., and is also hoping to bring jobs and new entrepreneurs to the district if elected.
"The main thing I want to insinuate in my running is that I'm pro jobs," he said.
Lantz said he feels that the high joblessness rates that exist in the area could be helped by creating relationships with the oil and gas industries.
"Instead of being a barrier, we need to work with these people and assist them in coming into the area," he said.
He said he has heard from opposition saying that the process of fracking will have a negative effect on the water quality.
"The chemicals found in the wastewater, I can't help but think that with the science we have available to us and with the use of a proper filtration system, that somewhere down the road we could use it as a resource to benefit industry," Lantz said.
The spark to run for office came when Lantz organized a town hall meeting in fall 2013 that helped lead the Ohio Department of Transportation to keep sections of Ohio 684 and 692 near Pageville in its jurisdiction after initial plans to abandon them.
"This is still America; we just have to speak up," Lantz said.
He said he is planning on going door to door and using social and news media to get his message out.
"I'm a working man with a full-time job running a log yard, but if the people of the 94th District give me the opportunity to represent them, then I will do so," Lantz said.
With residential, business and employment ties in all of the counties in the district, Lantz said he knows he can represent everyone well, and plans on making sure all views are taken in when making decisions.
"I want to get as many viewpoints as I can, because that's how the government is supposed to work," he said. "I want to try to put the pieces together so we can create new entrepreneurs in the 94th District to benefit the generations to come and bring more jobs here."
Lantz is a graduate of Marietta High School, and obtained a sawyer certificate from Hocking College, where he eventually went on to co-own Albany Lumber for five years before getting involved in the opening of DJM in 1998.