Two vie to represent Springfield, Xenia, WPAFB in Ohio Senate

Two men are vying to represent residents in Ohio Senate District 10, which stretches from Beavercreek to West Jefferson and includes the cities of Springfield and Xenia.

State Sen. Bob Hackett, R-London, is the incumbent seeking re-election. Hackett is chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee and leads a subcommittee on Health Finance and Medicaid. He served in the Ohio House from 2009 to 2016 and as a Madison County commissioner from 2001 to 2008.

Democratic challenger Charles “Charlie” Ballard owns a small sign company in Greene County. He previously worked as a government contractor at Wright Patterson Air Force base, and before that served 21 years in the U.S. Air Force.

The Ohio Senate pays a salary of $60,584 a year.

This newspaper submitted questions to both candidates. Below are their responses. Visit our website for more questions and answers with the candidates in this race as well as information on other local races.

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Q: Senate District 10 includes Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and the Springfield Ohio National Guard Base. What can Ohio lawmakers do to support the mission at the bases and protect the more than 30,000 jobs there?

Ballard: We can continue doing what we are currently doing, by working hand-in-hand with the base, local leaders, state representatives and federal representatives. What I learned in the military is you must always have a plan B. Let us build the infrastructure to attract two more industries following North Carolina and Silicon Valley footsteps. We need to publish and implement a 20-year-vision bringing two high paying industries to the Dayton Area. This requires planning and public support, but I strongly believe that businesses will come if you build the foundations.

Hackett: There is probably nothing more important to my district than Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and the Springfield Ohio National Guard Base. I have worked diligently with legislators across Ohio to illustrate the importance of these bases to Ohio and how competitive it is with other states to keep their operations in Ohio. We have been very successful in bringing more missions to Ohio and I will continue my work to gather state dollars to both bases. My efforts paid off that in 2017 I was awarded the top legislator award in Ohio by the Ohio National Guard. The latest legislation I championed was to protect spouses when their husband/wife is transferred to Ohio and their license in other states is transferred to Ohio (the military spouse reciprocity bill).

Q: Senate District 10 includes Wright State University, Central State University and Clark State Community College. What can or should Ohio lawmakers do to support state colleges and universities, many of which are facing financial difficulty?

Hackett: I have been very supportive ofCentral State University, Clark State Community College and Wright State University. I have worked to support these educational institutions in both the regular budget process and the capital budget. We still yet do not know the full ramifications of the COVID-19 crisis, but I agree when we finalize the current capital budget and next year’s regular budget, we must support our public colleges and universities. Also, we cannot forget our great private universities Cedarville University, University of Dayton and Wittenberg University that are either in my district or very close.

Ballard: We must look at the budget to ensure there is no waste. Next, we must work with the unions and local leaders to budget for the future. We must ensure the state is doing the best we can, with funding for our public schools and college institutions. One of my goals is to have in-state tuition-free for public trade schools, associate degrees, and bachelor’s degrees if the student willing to sign a 15-year contract to work in sectors to help push Ohio into the 22nd Century.

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Q: Senate Bill 221, the governor’s Strong Ohio gun reform package, isn’t likely to pass this legislative session and will likely be re-introduced next session. Where do you stand on the basic elements of the package?

Ballard: I will back the governor’s plan, but I feel it does not go far enough. I am also a strong advocate in stopping the ‘stand your ground’ law, arming teachers, and having unlicensed concealed carry. I also want to introduce a bill to require gun owners to have gun insurance.

Hackett: I am a conservative Republican who supports the Second Amendment, but understands there must be common sense included in how we deal with guns. The governor’s reform package is being debated in committee and I agree it is an issue that will be reintroduced in the next session. I strongly support concealed carry and do not want that legislation repealed.

Q: Should Ohio require background checks for all gun purchases, including private party sales?

Hackett: I support an increase in background checks but not with all gun purchases.

Ballard: Yes, I believe we should.

Q: Should Ohio pass a red flag law that allows families and police to seek a court order to remove firearms from those deemed to be a danger to themselves or others?

Ballard: Yes, we should.

Hackett: Remember the pink slip legislation deals with this subject. I am a co-chair of the mental health caucus and understand we do not want guns in the hands of those with strong mental health issues. The issue with the red flag legislation is all who can seek a court order to remove the guns and many judges will never put the guns back in the home for political reasons.

Q: Do you support or oppose the state authority to issue public health orders to shut down businesses, schools, and other activities during a pandemic?

Hackett: Many of my constituents do not support the state authority having the right to issue public health orders to shut down businesses, schools etc. I did vote for SB311 (limiting the power of the Ohio Health Director). However, saying that I want experts involved in recommending certain actions, but I do not support the state health director making the final decision.

Ballard: I support the government shutting down businesses due to public health concerns. One of all government’s main objectives is to protect the public, if a government cannot do that well what do we have?

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Q: Do you wear a mask in public spaces when you cannot maintain six feet of social distancing?

Ballard: Yes, I wear a mask in public, and I have gotten my flu shot. The scientific community stated this is the best way to keep my loved ones and me safe. Our leaders, good or bad, are role models, so the least we can do is put on a darn mask.

Hackett: I do wear a mask when I cannot maintain six feet of social distancing — and many times indoors even when I can maintain social distancing.

Q: Do you support or oppose removing the “catch-all” language in Ohio’s child immunization laws that allow parents to opt not to have their kids vaccinated for reasons of conscience?

Hackett: I am a strong believer in child immunizations but do not support the change in the law that allows parents opt not to have their kids vaccinated for reasons of conscience.

Ballard: It is a slippery slope, and I think that if there is a medical reason for a child not to get a vaccine is one thing but for a parent to object not to immunize because a parent feels like it is not acceptable, and the language should be removed from that law. When societies take personal beliefs to the extreme bad things have happened. Do we really want an outbreak in Ohio schools from polio?

Q: Ohio and other states saw sustained demonstrations this summer against racial injustice and police brutality. Protesters called for a slate of reforms. What do you think are the most important changes we should make?

Ballard: No law can make a person humane. For eight minutes, a human being begged for medical attention, and none was administered, his life was taken by people who could not see his humanity. Sadly, this is something you cannot teach; either you are humane or not.

Hackett: I feel increasing education is the real key here — more education with the police and more education with the citizens of Ohio.

Q: Where do you stand on the following reforms: Ban or severely limit chokeholds? Ban or severely limit the use of tear gas? Increase police officer basic and ongoing training, particularly for de-escalation and recognizing implicit bias? Require independent investigations of officer-involved shootings and deaths in custody? Require centralized reporting to the state of use of force incidents? Increase transparency for officer discipline and disciplinary files?

Hackett: I would support severely limiting choke holds; more education on the use of tear gas, but I do not support banning or limiting tear gas. As stated above I support increasing police officer basic and ongoing training, particularly for de-escalation and recognizing implicit bias. I support a combination of private citizens plus experts from law enforcement sitting on a review committee — a completely independent review allows for bias and political motivations. I would support a system that requires centralized reporting to the state of use of force incidents. We do need more transparency for officer discipline and disciplinary files.

Ballard: We should ban chokeholds. We should ban tear gas. I want to implement a three-year training and an Associate’s degree before a person becomes a police officer. I support requiring an independent investigation of officer-involved shootings and deaths in custody. I am also for the state funding body cameras to all police departments and making it mandatory to record all interactions with the public. I am for all public information, such as body camera video, dash camera videos, grand jury proceeding regarding officer-involved shootings and deaths in custody, including the (prosecutor’s) recommendation to the grand jury to the press within 45 days after the events occurred. I believe Ohio should require centralized reporting to the state of use of force incidents, I also believe Ohio should join the federal databank. I would like to increase transparency for officer discipline and disciplinary files.

Q: The FBI and U.S. Department of Justice has charged former Ohio House speaker Larry Householder and others in a racketeering scheme that allegedly involved $60 million in bribes to elect Householder and pro-Householder lawmakers, make him speaker, pass House Bill 6 and defend the bailout bill from a referendum Have you received campaign donations or any support from Friends of Larry Householder, Larry Householder, Jeff Longstreth, Neil Clark, Juan Cespedes, Matt Borges, Generation Now, FirstEnergy PAC, any other FirstEnergy sources?

Ballard: No, I have not received campaign donations or any support from Friends of Larry Householder.

Hackett: I did receive one donation over my term as a senator from FirstEnergy PAC and I donated the funds to Life Care Alliance in Columbus, Ohio. I have never received any contributions from anyone else connected to Larry Householder and the other four charged in the racketeering scheme.

Q: Have you or your campaign benefited from the work of any 501(c)(4) organizations? If a 501(c)(4) becomes active in your race, will you disavow its activities?

Hackett: I have never received campaign contributions from a 501(c)(4) organization and if a 501(c)(4) becomes active in my race I would disavow its activities.

Ballard: No, I do not believe I have benefited from the work of any 501(c)(4) organizations. I am OK with it as long as the organization is focusing on improving the social welfare of the public and are following the code, which states: “To be tax-exempt as a social welfare organization described in Internal Revenue Code section 501(c)(4), an organization must not be organized for profit and must be operated exclusively to promote social welfare. The earnings of a section 501(c)(4) organization may not inure to the benefit of any private shareholder or individual. If the organization engages in an excess benefit transaction with a person having substantial influence over the organization, an excise tax may be imposed on the person and any managers agreeing to the transaction.”

Q: Do you support or oppose the repeal of HB6?

Ballard: I oppose HB6, I think we should focus on creating affordable green energy throughout Ohio. I oppose First Energy being able to lobby to keep HB6.

Hackett: I support the repeal of HB6 and I am a co-sponsor of the senate legislation.

Q: State lawmakers craft laws that impact open meetings and access to public records. In your public service experience, how have you worked to increase transparency?

Hackett: I support the media having access to open meetings and access to public records;

Ballard: I have no public service experience, but I believe that public officials should keep the public abreast of issues and grant them access to public records and meetings; without hurdles.

Q: Given the pandemic and economic crisis, state tax revenues are tumbling and the upcoming budget is expected to be very challenging. Would you vote to increase income, sales, and/or business taxes to avoid drastic cuts to state programs? Why or why not?

Ballard: Yes, I would raise taxes to make up the shortcomings. Look, the state has been cutting taxes and forcing local communities to raise their taxes. This is a problem, especially when local areas across the state were hurting, before COVID-19.

Hackett: The key to turning around the economy is bringing new jobs to Ohio and getting people back to work. As a former county commissioner I know it is important to provide key services to people and during difficult times more people need assistance. However, just raising taxes is usually not the right answer and actually leads to greater problems down the road as more businesses move out of Ohio.

Q: A recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling in June makes employment discrimination against LGBTQ workers illegal, but it doesn’t cover housing or places of public accommodation. For more than a decade, some Ohio lawmakers have tried to pass a bill that would make discrimination in housing, employment, and places of public accommodation illegal on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. The Ohio Chamber of Commerce now backs this bill. Do you support or oppose the bill?

Hackett: I remember when similar legislation was proposed a few years ago and all the business organizations were against the bill. Small companies do not have attorneys on retainer and the cost to them would be significant. I had a number of small businesses as clients and not one of them supported the bill. The sponsors have worked to make the bill more acceptable this time around and I am leaning to support the bill.

Ballard: I support this bill; discrimination should not be tolerated anywhere!

Name: Bob Hackett

Hometown: London

Family: Wife Sue, son Seth and daughter-in-law Lauren and granddaughter Preslee

Political party: Republican

Political experience: Ohio senator 2016-present; Ohio House of Representatives 2009-2016; Madison County commissioner 2001-2008.

Education: Bachelor’s degree in economics from Columbia University, Chartered Financial Consultant The American College, Chartered Life Underwriter The American College

Name: Charles Ballard

Hometown: Xenia

Family: Prefer not to answer

Political party: Democrat

Political experience: None

Education: Bachelor’s degree in liberal arts from Excelsior College

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