A small business owner and a retired teacher will square off in just a few weeks for a vacant seat for Ohio’s 74th House District.
Republican Bill Dean, a retired plumber from Xenia, will try to keep the seat he’s held for two years in a contest against Anne Gorman, a Democrat who recently retired after a career as a teacher in Jonathan Alder Local Schools in Madison County. They are competing for a district that covers eastern Clark County, central and eastern Greene County and all of Madison County.
Dean said if re-elected, he would continue to be a reliable conservative voice in Columbus. As a former small business owner, Dean said the state should focus on cutting regulations and taxes. He also said he has encouraged voters in Xenia to approve a 20-year, 1.03-mill bond issue to build a new Greene County Career Center at U.S. 68 and U.S. 35 in Xenia. Dean argued there should be more support for career technical education.
“I figured I needed to because I could make a difference in politics the way I vote,” Dean said.
This will be Gorman’s first time running for political office. She said the state’s handling of the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow situation convinced her the state needed new political representatives. The school, also known as ECOT, permanently closed earlier this year after a review by the Ohio Department of Education found the private, online school was inflating enrollment and attendance numbers.
Gorman argued lax oversight by Ohio Republicans allowed the scandal to occur, costing public schools in the House district millions of dollars. Locally, Springfield City School officials have authorized their administration to sue ECOT, arguing the scandal directed as much as $3.5 million to ECOT that should have provided funding for students in Springfield.
“It boiled over and that’s the reason it got me going,” Gorman said of why she’s running for office.
Dean said he was one of a minority of Ohio lawmakers who opposed legislation legalizing medical marijuana in Ohio.
“Marijuana is a gateway drug to the opioid crisis,” Dean said. “I was one of the few that voted against it.”
He also argued state lawmakers can’t resolve the state’s opioid problems through legislation.
“I don’t think the opioid crisis is going to be solved by the government,” Dean said. “It’s going to be solved by the people.”
Dean’s son-in-law, state Rep. Ron Hood, R-Asheville, initially convinced him to become involved in politics after Dean retired from his plumbing business in Xenia. He described himself as a proponent of limited government and a constitutionalist.
Gorman said she’s been working since March to connect with voters throughout the district.
Education is a key to Gorman’s campaign, but she also said state cuts to Local Government Funds and other budget decisions have left many small towns and cities across the state with less revenue to fix roads and pay for needed public services. Many communities have sought to raise taxes locally to make up the difference, but she said that often hasn’t been enough.
“Eventually it ends up back in the taxpayer’s lap,” she said of how the state budget has affected local taxes.
While Dean argued state government can have a limited impact in fighting the opioid crisis, Gorman argued the state should develop policies to fund effective options for treatment, as well as boost training for health care workers and develop more tools to help law enforcement officials and the courts deal with the issue.
She also argued the state has repeatedly failed for years to find an effective way to provide appropriate funding to public schools, and said lawmakers should find a way to boost funding for education.
“The disservice we have done to young people is a crime of enormous proportions,” Gorman said.
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