Home Politics Elections Election 2018 5 takeaways from Monday’s 94th State House District debate

5 takeaways from Monday’s 94th State House District debate

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Incumbent Jay Edwards and Nelsonville City Councilmember Taylor Sappington are running for the position of state representative in Ohio House District 94. The two faced off Monday night in a debate at Walter Hall.

With a week until the midterm elections, incumbent State Rep. Jay Edwards (R-Nelsonville) and challenger Taylor Sappington (D-Nelsonville) went head-to-head in a debate Monday night at Ohio University.

The questions — which were created by members of the College Democrats, College Republicans, and the Student Senate Governmental Affairs Commission — spanned a wide variety of topics concerning both Southeast Ohio and the state as a whole.

The topics ranged from the environment and poverty, to sexual assault and abortion, to higher education.

Poverty in Athens County

Edwards and Sappington took different approaches when it came to their plans to fix poverty, but they both agreed it’s a complex issue.

Edwards talked about how opioids were greatly impacting the area, citing that as one issue impacting poverty in the local community. On the other hand, Sappington said he would advocate for a hike in Ohio’s minimum wage.

Education and associated costs

Education was a contentious topic, as the candidates had different opinions on ways to lower costs associated with higher education.

Sappington’s solution to lowering the cost of higher education is to reverse tax cuts for the upper tax brackets and reallocate that money toward colleges and universities, saying that university funding needs to be reformed.

Edwards cited Ohio U as a leader of tuition predictability, discussing the Ohio Guarantee. He also mentioned that Ohio has stayed the most stagnant in educational cost hikes over the past 10 years. He said one way that he would push for making higher education more affordable would be through need-based aid.

Issue 1

While Sappington’s stance on Issue 1 is wavering, he is leaning toward supporting the initiative on the ballot; Edwards came out in strong opposition of Issue 1.

Sappington cited the need for criminal justice reform and the Statehouse’s lack of effort in fighting the opioid crisis as reason to support Issue 1, saying it needs to be approached with a backbone.

On the other hand, Edwards said that, while he realizes people need treatment, Issue 1 is not the solution. He countered by saying the Statehouse has made efforts to combat the crisis.

Infrastructure and the Rainy Day Fund

Sappington advocated for the Rainy Day Fund, which is a supply of “emergency money” held by the state. However, he said it’s not okay to take tax money and “stuff it away.” He said there didn’t have to be just one way to fund improvements to local infrastructure, talking about both the Rainy Day Fund and gubernatorial candidate Richard Cordray’s plan.

When it came to the Rainy Day Fund, Edwards emphasized that it’s okay to save money, adding that it’s necessary to prepare for a potential economic downturn. He countered Sappington’s argument, saying it’s not a good idea to spend all of the funds saved and additionally “max out the credit card.”

Abortion and HB-493

The candidates were in stark contrast in terms of their stances on abortion, specifically, Ohio’s Heartbeat Bill.

Edwards started by saying that he did not run for office to work on abortion issues. Edwards said that he is pro-life and discussed the hypocrisy of other pro-life representatives that only care about children in the womb.

Sappington, who is pro-choice, opposed the idea of the Heartbeat Bill and talked about what he described as Ohio’s “radical voice” surrounding women’s reproductive rights, saying that this rhetoric has to stop.

Editor’s Note: This article was updated from a pervious version for accuracy. 

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