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Stanley should get nod for 59th Statehouse seat

Voters in Ohio’s 59th House district will choose Nov. 3 between two first-time political candidates, Republican Al Cutrona, 31, and Democrat Chris Stanley, 40. Both reside in Canfield.

Cutrona was appointed by the Republican Party in May to fill the seat vacated when Don Manning died unexpectedly in office. Cutrona works as chief operating officer / in-house legal counsel for Northeastern Ohio Infectious Disease Association, Youngstown.

Cutrona’s inexperience in Columbus is apparent, and we were bothered by some responses he offered, indicating his lack of preparedness.

Cutrona said he wants to focus on finding ways to temporarily reduce taxes on small businesses struggling due to COVID-19. Among legislative goals, he was quick to mention the need to allow bars to stay open beyond the 10 p.m. COVID-19 restriction.

Cutrona noted he would back repeal of House Bill 6, the controversial energy bailout bill backed strongly by former House Speaker Larry Householder, now under indictment amid allegations of bribery related to the bill’s passage. Still, he seemed to have no sense of urgency on the repeal, saying he wants to study it further, and doesn’t want to be a legislator known for shooting from the hip.

In this case, we believe the issue requires urgency and immediate repeal. In fact, if the bill is not repealed by Thursday, all Ohioans will see new electric bill fees come January, used to bail out the state’s two bankrupt nuclear power plants.

Cutrona spoke about need to eliminate what he described as “red tape” and “burdensome regulations” for Ohio businesses. He was vague, however, on details.

He also lacked details when asked about his opinion on House Bill 70, known as the “Youngstown Plan,” which stripped local control from academically failing schools, including Youngstown City Schools.

Of all these things, however, perhaps most troubling was Cutrona’s apparent disregard for voting in primary elections. Since he first began voting in 2008, he has cast ballots in several general elections but in only one primary election — this year’s May primary — when the party was seeking a replacement for Manning.

Regarding his voting record, Cutrona said local Republicans rarely see contested races on primary ballots. But what about statewide primary races during that time? And there were presidential primaries in 2008, 2012 and 2016 that Cutrona apparently ignored. On the local level, he also passed opportunities to have a voice on levies or issues on primary ballots.

That is extremely troubling, and frankly, we are puzzled at the thinking behind Cutrona’s appointment to replace Manning, a decorated U.S. Navy veteran and a well respected lawmaker.

At the time of his appointment, Mahoning County Republican Party Chairman Thomas McCabe said the party was aware of Cutrona’s voting record but wasn’t concerned. Rather, McCabe had described him as having “good conservative credentials.”

Certainly, a state lawmaker with aspirations to maintain his seat should possess more passion about the importance of our democracy, including the local electoral process.

Cutrona’s opponent, meanwhile, was prepared and articulate on several issues involving the Mahoning Valley.

Stanley said he favors repeal of both House Bills 6 and 70.

He described HB 6 as “scamming all of us,” and said it must be repealed or “we will all be paying private industry in higher utility bills.”

Stanley, who teaches middle school social studies in Youngstown City Schools, said repealing HB 70 and returning the district to local control must be a priority.

We agree with his call for the repeal of both House bills.

Stanley took liberal views in opposition of making Ohio a right-to-work state, and expressed the need for strict regulations on natural gas drilling.

He expressed his problem with a loophole in Ohio House Bill 665 that will exempt the Canfield Fair from paying $17,000 annually to a local stormwater district created to alleviate flooding.

He opposes allowing local school funding to be transferred to Ohio charter schools. Arguing that schools should not be run as businesses, Stanley said, “Education should be for the greater common good of all of our students.”

Stanley relocated to the Valley from the Columbus area just four years ago. He acknowledged twice voting in the Republican presidential primaries. Sadly, he also didn’t vote at all in 2019, leading us to raise similar questions about his voting record.

Both young candidates have potential for the future, but we believe Stanley appeared to be more informed and, therefore, better prepared to succeed in Columbus now.

We endorse Democratic candidate Chris Stanley for the 59th Statehouse seat.

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