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Experience or not is issue for House
Experience or not is issue for House
By JOSEPH KOZIOL JR.
Voters in the 98th Ohio House District will have choice Nov. 2 among veteran politicians and two newcomers.
The race pits Democrat Mary A. Briggs, a former Claridon Township trustee, state Sen. Timothy Grendell, R-Chester, and two political newcomers Bob Cannon, of Burton, representing the Constitution Party, and Mark Saric, of Chester, running as an independent.
The district includes all of Geauga County and parts of Highland Heights, Gates Mills Village, Mayfield Village and Mayfield Heights in Cuyahoga County.
"I think we need some new faces," said Mr. Saric, who is venturing into politics for the first time. "Voting for the same people and expecting things to change is unrealistic."
Mr. Cannon, also is seeking public office for the first time. He said he became frustrated by the actions of state and federal officials about 18 months ago. "My wife told me to stop complaining and do something about it," he said.
Mr. Grendell and Ms. Briggs said their experience will go a long way in resolving some of the toughest problems the state has seen in decades.
Mr. Grendell said that experience will be needed when the state tackles the toughest job of attempting to resolve a $8.4 billion deficit in the budget. He said it cannot simply be resolved by raising taxes, which, in turn, will chase businesses away. Instead, he said, his experience will provide answers to lowering the state's spending, while maintaining critical services for Ohio citizens.
Mr. Grendell said he has proposed reducing the number of state departments from 24 to 11, which would cut bureaucratic and administrative costs, mainly in Columbus. He said businesses have had to downsize because of the economy, and so should government.
Ms. Briggs, likewise, said she has the experience to cut the budget and keep Ohio moving forward. "I have been a part of solving issues for my constituents and many others outside of my jurisdiction," she said.
One of her goals is to eliminate hidden taxes, such as late fees for vehicle registration and unfunded mandates, she said. Another is to create jobs by reusing closed factories and supporting Ohio industry, Ms. Briggs said. "Changes need to be made to keep our talented, intelligent young people from leaving the state."
She said she plans to resolve the school-funding issue by "bringing in the brightest minds" from across the country.
Mr. Saric said he also sees the budget deficit as the biggest issue facing the state. He said he understands that cuts will be a big part of the solution, and they must be comprehensive. He said cuts must be made department by department. He said the possible reorganization of some departments would streamline government.
Mr. Cannon, a businessman for 35 years, said he wants to work to stop the decline of business in the state. He said Ohio businesses pay the second highest rate of federal taxes in the nation and the seventh highest state taxes. "We've got to make the state more business friendly," he said. "Now, we're going in the opposite direction."
He said he has gone through the state budget and found that every department listed shows administrative costs that are three times those found in private business. Mr. Cannon said some areas of the budget defy logic, such as the Southern Ohio Agricultural Committee and the Hispanic-Latino Relations board, which he said he would work to eliminate.
Ms. Briggs has lived in Geauga County all her life, growing up in Russell Township, later moving to Newbury Township and now residing in Claridon. She served as Claridon Township trustee for 12 years and unsuccessfully ran for Geauga County commissioner and Newbury Township trustee.
Ms. Briggs served as vice chair for the Geauga County Homeland Security Terrorism Task Force, first vice president of the Northeast Ohio Township Association, on the Geauga Trumbull Solid Waste Policy Committee and as member of the Chagrin River Watershed Partners board and the Geauga County Agricultural Society. She is a carpenter by trade.
Mr. Grendell has lived in Chester Township for 22 years and is a zoning and land-use attorney.
He began serving as a state representative in January 2001 and now has served in the Ohio Senate for six years. Mr. Grendell is a member of the Farm Bureau, the Geauga County Historical Society, the Chester Historical Society and the Geauga Townships Association.
Mr. Saric has been a Chester resident "off and on" for 30 years, he said. He is an attorney and an entrepreneur, now running the family business in Chester, Prestige Jewels. He has worked with government officials as an attorney, domestically and internationally. In addition, he has worked as a contractor with the U.S. Department of Defense and the International Republican Institute.
He is a founding member of the Chester Rotary and is a member of the Chester Kiwanis and the Chamber of Commerce. As a small-business owner, he said, he has contributed to various nonprofits, such as Geauga Habitat for Humanity.
Mr. Cannon has lived in Burton Township for the past five years and also lived in South Russell Village for seven years. He works as a consultant in marketing and leadership, providing training and education for manufacturers. He is a graduate of Leadership Geauga, a program designed to increase people's knowledge and understanding of the county.
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