The race for Ohio’s 85th House seat could be decided on May 6, as three area Republicans seek to replace a longtime legislator who is leaving office due to term limits.
Douglas Chamberlain, a former Logan County prosecutor; Robert Luckey III, a manager at Walmart who has been active in Shelby County politics; and Nino Vitale, a manager at an Urbana manufacturing firm, are all on the Republican ballot.
No Democrat has filed to run in the district, so the winner in the May 6 primary will likely take over the seat. Independent candidates still have until early next month to file and appear on the November ballot for the general election, according to the Champaign County Board of Elections.
The district covers all of Champaign County and parts of Logan and Shelby counties.
Incumbent John Adams, a longtime representative from Shelby County, can no longer serve due to term limits.
All three candidates stressed their conservative credentials and promoted lower taxes as a way to attract and retain business in the state.
Chamberlain, a lifelong resident of Logan County, said his public service and experience as a private attorney helped shape his views on the issues the district is facing.
In addition to working as a private attorney, he also served as a part-time county prosecutor and was elected as a Logan County family court judge.
Chamberlain said he favors stronger local government, but has seen recent changes that have made it more difficult for cities and townships to provide services.
He argued the state has partially balanced its budget by slashing Local Government Funds. A recent Ohio budget also ended the practice of the state paying 12.5 percent of local levy costs for new and replacement levies approved by voters.
“I could be of some help to my community in taking that local government experience to Columbus and helping to do the things that we have to do for Ohio to continue improving the job climate,” he said.
Chamberlain serves on the Logan County Community Improvement Corp., an entity that focuses on job creation and retention. He said most businesses he’s spoken to would like to see lower taxes, regulatory reform and a better-skilled workforce.
“We still have to be mindful that we support our local governments because when you have a business that moves into the area, they move in because we have good police and fire protection and we have a good local infrastructure,” Chamberlain said.
Robert Luckey III
Luckey, of Sidney, has spent several years as chairman of the Shelby County Young Republicans Club and has assisted with local campaigns for state and federal candidates, including Ohio Attorney Mike DeWine and presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
Along with his community service, Luckey said he wanted to stay involved in politics because he believes in the political platforms they promoted.
“These issues matter to me and they were important to me and I work darn hard to help,” he said. “It’s not just, for me, about winning elections. It’s about making things better for our community.”
A department manager at a local Walmart, he also has experience running a small financial services business.
The state should make further cuts to state income taxes and curb spending, Luckey argued, as well as become a “right-to-work” state. Right-to-work laws restrict mandatory membership in unions and prohibit unions from requiring non-members to pay dues.
Luckey opposes recent changes at the state level that ended the practice of paying 12.5 percent of local levy costs for new and replacement levies that are approved in the future. That changes effectively places that burden on taxpayers, he argued.
“To me that’s another example of the state trying to raise your taxes in one way to pay for a cut somewhere else,” he said.
Vitale, an employee and manager at Johnson Welded Products in Urbana, described himself as a staunch conservative on both economic and social issues.
He has more than 20 years experience in private business, which he said provides insight into what issues companies face while doing business in the state. His family’s company also is involved in a federal lawsuit challenging portions of the Affordable Care Act that requires employers to provide insurance plans that cover contraception.
“The two things you’re never going to see me compromise on are guns and life,” he said.
Vitale has also been active in the community in Champaign County, including serving on the Airport Advisory Board for Grimes Field.
This election will be his first time running for public office. He decided to run because he believes Ohio can do more to cut taxes and reduce regulations to create opportunities for businesses and residents.
He said he wanted to run to make sure his children have the same opportunities he has had.
“We need to focus on growing the private sector,” Vitale said.
One of the ways to do so, he said, is to simplify the state’s tax laws and provide more stability for businesses.
The Springfield News-Sun provides balanced and in-depth election news. For this story, the paper interviewed three Republican candidates for the 85th House District. More more election news, check out our online voters guide at vote.springfieldnewssun.com.
Education: Law degree from Ohio Northern University
Work experience: Former private attorney and Logan County prosecutor, former Logan County Common Pleas Court Judge
Additional service: Logan County Board of Elections, board member at Mary Rutan Hospital and board member at Dime Bank of Northwest Ohio
Robert Luckey III
Education: Business management degree at Edison Community College
Work experience: Department manager at Walmart
Additional service: Shelby County Republican Central Committee, Delegate to the Republican National Committee, former chairman of the Shelby County Young Republicans Club
Education: Master’s degree in business administration at Franklin University
Work experience: 20 years business experience in marketing and manufacturing, manager at Johnson Welded Products
Additional service: Vice president of Champaign County Right to Life, National Rifle Association pistol instructor, airport and advisory member at Grimes Field in Urbana