RUSSIA – Being loyal to the district, campaign promises, and Medicaid overhaul, topped the discussion at a public forum here Friday featuring three Republican candidates for the Ohio House’s 84th District.
Approximately 75 people turned out for the meeting held at St. Remy’s Hall to hear Travis Faber, of Celina, Susan Manchester, of Waynesfield, and Aaron Heilers, of Anna, who will face off in the May 8 primary election. A three-person panel presented questions for an hour followed by another hour of audience questions.
All three candidates agreed they were up against a strong history in seeking a seat formerly held by Jim Buchy, of Greenville. It was noted that Buchy never missed a House vote in Columbus and always voted in favor of his constituents. They were asked if they would have the same loyalty.
Heilers simply said, “That’s my job” standing on his long stance of voting for legislation that benefits the 84th District. The topic of loyalty was mentioned by Heilers while talking about creating opportunities for high school students to become better educated for the local job market and lessening government regulations.
Faber said his plan to follow the path already set by Buchy in “showing up when leadership is needed.” He said his uncle, Keith Faber, State Representative 84th District, R-Celina, now running for state auditor, has taught him that the time spent working on a bill after it was passed making sure it was carried out as intended.
Manchester said working with Congressman Jim Jordan, R-Urbana, in Washington, D.C. taught her that the importance of district loyalty. She claims it cost him at times with politicians who vote in the ways of political sway to their personal benefit.
All candidates slammed the current Medicaid system put in motion by Gov. John Kasich when he expanded the medical care program for lower income people. The move added an additional 700,000 Ohioans to qualify for free care.
Manchester said not only is the program a financial fiasco, but it limits able-bodied people from joining the job market. She said Ohio employers are in competition with government benefits when Medicaid benefactors “do the math” on whether to pursue employment or remain in the benefits system.
All three candidates agreed that work requirements are needed to motivate people to get off the Medicaid program. Manchester suggested a step-down system where people don’t lose all the benefits at one time but urges them to obtain viable employment.
Heilers said the work requirements are paramount. He said the problem is societal and the value of work back into core beliefs. He too agrees in scaling back benefits to better urge Medicaid recipients to gain employment.
Faber alluded to all three candidates’ ages being in their 30s, and that the welfare programs established many years ago was not meant to benefit their generation. He pointed out that multigenerational families have benefitted from such programs continuing the problem.
While he feels having job requirements for the able-bodied, the administrative red tape of obtaining federal permission to implement the new working laws is daunting.
One audience member stated she has a special needs child that depends on Medicaid to meet his level of care. She asked the three how such a situation would fit into their efforts to curb sending.
Faber explained that those truly in need of the coverage should not be endangered in cutting off benefits. He said the Medicaid changes would be aimed at those able to work or are found to be abusing the system.
Manchester commented that she would not support any cuts that would impact in-need families and individuals. Heilers said the intent of government programs is to help those truly in need and not include them in cutbacks.
While several people quizzed the group on cutting the cost of education, a local business leader spoke about the lack of quality employees to fill current hiring needs.
Faber said the problem lies in the lack of unity between high schools, colleges, and work force leaders. He claims the cost of a college education has a higher inflation rate than medical costs., which many time are for degrees that don’t lead to sustainable jobs.
He spoke of personal career choices by comparing himself and his brother. He chose academic route to become an attorney while his brother had a different calling to become educated as a diesel mechanic with numerous certifications. His point was there are educational paths to all facets of jobs.
Heilers said there should be more emphasis on educating high school seniors as to what jobs are out there. He said a strong community has solid local workforce and educators need to highlight the local job market opportunities.
Manchester said students used to know what jobs were available. She felt many times students aren’t alerted if college isn’t going to get them where they want to go.