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61ST DISTRICT Republicans vie to retake seat in the Ohio House



Published: Mon, April 29, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



The winner of this race will face incumbent state Rep. John Boccieri in November.

By IAN HILL

VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER

Three area Republicans are vying for the opportunity to win back a state House of Representatives seat for their party this November.

Randy Pope, Heather Plues and Ron Barnhart are competing for the Republican nomination to run for the 61st House district seat. The winner will face incumbent state Rep. John Boccieri, a New Middletown Democrat, in November.

Boccieri is running unopposed in the Democratic primary.

The last Republican to hold the seat was Ron Hood of Canfield, who lost to Boccieri by about 1,800 votes in 2000. Hood had held the seat since 1995.

Barnhart said he thinks Hood handed the election to Boccieri.

"Ron Hood didn't do anything," he said, adding that he thinks he has the name recognition needed to win the seat for the GOP. Barnhart works as the planning administrator for the village of Lordstown.

What he believes in

He also stressed that he is a "very conservative person," and that he is pro-life and in favor of allowing nonfelons to carry concealed weapons. Barnhart also is against requiring workers to joins unions.

Plues, a member of Ohio Right to Life and the National Rifle Association, stressed that she believes in GOP values, which she defined as stressing a family's work ethic and helping families achieve their goals on their own. She also noted that she has lobbied to have "Intelligent Design" taught in Ohio schools along with evolution. Intelligent design is the theory that life is too complex to have been created without the help of a purposeful being.

Plues also stated that she is in favor of lower taxes, while adding that she did not know enough about Ohio's financial crisis to propose a solution.

The state could face a deficit of $750 million during the next two-year fiscal term, which starts July 1.

Belt tightening

Barnhart, meanwhile, said he thinks state government needs to "tighten their belt much more" in response to the deficit. He proposed that the Ohio Department of Development close either its regional offices or its Columbus office, and he said he thinks the Ohio Department of Transportation can cut its work force.

Some state legislators and candidates have discussed legalizing gambling in an effort to create more revenue for the state. Both Plues and Barnhart said they opposed gambling.

"It definitely alarms me," Plues said.

Written release

Pope could not be reached for comment. A written release announcing Pope's candidacy states that he believes he can bring a "working-class perspective" to the House.

"When considering the important work place and cultural issues facing Ohioans, I believe I can offer and help implement solutions to impact all of Ohio's citizens," Pope stated in the release.

hill@vindy.com




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