WEST CHESTER, Ohio – Novice politicians who dominate the crowded field of candidates to succeed John Boehner in Congress promoted their lack of political experience as a plus in a forum Monday.
Thirteen Republicans and one Democrat took part in the forum at the Miami University learning center in West Chester as they seek to replace Boehner, who stepped down as U.S. House speaker last year and retired from the seat he had held since first winning it in 1990.
The field includes two state legislators, but most of the rest of the candidates haven’t sought a major elective office before.
“I’m not a professional politician,” Jim Spurlino, who owns a construction materials company in Middletown, said in his introduction. “I’ve never held elective office.”
“I am a non-politician,” added Joseph Matvey, a West Chester accountant.
A total of 17 candidates are vying in the conservative western Ohio 8th House District vying in dual races to complete Boehner’s term and for election to the next Congress. On March 15, voters in the district’s six counties will choose nominees for both a June 7 special election and for the November general election.
The candidates sounded conservative themes, with many saying Washington needs change.
“I’m passionate about my conservativism,” said J.D. Winteregg of Troy. Winteregg, who ran against Boehner in the 2014 primary, said the former speaker “rolled over” too often in dealing with President Barack Obama and the rest of Congress, and he said he would be a fighter for the district.
“I’m running because I’m frustrated that the voice of the people isn’t being heard in Washington any longer,” said Scott George, a human resources and learning consultant in Miami County.
The candidates mainly focused on economic development, national security and controlling immigration as key issues.
Middletown attorney Terri King warned about allowing what she called jihadists and Muslims who want to establish Sharia Law over constitutional law into the United States.
“We’re losing our country,” she said.
The lone Democrat in the race, Corey Foister of Fairfield, said he would bring a bipartisan, “working together,” approach to the seat. He said at age 25 and recently out of Northern Kentucky University, he can relate to young people as someone who “knows how hard it is.”
The forum was relatively polite, without direct attacks on each other.
“It’s a good slate. It’s a very respectful group,” state Rep. Tim Derickson, R-Hanover Township, said afterward. “There’s not a lot of ego up here. I think there’s a real sincere desire to serve the community, and I’m impressed with that.”
State Sen. Bill Beagle, R-Tipp City, picked up a noteworthy endorsement Monday from Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones. The veteran sheriff had considered running for the seat himself, and Beagle said he expects Jones’ support to “be very helpful” in Butler, the district’s key county, and across the district.