GREENVILLE — Members of the Darke County Republican Party held their annual GOP Hog Roast Sunday.
Speakers included Ohio gubernatorial candidate Mike DeWine, Rep. Warren Davidson, veteran and candidate for Secretary of State Frank LaRose, Ohio House 80th District Rep. Steve Huffman and 2018 candidate Jena Powell, 84th District candidate Susan Manchester and Ohio Supreme Court candidates Craig Baldwin and Mary DeGenaro.
Issue 1 was a key topic among most of the event’s speakers. According to the Ohio Secretary of State’s website, Issue 1 is a proposed amendment to Ohio’s constitution that would reduce penalties for the crime of obtaining, possessing or using illegal drugs.
Specifically, the measure would require sentence reductions of 25 percent for incarcerated individuals convicted of crimes other than murder, rape or child molestation, provided those individuals participate in rehabilitative, work or educational programs; mandate that obtaining, possessing or using controlled substances be classified as a misdemeanor offense rather than a felony and that jail time be prohibited as a penalty for those with fewer than three offenses in a two-year period; and allow individuals previously convicted of a felony on such charges to ask the court to reduce the charge to a misdemeanor.
DeWine briefly touched on a proposed 12-point plan for dealing with Ohio’s drug problem, emphasizing its focus on preventing young people from getting involved with drugs by offering educational initiatives in Ohio’s schools.
“If you do that every single year, it will make a difference,” DeWine said. “It won’t take a lot of time, but you have to do it consistently.”
DeWine also proposed creating a task force that would help prevent fentanyl, which is responsible for many overdoses, from coming into the state and criticized the drug’s inclusion in the list of substances for which Issue 1 would reduce penalties.
Darke County Common Pleas Court Judge Jonathan P. Hein also spoke on Issue 1, saying it would not help solve Ohio’s drug problem.
“What’s going to do that is effective law enforcement,” Hein said. “The goal of this legislation is to take felony drug possession cases and make them the equivalent of getting a ticket. No jail. No possible jail. No punishment.”
Hein said that, without a judge to order them to pursue treatment, many drug users would not enter a substance abuse rehabilitation program.
“People don’t go to get help. They go because of some accountability to the court,” Hein said. “People need law enforcement to push them into treatment. Ultimately, you need some kind of heavy hand to compel people to get help when they don’t know how to do it on their own.”
Speakers also emphasized advances they feel have been made since the 2016 presidential election.
“Great things have been done in the last two years,” Rep. Davidson said. “Regulatory reform. Tax reform. Our economy is growing, and we have two new Supreme Court justices.”
Meanwhile, Ohio Supreme Court candidates Baldwin and DeGenaro stressed the importance of treating defendants as people rather than case numbers and talked about the dangers of “legislating from the bench.”
“When the court is stable, Ohio and its businesses prosper,” DeGenaro said. “We need fair, impartial, transparent and accessible courts.”
The three-hour event was held in the Youth Building at the Darke County Fairgrounds and included activities such as face-painting, a bounce house, a gun raffle and performances by students from Final Bow Dance Studio in Greenville.