Candidates Square Off

ST. MARYS — The two candidates facing off for the newly created Ohio House’s 82nd District seat stated their cases to voters of a local civic group on Wednesday.

The St. Marys Rotary Club hosted Nonpartisan candidate Pete Schlegel and Republican candidate Tony Burkley as part of its annual debate.

Burkley is a four-term Paulding County commissioner and Schlegel has an agriculture, law enforcement and business background.

Each were asked previously supplied questions during the debate and given time for opening and closing remarks. A sample of the questions are as follows:

Question: What role do you see the state of Ohio playing in the algae situation at Grand Lake St. Marys?

TB: “I know that’s a passionate issue for the area around here ... I think we are fortunate that we have representatives in this district that I would work with to bring these issues to the state legislature. We also have a director of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources that has this as a priority for his agenda. This is a project that is a resource, not only for the area around here, but it’s a resource and an asset the state of Ohio has.”

PS: “They are already involved. The governor has formed a task force ... And after gathering information on this committees have been formed ... Some of the things implemented are the four R’s — the right rate and this is for manure and fertilizer, applying the right rate and not over applying; the right time —  not applying to frozen ground so in the spring when we get these big rains so it doesn’t run off the ground; the right place would be proper placement; and the right method — injection versus broadcast. They’ve also implement some manure management programs.”

Question: Several years ago, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled that the funding scheme for Ohio schools with its over reliance on property taxes was unconstitutional. What reforms do you support in changing the way Ohio supports local schools?

PS: “If you turn your turn signal on to turn on a city block and it doesn’t click off, you don’t continue to drive around the block until it does. And that appears to me, at least from the outside, that is what we have been doing. We need to look hard at unfunded state mandates and the extra expenses that are putting on local schools. I don’t believe we need to reinvent the wheel, but we need to look at other states in this great country to see what is working and what is not working. This is one thing that I am going to take personally and take a hard look at it in 2013.”

TB: “This is an incredibly complex issue that we have to deal with ... It seems that many times it’s not something that is easily accomplished. When the Supreme Court ruled, they identified that it wasn’t fair, but they didn’t say what needs to be done to correct it. It left it up to the legislation to correct it.”

Question: What is your position on Issue 2 regarding the way redistricting of legislative district is done in Ohio?

TB: “Issue 2, in my opinion, is not well thought out. You have unintended consequences when legislation is passed and there’s some obvious problems with Issue 2 in that I don’t think there should be any board like this that isn’t elected by the people ... They have unlimited resources to spend. Anytime you can give a government official unlimited resources to spend, you are asking for trouble.”

PS: “The concept I like because I don’t like gerrymandering ... There’s some verbiage of the issue that I don’t like. One is the removal of members once they are on there, there’s really no verbiage for that ... The biggest issue that I don’t like about it is mandates that the general assembly appropriate all the funds necessary for this commission, including staff, consultants, legal counsel and commission members. They haven’t really defined what that is.”

Question: With the state of Ohio estate tax disappearing on Jan. 1, how are the local townships supposed to come up with funds to maintain their roads, ditches and drainage systems?

TB: “How townships and local governments function is becoming much more difficult as time goes on. One of the things that has impacted their finances will be the estate tax. There’s always a good side and a bad side to that. The good side is there were farms being lost left and right ... Those farms were being lost because they couldn’t pass them on from one generation to the next without a big tax burden to go along with that ... One thing about estate tax was if you budgeted it into the township budget on a regular basis, you were opening yourself up to a lot of problems. It was more of a if it came, it was a blessing that you got it and could use it to the best of the townships.”

PS: “This issue to me is very clear, we seem to be trimming from the bottom to the top and we need to be trimming from the top to the bottom. So what we need to do is have less money in Columbus and more money coming back out to our local areas and stop trimming these local entities.”