Dayton Daily covers the OH-10 Congressional primary

Click to download PDF of DDN article as it appeared in print (truncated version)

Click image to download PDF version of print edition


It turns out the printed edition, as seen in the screen shot from an iPad, is missing entire paragraphs compared to the online edition. I’ve posted a screen shot of the print edition so you can see the difference

It’s not my normal practice to copy the entire contents of the DDN- but they don’t provide a forum for discussion of this article, so I’m posting it here. I think Jeremy Kelley did an outstanding job of condensing our hour long conversation into the story. You can listen to the whole conversation here: Dayton Daily News interviews David Esrati
U.S. House primary features 6 Democrats

By Jeremy P. Kelley, Staff Writer 11:37 PM Saturday, February 25, 2012

Democratic voters have a crowd of six candidates to choose from in the 10th Congressional primary March 6, ranging in age from 28 to 67 and including a cross-section of the community from business owner to retired teacher, and from pizza delivery driver to attorney.

Two are political newcomers, while four have run for Congress in the past five years. None has held elected office.

David Esrati

Esrati, 49, lives in Dayton and owns the advertising agency The Next Wave. He helped lead revitalization of the historic South Park area, where he lives. He has run for Dayton City Commission multiple times, and ran in the 2008 and 2010 Democratic primaries for Congress.

For years, Esrati has called for a new campaign finance system, referring to two-year Congressional terms as one year of campaigning and one year of paying back campaign donors. He favors publicly funded campaigns in which voters could have equal information from candidates.

He suggested three main reasons for America’s financial struggles — military spending on unnecessary weapons, wars and overseas bases; financial industry deregulation that led to a “casino” setup on Wall Street; and higher health care spending than any nation in the world.

Esrati focused more on corporate issues than most candidates, pushing for an end to “corporate welfare” and suggesting that CEO pay be capped at 35 times average worker pay for government contractors. He called for stronger penalties against corporate criminals, saying possession of $100,000 in crack cocaine will earn a life sentence, while corporate misdeeds that cost many times that in cash, jobs and pensions receive little punishment.

He called for pulling troops out of Afghanistan, focusing the military more on special forces roles, the need for a public option plan in health care reform, simpler rules and regulations for small business, and some tougher rules for those on public assistance. He said if elected, he hopes to post to the Internet a daily report of what happened in Washington.

Asked about his public disagreements with some local officials — he won repeated legal appeals after a spat with then-mayor Mike Turner got him arrested in 1996 — Esrati said he works well with people who want to be worked with.

“I’ve had a business for 22 years,” Esrati said. “I hate to tell you, but if you can’t work with people, you wouldn’t have a business for 22 years.”

Olivia Freeman

Freeman, 56, lives in Fairborn and works as a consultant to small business. She said she has worked in software sales, as a corporate recruiter and as a substitute teacher. She ran unsuccessfully in the 2010 Congressional primary for the 7th district.

Freeman spoke repeatedly about the need to revitalize American manufacturing, describing it as an answer to job woes as well as deficit problems, and saying “anyone who can start a manufacturing business needs to start it today.”

She said the lack of credit available to small businesses is a hurdle to accomplishing this goal and called on credit unions and the U.S. Commerce Department to make more loans available. She said if the government can find money for corporate bailouts, it “bloody well better find money for this.”

Freeman also called for the use of “simulation technology” in education to better prepare students in science curriculums. She is in favor of getting American troops out of Afghanistan, and said she does not believe in cutting entitlement programs, saying once the Baby Boomer wave is past, the programs will be sound again. She said her business experience has prepared her for a bipartisan approach.

“When I am working with companies, I’ve got to work on both sides of the fence, making sure both the city and the contractor are getting their needs met,” Freeman said. “And I am a tough negotiator.”

Thomas McMasters

McMasters, 49, lives in Huber Heights, and is a retired Air Force officer working as a support contractor at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. He has run for Huber Heights City Council and challenged John Boehner in a 2010 Republican Congressional primary. He said he considers himself an independent who could fit as either a Republican or Democrat.

McMasters is soft-spoken and shies away from simple answers to policy questions, saying on his web site that his “strengths are the willingness to do a lot of technical work, the ability to comprehend the details and sensibility to promote credible solutions.”

He said he sees the federal debt and deficit as a major hindrance to the economy and called for deeper analysis of fiscal decisions. He said policymakers pushing to raise interest rates need to weigh whether raising taxes would have the same effect. He said lawmakers now calling for trillions in deficit reduction should realize that the Bush tax cuts were the equivalent of a $4 trillion expenditure.

Asked about abortion and gay marriage positions, McMasters said, “If you’re hard on one side, you’re probably not going to vote for me.” He leaned toward “civil unions” for gay couples, and said from a religious standpoint, abortion makes him “nauseous” but he wouldn’t support legislation against it.

McMasters said it makes sense that the defense budget decrease as wars come to a close and needed efficiencies are found. His key to building a better political system is to “get the middle of the country voting” and better informed.

Sharen Neuhardt

Neuhardt, 60, lives on a farm near Yellow Springs and practices business law for the firm Thompson Hine. She won the 2008 Democratic primary for the 7th U.S. House District, but lost the general election race to Steve Austria. She has been endorsed this year by the Montgomery County Democratic Party.

Neuhardt said one way the government can help the economy is by avoiding the near-shutdowns of the past two years over the debt ceiling and tax decisions. She said government contractors have had to start and stop work because of political gamesmanship, and all businesses struggle to prepare for last-minute changes in tax withholding rates because of temporary fixes rather than long-term solutions.

She said her career as a business lawyer would help her create compromise in Washington, as she has brokered deals between companies where “neither side gets 100 percent of what they want.”

Neuhardt said America needs more tax revenue, and it needs to come from the wealthy. She would support an increased rate on the top tax bracket, saying most in that bracket don’t object to paying more, but object to “the government wasting their money.” She said America’s tax code needs to be simplified.

Neuhardt said giving the president a line-item veto on budget items would be a good way to reduce our debt, because giant spending bills come before Congress, containing a multitude of provisions that wouldn’t pass if considered on their own. She said efforts to improve the local economy need to be broad based.

“We have to …make sure the Air Force base is strong and flourishing,” Neuhardt said. “But not everybody can work at the base. We have to do a good job of reaching out to businesses that are already located in the Miami Valley and asking them to invest more here. What will it take for you to put that next factory here instead of Indiana?”

Ryan Steele

Steele, 28, lives in Beavercreek and works as a pizza delivery driver. He has said at campaign events that he recently earned a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts at Wright State. He clarified Friday that his course work in religious studies and philosophy is finished, but he will not receive the degree until outstanding fees are paid.

Steele is new to politics and claims that as a strength, arguing that Americans have sent lawyers and CEOs to Congress and gotten little in return. “They’re not 28, a pizza delivery guy and a philosopher … that’s a combination we haven’t tried yet.”

Steele said it’s more the market’s job to take care of the economy, with the government there to referee and regulate. He said situations like the recent recession are the points where government can step in with public works projects to get people back to work. He suggested entitlement programs should not be dismantled, but also should do a better job of eliminating abuse.

He said as a former Libertarian, he has “an insane hatred of the income tax” and is tired of politicians arguing over who raised or lowered taxes on which group. He said the FairTax, or a similar form of governmental sales tax, is the best idea he’s heard so far, as long as it doesn’t disproportionately affect lower-income people.

Steele prides himself on being able to see both side of an argument, so he said he should be able to work in a bipartisan way.

Mack VanAllen

Van Allen, 67, lives in Centerville and is a retired high school government teacher. He said he has worked on local political campaigns, but this is his first run for office.

Van Allen says his primary concern is the handling of the federal deficit and debt problems. He cited an early November letter sent by 100 Congressmen, urging the debt supercommittee to pursue an aggressive $4 trillion debt reduction, rather than $1.2 trillion. “If Mike Turner had been one of those 100, I wouldn’t be in this race,” he said.

Van Allen said gradual, long-term fixes can be made to programs like Social Security and Medicare that would prevent the United States from having a Greece-like collapse in 10 or 15 years.

“It’s all about choices,” he said. “We have to have a sound fiscal policy in order to do the kids of things we would like to do socially.”

Van Allen’s entitlement suggestions wouldn’t be draconian, as he said a society is judged by how it cares for those least capable. He agrees with Neuhardt that long-term fiscal planning, rather than repeated six-month stopgap measures, would inject certainty into the economy, encouraging businesses to invest again.

He says he’s against earmarks, is against the payroll tax cut because it undermines social security funding, and is not a military isolationist, believing quick responses to some international conflicts are appropriate. He said he knows the inertia of government, and that as a freshman legislator, he wouldn’t change the world.

“I’m old-school … you elect a representative because you expect them to provide some leadership,” Van Allen said. “So it’s your job to make some judgments, and if that judgment runs counter to your district, but it’s clearly best for the nation, you’ve got to cast that tough vote. And if the voters want to throw you out, that’s their prerogative.”

via U.S. House primary featuring 6 Democrats.

The Republican article also by Jeremy Kelley “Republicans offering primary voters distinct options” covers the other three candidates- however, neither Turner nor Breen have shown up at a single candidates night.

Primary election voters sometimes complain there is little difference between candidates, as all of them try to appeal to the same party base.

That’s not the case in Ohio’s new 10th congressional district, where Republican voters have three distinct choices in the March 6 primary election.

U.S. Rep. Mike Turner, elected first in 2002, is being challenged by John Anderson and Edward Breen, two men who have never held elected office, and who differ sharply in their policy positions.

John Anderson

Anderson, 60, lives in Enon and is a senior logistics consultant for a defense contractor. He ran for Congress as a Libertarian in the 2010 race won by Republican Steve Austria in Ohio’s former 7th District. He touts his 35 years of experience at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base as a key qualification.

Anderson calls for a dramatic government downsizing — elimination of the departments of energy and education, saying education should be controlled by states, and arguing that the free market could make us energy-independent in 10 years.

He thinks funding should stop immediately for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and said the country can’t afford to be the world’s policeman in conflicts such as the one in Syria.

Anderson said his first action if elected would be to cosponsor the FairTax plan to replace federal income taxes with a 30 percent sales tax. He says the plan would draw corporations and factories back to the United States.

Anderson said both parties are to blame for the nation’s debt problems, with George W. Bush starting wars that Barack Obama continued, and Republican legislators creating an expensive prescription plan for seniors that Democrats compounded with recent health care legislation.

“If you really want to change government, vote for John Anderson,” he said. “If you want more of the same, vote for Turner.”

Edward Breen

Breen, 54, lives in Kettering and is an author and reserve (substitute) teacher in Dayton Public Schools. He’s the son of Eddie Breen, a former Dayton mayor, Montgomery County commissioner and congressman in the 1940s and early ’50s. He says he’s a moderate Republican and has been a precinct captain as both a Democrat and Republican.

Breen’s policy positions don’t stay within one narrow ideology. He supports the “heartbeat bill” anti-abortion measure. But he said he has no strong opposition to gay marriage.

Breen said he believes U.S. forces should get out of Afghanistan, and while he agrees that defense spending should be cut, he says the new focus should be on elite forces, drones and other high-tech advancements that are studied at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

He said government’s role in improving the economy is removing “red tape and redundancies” as well as providing tax incentives “with teeth.”

Breen cites an immediate need to improve our education system and our physical infrastructure. And he calls environmental issues important, saying he’s very opposed to the “fracking” process to extract natural gas. He’s opposed to the Obama health care plan, but said health reform is needed, and criticized Republicans for not offering “a serious alternative.”

“Ending the gridlock in Congress is important,” Breen said. “Maybe we need to get back to basics, having face-to-face lunch with our Democratic counterparts.”

Mike Turner

Turner, 52, lives in Centerville and is in his 10th year in Congress. He also worked as an attorney and served as mayor of Dayton for eight years. He has often focused his congressional efforts on the health of Wright-Patt, Ohio’s largest single-site employer.

Turner said he advocates across-the-board spending cuts to balance the budget, but adds that defense has already been cut and should not suffer further. He has been criticized by Anderson for votes early in his tenure to raise the debt ceiling. Turner argues that those votes came when the debt was $7 trillion lower than it is today.

Turner said entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare need reform, and benefits should change for those younger than 55.

Asked about voter frustration with gridlock in Congress, Turner blamed President Obama, claiming he has been unwilling to have a dialogue on spending cuts outside of defense.

Turner wants U.S. forces to stay in Afghanistan to ensure that terrorists do not gain control. He said his experience and advocacy for the region make him the best candidate.

“Our local economy is incredibly tied to the success and hard work of the men and women who serve at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base,” Turner said. “My work on the Armed Services Committee has expanded, supported and defended Wright-Patt.”

via Republicans offering primary voters distinct options.

In a third article, Kelley outlines the changes in the district- and provides websites for the candidates.

Mike Turner currently represents Ohio’s 3rd Congressional District — most of Montgomery County, northern Warren County, plus Clinton and Highland counties. Steve Austria currently represents the 7th district — Greene, Clark and Fayette counties, plus areas just south of Columbus.

The district lines have been redrawn for 2012 candidates, who will take office in 2013. The new 10th Congressional district will include all of Montgomery and Greene counties, as well as a piece of Fayette County to the east. That means Huber Heights voters who have been represented by John Boehner, as well as Greene and Fayette county voters who have been represented by Steve Austria, are now included in the 10th district.

The Republican and Democratic primaries are March 6, with the winners and Libertarian candidate David Harlow competing Nov. 6, seeking a two-year Congressional term that pays $174,000 annually.

Democrat websites

Republican websites

Facebook: Edward Breen for U.S. Congress

via How does the new 10th Congressional district affect you?.

Your opinion of the reporting and the candidates? If you want to see video of any of the candidates- except Turner and Breen, you can head over to where I’ve posted video from all the candidates nights.


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