Two Clark County residents with business experience are vying for the statehouse seat that represents Springfield and a large portion of Clark County.
Republican incumbent Kyle Koehler will square off against challenger and Democrat Amanda Finfrock on Nov. 6 for the seat representing the 79th district. That district includes Springfield, New Carlisle, Enon and South Charleston.
Koehler is part owner of K.K. Tool Co. in Springfield. Finfrock has a law degree and ran her own practice in Michigan before moving back to Clark County six years ago to help operate her father’s tree farm in New Carlisle.
Koehler has represented Springfield in the statehouse for the last four years and hopes to continue to do so.
“I’ve spent the last two years fighting the lobbyists in Columbus and the payday lending industry because people in my district came to me and complained about being taken advantage of,” Koehler said. “I passed the bill when everybody said that I couldn’t do it, that I shouldn’t do it and that I wouldn’t be able to. That’s the type of fighter I am for the 79th district. That should speak volumes to the voters.”
Koehler said he accomplished payday lending reform along with demanding action to the Tremont City Barrel Fill. The dump has been a public nuisance for years and Koehler says he has tirelessly worked to resolve the issue.
“Experience means everything in this job,” Koehler said. “I have a long-term commitment to the 79th district. This is my home, this is where I raise my family and where I operate my business.”
He said he believes he has earned the respect of his colleagues in Columbus and now will be able to accomplish more like finding a solution to the sewer line hook up issues homeowners are running into when they try to sell their homes and pharmacy benefit managers who some believe are unfairly taking millions of dollars away from Ohio families.
Finfrock believes she is the best person to represent the area.
“I’m a fourth-generation resident of Clark County,” Finfrock said. “The reason I decided to run is that when I was in the Army National Guard Judge Advocate General Corp, I noticed there were so many soldiers around me that were sacrificing so much and I wanted to do more. This was the time to do more by running for State Rep.”
She’s inspired to serve the public, Finfrock said, and making sure the people of Clark County are well represented is important to her. Finfrock argues that not enough has been done at the statehouse to help Clark County face challenges like the opioid epidemic and ensuring local students are getting a good education.
“We have real issues here that have not been tackled,” she said. “They have been addressed but we haven’t seen any results and people in the community know it.”
Also, not enough has been done to bring jobs to Springfield that pay well, she said.
“My plan would be to incentivize companies that provide livable wage jobs,” Finfrock said, adding she would also call for the state agency Ohio Means Jobs to be audited annually.
She said it is also important that action is taken so money is returned to local governments from the state government to fight the opioid epidemic.
The race has become hotly contested over the last several weeks as both candidates have called out their opponents.
Finfrock told the Springfield News-Sun she has a major problem with Koehler accepting campaign donations from William Lager — the founder of the controversial ECOT online school that is now defunct and accused of misrepresenting student enrollment.
“It’s disgusting, it’s wrong,” Finfrock said, also calling for Koehler to donate the money to charity.
Koehler defended the contributions noting that his previous opponents received donations from teacher unions and that he is a strong advocate of school choice.
“When they return their contributions from the teacher’s union, money that was taken from teacher’s paychecks to support candidates that many of the members don’t respect, I’ll return the money.”
Koehler also posted on Tuesday night saying he was “appalled” Finfrock attended a campaign rally outside Springfield City Hall before an EPA Tremont City Barrel Fill meeting but did not attend the EPA meeting. Koehler noted he did show up for the meeting because the issue is important to him.
“If you want to have the responsibility of representing the people of the 79th district - you have to show up at these public meetings to listen to people speak!” Koehler posted. “She made it to City Hall to make a campaign speech. She left City Hall when it was time for the people to speak!”
Finfrock responded to the post by saying she supports Citizens for Clean Water and environmental issues are important to her. She said she had prior commitments to meet with constituents that night which she kept.
“I am passionate about our district and the various issues we face including our environmental well being,” Finfrock said. “Environmental issues are close to my heart as my education focus at Miami University was environmental studies.”