So what gives? Why should we as a district want new leadership instead of what we have now?
Taxes Have Gone UP
That's right, taxes have gone up despite what current leaders want you to think. They have voted to REDUCE Local Government Fund dollars, funds that the state pays local communities to operate. No doubt we have all seen local funding for our schools reduced. Again, our taxes have gone up as a result.
How? Because every shortfall to funding our local organizations, whether it be your schools or your community, will at some point require those funds TO BE REPLACED TO CONTINUE OPERATIONS. While it looks fiscally responsible at the state level, really they are TAKING THE TARGET OFF OF THEIR BACKS and passing it off on local leaders to increase taxes on their residents.
As Representative of the 89th District, I will use my experience as Mayor to work to restore original funding of the Local Government Fund, bringing OUR TAX DOLLARS back home where they belong, and ensure that the State pays it's fair share to communities.
School Funding Has STALLED
In the last 18 months First Energy Corporation has informed the area that they intend to move out of the power generation business due to significant loss of revenues. A sale or bankruptcy is looming, but something even worse is - DEVALUATION. The local school district and Ottawa County will be SHREDDED by this devaluation, with an estimated $5 MILLION DOLLAR LOSS. While legislation was introduced in the House (House Bill 178), NONE of our local legislators co-sponsored it and it died due to a LACK OF LEADERSHIP. It's clear that priorities lie elsewhere, following the lead of the current House "leadership." But Oak Harbor isn't the only district suffering. All of our school districts continue to suffer as the Legislature and Governor consolidate rainy day dollars, at the expense of our children and educators. Reductions in Tangible Personal Property Tax have caused districts to lose hundreds of thousands of dollars, which the schools have to levy taxes onto residents anyways to continue operating.
As Representative, I will work tirelessly to see that ALL school districts receive adequate funding, and that schools continue to be under funded while the state sits on a war chest of over $2 billion dollars in the Rainy Day Fund. Our children are our future, and it is our RESPONSIBILITY to prepare them for tomorrow.
Where Are The JOBS?
Our District BOASTS an unemployment rate above the state average. EVEN WORSE in the winter, unemployment jumps over 2% or more over the state average. Where is the economic development that was promised? Why isn't the state leveraging Jobs Ohio, the State's economic development arm, to push for economic development in our district? Why hasn't this been a priority of our officials? And where are our tax dollars going that they cannot be returned to the communities?
Our District has a large amount of part-time jobs based on the tourism season, leaving few jobs available once the season ends. As Representative, I will work with our communities to determine needs, and leverage my position to negotiate with other State agencies and Jobs Ohio to bring new employers into our District. And as is very much needed, work tirelessly to return Local Government Funds to our communities, so that they may leverage their dollars for development as well.
Our State has fought to restrict progress in our communities. The Legislature is worried about PROTECTING SPECIAL INTEREST GROUPS over defending the fundamental rights of ALL OF OUR CITIZENS. As such, women's rights ARE ALWAYS under attack. Current representation has been RELENTLESS in it's assault on the reproductive rights of women. Our officials have decided that they have the right to CONTROL a woman's body and the decisions she makes. A woman's right to choose isn't important to our Legislature, where both chambers are DOMINATED by men.
the LGBTQ community is discriminated against under the guise of conservative values. Failing to take action on HB 160, which would offer protections regarding sexual orientation or gender identity from discrimination in housing, employment and other areas is appalling. Instead of defending our residents, the House chose to let this bill die in committee.
Lake Erie's Survival Has STALLED
Lake Erie is, without question, our state's most important natural resource, and our District's most important as well. It also tops the list economically, bringing in $1.3 billion dollars in 2016, according to Lake Erie Shores and Islands. That equates to over 13,000 jobs.
Yet we see NO ACTION from local representation to PROTECT AND PRESERVE Lake Erie. No proposed legislation in the last two years has been sponsored by our local state elected officials. With another Algae Bloom looming in the late summer of 2017, we are still left waiting and hoping that action will be taken to keep our livelihoods in tact. As our largest economic driving force in our district, Lake Erie deserves more attention. Unfortunately defunding Medicaid, Planned Parenthood, and attacking women's rights has been more important.
As Representative, I will make Lake Erie's health and survival a DAY ONE GOAL, proposing Legislation to ensure it has adequate funding from the state, regardless of the federal government's inaction.
There is No REPRESENTATION
Our government is broken. We DESERVE leadership that regularly goes out in to the community to solicit OUR opinions and thoughts on legislation, not wait for us to go to them. There is no communication between our elected representatives and us when a vote is about to come up on an issue. A WELL INFORMED PUBLIC is essential to government, and that burden cannot only rest on the public. Our officials FAIL at communicating these issues with our communities.
This is ABSOLUTELY UNACCEPTABLE. As Representative, I will continue my work in rebuilding TRUST and COMMUNICATION with our communities. I will regularly communicate via social media, contact local press regularly to inform them of pending legislation in the House, hold regularly scheduled Town Halls, whether in person or virtual, and make myself absolutely accessible to you. This is what I have done as Mayor, and Oak Harbor has benefited greatly. Why? Because a WELL INFORMED PUBLIC returns power back to the people, not special interests.
Attack on HEALTHCARE
While the legislature debates de-funding Planned Parenthood, and RESTRICTING the reproductive rights of women, our communities and families struggle daily with the repercussions of opiate abuse. While the State has recently set aside $35 million dollars to combat this issue, it HAS NOT determined if or how these funds will be used, or if they will even be returned these funds to the local communities responsible for fighting this epidemic.
The House and Senate are also attacking our MOST VULNERABLE residents by RESTRICTING Medicaid. The Republican-controlled House, and our elected officials, voted to PREVENT our struggling neighbors the opportunity to obtain healthcare when THEY NEED IT THE MOST.
As Representative, I will not vote to restrict Medicaid for our neighbors, friends and family who need it, and I will work with others in the House to restore this essential right. I will also STAND UP for Planned Parenthood, knowing that the provide a VITAL SERVICE to women and families in our communities, especially those stricken by poverty. We should be DEFENDING our residents, not attacking their RIGHT TO LIVE.
In the 80's the Federal government spent billions of dollars to pay for new waste water treatment plants across the country. While this was great, in the years following these dollars dwindled off, and communities were left to their own demise to maintain these multi-million dollar facilities. Today, communities struggle under the weight of these costs, and the near constant changes coming from the Federal and Ohio EPA. Despite being a very known fact that phosphorus is a main contributor, the State has continuously FAILED to provide adequate funding to communities to pay for upgrades to prevent this issue. Our residents then contend with basements flooded with sewage, streets impassable, and treatment plants overwhelmed.
As a Mayor I see the struggles that wastewater employees face each day, operating systems far beyond their original capability or capacity. As Representative, I will use my municipal government experience to propose legislation to increase necessary funding to our communities to treat our water, which inevitably protects our lake and ensuring clean drinking water.
I don't believe in running against someone just because they are a member of the opposite party. If those currently in place serve admirably and by the will of the people I see no reason to replace them. Unfortunately, that isn't the case. There are numerous reasons why we need change, and need it now. As when I ran for Mayor, I again see a need for new leadership, as our government has forgotten it's most important resource - US." - Joe