Click on a question below to see Brian’s position on that issue.
In 2015, voters passed fair districting rules to reduce gerrymandering in state legislative districts. What is your position on extending the fair districting rules to the U.S. Congressional districts?
I strongly support extending the fair districting rules to the U.S. Congressional districts. It is incredibly important to end gerrymandering so that community members are able to elect those that truly represent their interests. Ultimately, the goal is to protect the rights of all Ohioans, and voters sent a strong message last November that they want fair districts, which reflect the characteristics of their communities.
I support changes to Ohio’s voting laws that improve election administration, decrease burdens on county election offices and put the voters first. One strategy to address flaws in our current system is an automatic & online voter-registration system that forwards registration information from all Ohioans who interact with designated government agencies to election officials; this would increase efficiency, reduce costs for taxpayers, improve the quality & security of information and, most importantly, get more people registered, which could lead to increased voter turnout. I am deeply concerned about restrictive laws such as limiting early voting and voter ID requirements that discourage citizens from voting. Accessibility is critical.
What do you see as the state’s role in addressing women’s reproductive health care in light of the US Supreme Court’s recent decision striking down a Texas law, similar to one in Ohio, as an undue burden on women?
State elected officials should facilitate safe and accessible reproductive health care and not interfere with the medical decisions of women. I am greatly concerned by the use of the state regulatory system to limit women’s choices/options, often under the pretense of improving women’s health, and I support the wide availability of high quality reproductive health care, including safe, legal abortion and family planning services. I am a strong advocate for providing education and opportunity to help prevent unintended pregnancy and, therefore, the need for abortion. I support funding to improve access to critical health services, to lower infant mortality rates and to ensure nonelderly women are insured. All Ohioans must have the ability to make their own decisions about their health and well-being.
HB 48, allowing for the right to carry firearms in daycare facilities, private airplanes, and non-secure areas of police stations and airports, passed the Ohio House and is scheduled for consideration in the Senate. In your view, does this legislation serve to protect the citizens of Ohio? Please defend your position.
I respect the right to bear arms, which must be balanced with ensuring safety & protecting life. Notably, HB 48 is opposed by the Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police and Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys Association, recognizing that this policy intended to reduce hardships on those carrying guns could have negative impacts. Legislators should focus on strategies that work to keep our communities safe.
What should be the role of the State of Ohio in ensuring the environmental health of Lake Erie and all of Ohio’s waterways?
Ensuring the environmental health of Ohio’s waterways requires collaboration with our neighbors to reduce pollutants in tributaries, and the state should continue to control industrial & municipal discharges so that the various recreational and business uses that are so important to citizens are fully supported. It is vital that we protect our water systems to continue to have safe drinking water.
Recently passed legislation strengthens regulation of charter schools, requiring in-depth financial and academic reporting from schools and management organizations, stopping charter schools from switching sponsors to avoid getting shut down, and prohibiting poorly rated sponsors from opening new schools, among other provisions. Do you believe this legislation is sufficient? Why or why not?
House Bill 2 is an important step to improve accountability standards, and I advocate additional reporting requirements, e.g. for private companies providing services to charter schools, in line with stringent standards that public schools must follow. Ultimately, I believe in strengthening public schools and providing real education choices; among my top policy priorities is innovative education.
Based on my interactions with residents of the 73rd District, a clear theme of wanting state lawmakers to get things done to improve quality of life has emerged. Focusing on Smart Economic Development, Innovative Education Strategies and Socially Responsible Fiscal Practices translates to better lives for all Ohioans.
Municipalities should be able to make their own determinations about whether to allow fracking in their communities.
Marijuana legalization has been a big issue in Ohio in recent years. Where do you stand on the issue for medical and recreational use?
As an elected official, I represent my constituents on this issue. It seems clear that most recognize the benefits of medical marijuana, as reflected by a bipartisan effort to legalize medical marijuana in Ohio. However, I do not agree with the punitive and restrictive nature of the new law, which will continue to make it difficult for those who could drastically reduce their suffering from illness to do so. Regarding recreational use, my sense from most people in my district, not to mention regionally and nationally, is that they see benefits to decriminalizing marijuana in terms of decreasing burdens on our justice system and increasing business and tax revenues. Certainly, safety and health concerns must be addressed with any policy change on this issue. It is critical that we elect state legislators who have the intellect, savvy and will to effectively tackle problems and take advantage of opportunities.
K-12 education in Ohio is all over the place when it comes to success. There are very successful public schools and failing ones. What ideas do you have to improve education in Ohio?
All Ohioans must have access to high quality educational resources to be equipped with 21st century skills necessary to succeed. Innovative Education Strategies are critical to equipping people with 21st century skills and facilitating workforce readiness and competitiveness. We must strengthen our public schools, encouraging STEM and inquiry-based learning.
The 2016 presidential election has been very divisive. What are your thoughts on it and the current state of party politics?
I strongly believe that state legislators from all positions on the political spectrum must really listen to each other and earnestly foster dialogue. Only if this happens will we truly serve the citizens that we represent. We must put people before party politics!
I am confident that through Bipartisan Collaboration, we WILL do better as a state government! The current divisiveness that hinders government decision making and adversely affects Ohioans must change. I am uniquely qualified to facilitate this change, with a skill set that has allowed me to make significant progress in extremely challenging situations. My optimism, communications savvy, rationality and authenticity are the key success factors that will lead to making a positive difference for community members. Focusing on Smart Economic Development, Innovative Education Strategies and Socially Responsible Fiscal Practices will enhance the lives of all citizens. By shifting tax dollars back to local governments, elected officials can better respond to people’s needs. And, it is clear that restoring infrastructure, creating jobs and effectively educating Ohioans will translate to improved competitiveness and quality of life. As Council Vice President in Yellow Springs, I am engaged in major projects that enhance quality of life for our residents and promote economic well-being for our community – constructing a new water plant/upgrading the system, building a 1 MW solar array to power our community, advocating for youth programming, e.g. YS Skate Park & Youth Center improvements, actively supporting our municipal broadband initiative, succeeding in balancing the Village budget, promoting citizen engagement via online channels including Facebook & YouTube, leading our Economic Sustainability Commission and Community Access Panel, collaboratively developing a local policing vision, and initiating and executing transparency-oriented projects that strengthen leadership and decision making.
Heroin and opiate addiction have become a major issue in the state. The death tolls are rising and more families are impacted. What ideas do you have to deal with the crisis?
Local policing approaches that place the focus of officers on saving lives, through education, treatment and compassion, are the appropriate strategy for dealing with this epidemic as opposed to conducting a drug “war” that leads to mass incarceration rates with a disparate impact on young men of color. We can save thousands of lives with better success at rehabilitation if we utilize social services, medicines such as Naloxone, and stronger community-police relations, which in turn reduce violent crime. Law enforcement officers are currently talking about having the ability to help positively change someone’s life and their commitment to this important work. This way of thinking should be strongly reinforced. The intersection between public health and law enforcement can improve our understanding of addiction. We must intentionally employ public health and local policing strategies to effectively solve a wide range of crime problems, being smarter about ensuring public safety.
Since Ohio passed its carrying concealed weapons law in 2004, the number of places permit holders may carry weapons has been expanded and training requirements have been reduced. What other changes do you think are necessary to Ohio’s CCW law? Please explain.
I respect the right to bear arms, which must be balanced with ensuring safety & protecting life. Notably, the Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police and Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys Association have officially recognized that these policies are likely to have negative impacts. Legislators should focus on strategies that work to keep our communities safe.
According to the Project on Student Debt, 69 percent of seniors who graduated in 2014 had student loan debt, with an average of $28,950. In Ohio, 67 percent borrowed an average of $29,353. State support for public universities and colleges has been cut back over the past decade. Specifically, how would you work to make college more affordable and accessible for Ohio families?
Ohio’s state legislators must partner with colleges & universities, accreditors, the Ohio Education Association, federal government and other stakeholders to improve education access, affordability and completion. State policy can improve the current situation through alignment of secondary and postsecondary systems, reform of remedial education requirements to better fit individual experience & need, and seamless transitions into college and among institutions by making it easy to transfer credits. Notably, our state elected officials should take a more active role in protecting Ohioans through a robust authorization and oversight process, similar to what is needed to ensure transparency with charter schools. I believe we should continue to invest in our public higher education institutions as long as this is associated with reforms to support student success. Funding institutions to some extent based on performance indicators is a best practice, but we do need to be smart about how to appropriately measure progress. Currently, the state is funding public higher education at amounts lower than pre-recession rates, and it is time to reverse this trend. It is certainly time to increase our investment in public universities and colleges.
The state gas tax has not been increased in more than a decade but Ohio roads and bridges need significant work. How do you propose addressing this?
As Midwest Policy Manager for Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, I am engaged in many discussions about raising gas taxes, which also provide less funding for transportation infrastructure due to the increasing fuel efficiency of vehicles. I certainly believe that one’s use of roads and bridges should be harnessed to contribute to their upkeep, and a gas tax captures this to some degree. Thus, I would support a slight increase in the state gas tax, but there are other strategies to be considered including innovative sales tax allocation, which has been promoted in Minnesota to address infrastructure needs. Our state legislature must collaborate with federal agencies to secure the full support of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act to truly do something about Ohio’s crumbling infrastructure. Financial resources exist to encourage investment in infrastructure, and state policies can be designed to further promote this important economic activity, which would create good jobs and increase consumer spending.
Local jurisdictions have 51 levies on the ballot in the area. Local officials say the tax increases are needed to make up for state funding cuts. How should local governments address funding shortfalls?
Through my experience as a Council member, I have seen the negative impacts of reducing the local government fund by approximately 50% for Ohio’s cities and villages. This situation has driven municipalities to pursue levies to continue supporting vital public services such as youth programs, local policing and economic development. Local governments must operate efficiently to control costs, but fiscal responsibility includes a social aspect that sustains community and enhances quality of life. Cutting services is not the answer, and state elected officials should facilitate local government decision making, which is much more effective in addressing the real needs of people. Levies are a band-aid highlighting the need for better state policy that redirects taxpayer dollars to local jurisdictions that are in a better position to spend them appropriately. The ‘rainy day’ fund, built up by shifting dollars away from municipalities, is an initial source to address funding shortfalls; however, the true focus of state legislators needs to be on implementing policies that promote economic development and generate commerce for Ohio. A collaborative approach to solving these problems will ensure that Ohio’s assets reap their full benefits.
Ohio has consistently cut income taxes over more than a decade. Do you support further reductions or increases in the state income tax? Why?
I am concerned that further reductions in Ohio’s income tax will cause fiscal instability for our state while not achieving the ultimate goal of improving job creation. It is critical that the local government fund be restored so that municipalities are not forced to cut services if new levies are not passed. Although lowering taxes is appealing, one negative impact is that we are not able to adequately invest in infrastructure and brighter futures for citizens. Current income tax policy has meant that more burden falls on lower- and middle-income Ohioans. Successful companies, which we want to remain or locate in our state, prioritize economically vital regions because they can only thrive where there are well-trained workers, reliable transportation systems and strong markets. This requires public investment in schools, infrastructure, training and services, which a reasonable income tax rate helps to fund.
My top priority is to facilitate ‘local control’ — properly funding municipalities to better leverage tax dollars. Decisions to spend taxpayer money are best made by local elected officials who are close to and understand the needs of their community members. By shifting funds back to local governments and facilitating their decision making and regional collaborations, state government will truly turn Ohio around in terms of economic development, educational achievement and citizen prosperity. Socially Responsible Fiscal Practices mean allocating funds in a manner that best supports quality of life for community members. There are sufficient taxpayer dollars, if spent wisely, to provide meaningful social services while maintaining a balanced budget. Strategic thinking and strong leadership are key.
Ohio is a “purple” state in presidential elections when voter turnout is the highest. Yet, the GOP has big majorities in the General Assembly. How would you work across the aisle on important issues?
My vision is that through Bipartisan Collaboration, we WILL do better as a state government in making a difference in the lives of Ohioans. Elected officials must focus on what really matters to citizens, putting people above party & politics. I strongly believe that state legislators must really listen to each other and earnestly foster dialogue. The divisiveness that defines government these days must end, and we are in a position on the local, regional and state levels to influence better practices among federal elected officials. I have proven my ability to collaborate with a skill set to get things done – persistence, positive thinking and practicality. I listen carefully and communicate effectively. I know how to work with people, actively encouraging community engagement with full appreciation for the value of consensus and compromise that reflects all the best ideas from diverse perspectives. I have been directly involved in such bipartisan initiatives as the Clean Ohio Fund, which has made a major difference in the economic & environmental health of our state and the physical & mental well-being of Ohioans, and I appreciate the powerfully positive profound effects that working across party lines can have for community members. This is what continues to excite and motivate me to be involved in government. My background and experience have equipped me well for making a difference as a state elected official.
The two biggest challenges facing Ohio are our aging infrastructure and our decreasing competitiveness. Smart Economic Development is one of my policy priorities, focusing on investment in infrastructure, which will create good jobs and ensure sustainable and secure futures for all Ohioans. In the last six years, Ohio has fallen from 5th to 23rd in education system rankings among the fifty states. To turn around our state’s steady declines in quality of education, Innovative Education Strategies are critical; we can equip people with 21st century skills and facilitate workforce readiness by strengthening our public schools and encouraging STEM & inquiry-based learning. I am a doer and will hit the ground running as a State Representative. During my three years on Village Council, I have been engaged with investing in infrastructure, establishing community development policies, balancing budgets and addressing affordability. I know what it takes to successfully represent a diverse group of community members.