Cox Media recently asked a series of questions of local candidates for publication on their various media outlets, including the Dayton Daily News, WHIO TV and Radio, the Springfield News-Sun and the (Butler County) Journal-News.
Cox Media Group Voters Guide
The following are those questions, and Kim McCarthy’s responses in full….
What are the two biggest challenges facing the state and how would you deal with them?
Arguably the two biggest challenges are 1) The unaffordability of healthcare and prescription drugs and 2) The growing inequality within our society. Regarding healthcare, expanding and protecting Medicaid is not enough. We need to move to an expanded Medicare For All system that allows all Ohioans to invest in their health. Because it costs us, workers and employers, too much not to do so. Bad healthcare leads to health problems going from bad to worse, to medical conditions that only get more expensive to treat, unnecessarily costing us even more. Switching to Medicare For All provides opportunities for the state to negotiate drug prices in bulk, keeping costs down for the taxpayer, and relieves employers of the burden of managing workers’ access to health care.
Income inequality is another issue that is critical. The stock market might be booming at the moment, but that doesn’t help the 70% of American workers now living paycheck-to-paycheck, or the 40% of Americans who report being unable to meet an unexpected expense. This is Ohio’s reality: our state has shamefully slipped below the average median ranking in a dozen different national economic performance categories. Ohio’s lawmakers have switched Ohio’s taxation from income and capital gains taxes more onto sales and property taxes that unfairly burden the working and middles classes and fixed income seniors, and have made Ohio one of only six states that have no corporate income taxes. These changes have damaged the ability of local schools, municipalities, and counties to do their jobs, including trying to meet all of the state-required unfunded mandates, including high stakes testing in schools. The result is that our schools and local communities continually have to keep coming back to the voters asking for property tax money to fulfill those responsibilities. It’s time for those who have gained the most from living in Ohio, the wealthiest of individuals and corporations, to pay their fair share.
What would you do to bring jobs to Ohio? Do you support JobsOhio? What changes would you make to it?
JobsOhio, according to its newest annual report, used $1.15 billion last year to create 32,200 jobs. This means they spent $35,714 for each job, and created only .015% of new jobs in the US in 2017. The Columbus Dispatch found that 34 JobsOhio employees get six-figure salaries, while Ohio has dropped to 33rd in the nation in job growth. JobsOhio is a wasteful scheme that pays a few people very well with public money. To create jobs we must change the tax code and put more money in more hands, to drive up consumer demand, which is what really builds the economy. The disastrous supply side theory has failed. We must provide statewide Medicare For All, to free business from the crushing cost of private health insurance. This will let employers hire more people and pay them better. As an experienced small business owner, I know the burden employer based health insurance puts on business, and the relief Medicare for All would provide employers and workers.
Ohio must invest in education to create and keep good jobs. We need more people with the skills to fill 21st century jobs. Relief from Ohio’s worst-in-the-nation student debt is essential to our future. This huge debt keeps people from supporting local economies, damaging growth in communities. We can create jobs by updating Ohio’s infrastructure, making high speed internet available and accessible statewide. Affordable high speed broadband helps local economies; its availability stimulates investment. Just as we invested in electrification and built the economy a century ago, we need world class internet to compete economically now. This means open platform internet with net neutrality, not one controlled by a few corporations who would play favorites. World-class internet attracts high tech and green jobs, and helps small businesses compete with big corporations. We need more small local employers. They often offer better, more satisfying jobs for workers, and are more committed to communities, since they actually live in them. We must work with one of our region’s most important assets, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, to develop green tech. The Base is vital to our government’s R&D and plays a key role in national security. As Defense Department reports make clear, climate change is a serious threat to national security. Confronting it with the creative and tech assets of our region, partnering with the Base to find answers to our problems, can be a huge economic driver and can place Ohio at the forefront of global environmental sustainability.
21 states have passed minimum wage increases since 2014. What do you think the minimum wage should be in Ohio?
I can’t say what an exact number would be for Ohio, as I would need more research to better determine that. But many studies have shown that at least $15 an hour is needed for a person working a full time job to support themselves and their families. However, figures that may be relevant for one state, say a Washington or California, states with different costs of living, are not going to be the same as for Ohio. One thing I do know, however, is that the current minimum wage is inadequate and definitely needs to be raised. Raising the minimum wage would not just help the needs of those individual employees, but would help support the wider economy by putting more money in the hands of working and middle class families, money which will be spent on food, medical expenses, and the purchasing of a whole range of consumer goods and services from local businesses. The evidence is in that raising wages doesn’t depress local economies, but rather it stimulates them, thus resulting in more jobs.
What is your plan for resolving concerns about the skills gap many Ohio business leaders complain about?
I’ve already touched on some of this in my earlier answer regarding how to support job growth in our state. I also address some of the core issues involved with this in my answers regarding improving our educational system, since those remain a key factor towards bridging that gap. Investing in education locally and on a statewide level is a major key towards enhancing Ohio’s ability to create and retain good quality jobs. We need more people with creative and critical thinking and learning skills to fulfill the requirements of the jobs of the 21st century. Leaving Ohio’s massive student debt problem unaddressed is a serious impediment towards encouraging students to want to invest themselves here in Ohio into the education and training necessary to meet the needs of the jobs of tomorrow. We need a public educational system that incentivizes this kind of investment, not deters it. We also have to work with business and industry in understanding and preparing for the needs of the next generation, as most of the jobs of the future don’t even exist yet. We need an educational system that prepares our students to be more adaptable than any previous generation for living and thriving in a new world of change and progress.
Ohio has consistently cut income taxes over more than a decade. Do you support further reductions or increases in the state income tax? Why?
Reinforcing what I’ve already elaborated on in my earlier answer to the first question, I do not support further cuts in income taxes, and strongly support a fair tax code where everyone pays their fair share. ‘Trickle down’ supply side economics is a demonstrable failure, and continuing to pursue these kinds of economic policies in the face of the facts at hand is a fool’s errand. (What was that again, about the definition of insanity?). By reduction of income taxes on the wealthiest, Ohio has shifted the tax burden onto sales and property taxes, affecting our hardest working citizens and our seniors, while at the same time cutting the legs out from under the ability of our schools, health departments, counties and cities to carry out the duties they are REQUIRED to fulfill by the state.
Should Medicaid expansion continue or not? Under what restrictions?
Medicaid expansion definitely needs to continue. It’s been a good thing in that it has provided access to healthcare to over 725,000 Ohioans who had not previously had coverage, including over 70,000 veterans. Frankly, healthcare for our citizens should not be a political issue. Disease does not recognize class or political affiliation. Untreated infectious diseases threaten us all. Untreated medical conditions become more serious and much more expensive to treat, eventually costing all of us. Uncompensated health care means that doctors and hospitals have to increase their charges to insured or directly paying patients. It is this cycle which is why we end up with $25 dollar aspirins, and an overnight stay in a hospital costing more than a luxury cruise.
So yes, it is a good thing – but it is not enough. To really solve the bulk of our healthcare accessibility and affordability problems, we need a Medicare For All, single payer insurance system (akin to what every other industrialized nation in the world has). Such a system has been shown to demonstrably reduce costs and improve outcomes, particularly in comparison to our current system, which is by far the most expensive in the world, and yet has middling to below average health benefit outcomes for the money spent.
Heroin and opiate addiction have become a major issue in the state. The death tolls are rising and more families are impacted. What ideas do you have to deal with the crisis?
First off we need to be sure that Medicaid expansion continues, if not an actual Medicare For All system, so that we have the medical and counseling tools to help those in need, as well as defend our communities from ravaging effects this epidemic is causing. A Medicare For All health insurance system would provide patients more options to treating their afflictions than just drugs. Also, medicinal marijuana has been shown to be an effect treatment for opioid addiction. This should be made available to those in need of treatment. Secondly, we need to move the fight against opioids out from the criminal system and into the realm of public health treatment. Criminalizing addiction is not helping solve the problem. We throw way too many people into prisons, but no matter how many people are incarcerated, the drug problems in society continue on unchanged. Incarceration is extremely expensive and simply throws good money after bad. We also need to recognize what are some of the social and economic causes for this rampant epidemic of addiction. It’s not a stretch to see how a sense of hopelessness in the face of the lack of opportunities and good jobs in the midst of communities gutted out by deindustrialization, inescapable debt among many, etc, can leave people feeling there is no recourse out from their situations, leaving them to turn to pain-numbing escapism through drugs.
K-12 education in Ohio is all over the place when it comes to success. There are very successful public schools and failing ones. What ideas do you have to improve education in Ohio?
We need to be far less dependent on these current ‘teaching to the test’ practices, which is empty education. All students learn is how to take tests, and not the permanent learning skills for the kinds of creative and critical thinking they will need to manage and thrive in the future. After all, most of the jobs of the future don’t even exist yet, and our students will need to be more adaptable to living in a new world than any generation before us. This is also why our educational institutions should be working more closely with those in business and industry in regards to how some of our curriculum is directed. We also need to change our policy of threatening schools with state takeovers, or be undermining them by moving students to charter schools and as a result, taking yet more money from them instead of providing the needed support. One only has to meet with school administrators and teachers like I have to understand that no school system wants to poorly serve its students. Teachers very much want their students to succeed. We need to show those districts and those teachers that their efforts are appreciated, and we should be working with those that are struggling, often through little fault of their own, rather than being quick to place the blame on those on the front lines of this effort.
How do you feel about the current system of ranking schools based on test performance? Performance on statewide tests consistently show that districts that serve affluent communities perform better than those with high concentrations of poverty. How do we improve educational outcomes for all students regardless of wealth? And how do we hold districts accountable in a way that doesn’t just measure wealth?
For thirty years citizens and our state courts have viewed our responsibility to fund schools as a joint one, to be managed equitably regardless of the wealth of the district. As long as the local property tax is the main funding source for our schools, we will never solve the problems of equal opportunity for students throughout the state, in which educational opportunity (and often the resulting performance outcomes) is based on where they happen to live. I am in agreement with the Ohio Supreme Court rulings insist that schools no longer be funded primarily by property taxes, and that there should be a more equitable statewide distribution of funds. All the while I believe that we should still allow more well-to-do localities the ability to improve themselves as they choose over a requisite baseline. Resources for our schools would be improved as well through readjusting our current tax code in ways I’ve talked about in earlier answers, and by stopping the drain of vast amounts of public money through the lack of accountability of charter schools.
Some argue the best way to close race- and income-based achievement gaps is increased funding for preschool programs. The group Groundwork Ohio argues that a child’s academic preparedness entering kindergarten is one of the greatest predictors of his or her success, yet preschool funding gets 6 percent of what the state spends on higher education. What are your thoughts on this? Do you have other ideas on how to improve kindergarten readiness for children, especially low-income children?
This all goes back to my points shared in previous questions regarding our school funding and support issues. As much as I’m obviously for comprehensive and quality learning for our children, the effectiveness of these pre-school early learning programs is negated if we simply move these children into school systems that are suffering due to lack of resources and educational opportunities, thanks to current inequalities in our school funding system in our state. These are also services that tend to be needed more in communities and districts that are less affluent, where the parents of children are less able to be in a position to support the early educational development of their children. Solving the bigger picture regarding the issues of school support are the way to better support these kinds of pre-K initiatives.
What is your position on school choice? What role do you think charters and private schools should play in the educational landscape?
The Ohio Constitution requires our state to fulfill its responsibility of funding “a thorough and efficient system of common schools throughout the state.” Charter and private schools are two very different things and play very different roles in our overall system of education. For instance, communities have water systems that are paid for by public funds and private funds. Citizens can choose to use the water from their public water supply or can purchase water from other sources. If a person decides to drink bottled water that is their choice, but the public water system remains for everyone else. In the same way, private schools can provide a valuable measuring stick to evaluate public schools, but they do not compete against the public system by draining tax dollars from them. Charter schools are not the same. They DO drain money from the system. They are also subject to some pretty hit or miss supervision, as well as performance and financial oversight, as the infamous ECOT debacle demonstrates. That failed endeavor was politically promoted and protected by my opponent’s party for years, as they funneled over $1 BILLION dollars of Ohio taxpayer money into this collapsed enterprise of corruption and cronyism.
How does Ohio need to improve higher education and deal with affordability and attracting students?
Back in 1870 with the founding of land grant colleges like the Ohio State University, the idea was to make higher education available to all by providing low or free tuition. This is the idea we need to work our way back to. By using our public community colleges and universities as a base, we can move towards markedly reducing tuition, and thus dramatically expand the talent base here in the state, making Ohio a much more attractive place for innovative industries. We here in the Dayton area are living proof of how this can make a difference. Charles F. Kettering, who came off a family farm in central Ohio, was able to earn an engineering degree at a very low cost, and he changed Dayton and all of America because of the opportunity that gave him. As the saying goes, education doesn’t cost, it pays. Or as a popular bumper sticker notes, “If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.”
What makes you more qualified than your opponent(s) to hold this office?
I’m more qualified than my opponent because I am in touch with what people need in District 73. I have spent years on the ground, looking into the issues we face, organizing people to demand more and hold elected officials accountable for their decisions. I know how to listen and how to empathize with others, and put myself into their shoes. It helps me see the bigger picture, and it helps me, together with the involved parties, come up with a solution that meets the needs of the problem.
Having run a small business in Greene County for more than 20 years, I know what it takes to be successful, and I know what kind of impact the state has on a business’s ability to be successful. I know what it’s like to have employees. I know what it’s like to motivate and lead. My hands on approach, where I treat each person as the important individual that they are, helps bring solutions to the front. My accounting background gives me the fiscal skills necessary when it comes to budgets and cost analysis in the Statehouse. My current position with a CPA helps me see what local businesses are up against when it comes to taxes and regulations imposed by Columbus.
I have spent my time during the campaign meeting with local stakeholders and various leaders and officials. This has given me a great understanding of the struggles different departments are facing. I’ve learned even more knocking on doors six days a week, listening to people where they live.
I have spent years advocating for our communities, and have stood up repeatedly to actions by politicians where they are not acting in the best interest of the public. I have shown I have the courage needed as a citizen to advocate for those whose voices are not being heard. I intend to carry that same dedication to Columbus, once elected. My commitment to not accepting any corporate PAC money shows that this claim is not just a platitude. I am dedicated to doing everything I can to serve my fellow Greene County’ers, and to help make the lives of everyday Ohioans better.
Ohio is establishing its medical marijuana program. Do you support full legalization? If so, under what circumstances? If not, why not?
I support the legalization of marijuana. Examples from Colorado and numerous other states from around the country show that many of the concerns people have had about legalization never came to pass. These states provide us good, working templates on how best to properly administer it. The rate of use is almost totally unaffected by legalization, except now we won’t be incarcerating people at taxpayer expense for no good outcome. We are seeing that it doesn’t increase crime, it actually reduces it by taking it out of the realm of the underground criminality that feeds off its illegality. Legalization can also result in large increases in state revenues. A 2018 Colorado State University study found that in just the one county of Pueblo, marijuana legalization had a net positive impact of over $35 million, and dispelled many myths of its supposed harms, finding no evidence of increased use by youth, or adding to homelessness or other socio-economic problems. Fears about legal marijuana harming property values not only didn’t come to pass, but the study found the exact opposite effect, with communities where it was legalized experiencing a 6% INCREASE in housing values.
Regarding medicinal marijuana, though I’m a supporter of it, Ohio’s recent bill authorizing it doesn’t look like the kind of legislation that we should have to provide the medical relief people are in need of. It seems more about establishing state sanctioned monopolies, with the likely result of making a handful of people wealthy, rather than actually and effectively providing the resources people need, thanks to all the restrictions on licensing for its processing and dispensing. For instance, approving the allocation of only ONE dispensary to serve THREE counties? The burden that puts on those who have difficulty traveling, some of whom are those who need this medication the most, is unhelpful. We don’t put those kinds of restrictions on pharmacies that sell opioids, so why for medicinal cannabis?
What is your stance on abortion issues?
I am not a supporter of abortion, personally. But this is bigger than my personal opinion. Abortion is a legal medical procedure in this country. I strongly support the Supreme Court decision that declared it unconstitutional to deny women the right to choose their own reproductive destiny. I also strongly support a small government that stays out of this very difficult and personal decision, and believe that a woman, her family, and her doctor are the only people who should be entering into this conversation.
Research and the experience of other countries who have successfully reduced the number of abortions performed shows us that there are three components involved in solving this problem: you need to educate people regarding contraception, there needs to be meaningful access to birth control, and you need safe and legal access to the procedure. Almost every single legislative effort on the part of my opponent and his party is to do the exact opposite of these things. We need to approach this problem with science and empirical evidence, rather than fact-less ideologies.
Given recent school shootings, what do you think Ohio can do to make schools safer?
School shootings cannot be isolated from the community as a whole. Gun violence is a societal problem, not just a school problem, and one that needs serious addressing outside the domain of school issues. I am completely opposed to recent proposals for the arming of teachers, as well as one idea by my opponent’s House colleague to allow students themselves to be armed. These propositions for allowing more firearms in schools are NOT helpful, and will only serve to make the school environment MORE dangerous. However, there are certainly some practical things that can be done in terms of making schools more secure in regards to the epidemic of gun violence, including requiring safety locks, secure doors, the ability to isolate a shooter, etc. My opponent introduced such bills in the 130th and 131st General Assembly. However, he couldn’t even get them to committee. Any legislation I would introduce I’ll fight for all the way.
Ohio has passed a lot of gun issues in recent years. Do you favor gun rights stand your ground, CCW, etc? Do you favor gun restrictions, universal background checks, bump stock ban, assault weapons ban, etc?
I support people’s rights to own firearms, particularly for hunting and personal protection, and I also support any practical legislation that helps to reduce the gun violence problem that our country is experiencing. This is a multi-faceted problem that will not be fixed by gun control legislation alone. I would call for more research into this epidemic, so that we can actually address the situation with knowledge, not just speculation. We need to recognize that the epidemic of gun violence is a public safety issue, not a political one. Responsible gun owners know that supporting the Second Amendment goes hand in hand with common-sense solutions towards reducing gun violence. That said, working towards those solutions has become very difficult, thanks to the outsized influence of special interest lobbies that are not concerned with actually solving the problem, but simply maintaining the status quo for their own economic benefit. And continuing on as ‘business as usual,’ and throwing up our hands with the attitude that there’s nothing we can do about this rampant epidemic of gun violence, one that has no equal anywhere else in the world outside a war zone, is not acceptable.
As for specific legislative measures, I oppose are the so-called ‘Stand Your Ground’ laws. And like the solid majority of Americans, I support universal background checks and bans on bump stocks. I also oppose arming teachers, and especially allowing students to carry firearms in schools. We could and probably should use the requirements of CCW as a model for more general gun safety legislation.
Schools, cities and counties continue to complain that state funding has been cut, forcing them to cut services and/or raise local taxes. How will you work with local governments?
This is one of the primary reasons I chose to stand up and run for office in the first place. My ongoing civic involvement in participating in my county meetings and learning more about local governing issues, made it clear to me that a good number of the problems we are facing today in managing our communities are the result of the ongoing reduction of monies being made available through the state’s Local Government Fund. The current Republican-controlled government in Columbus put a freeze on dispensing this money as a result of the Great Recession, supposedly in the name of balancing the state budget. But now this fund is sitting on billions of dollars of surplus money, and the state is still not returning this money back to the local communities from where it came, and where it is desperately needed. I intend on being an outspoken advocate in Columbus for the needs of our local communities, and will work with our local school and government officials to create a strong, united and informed coalition that will work for a state legislative agenda based on real local needs.
What else do you want the voters to know about you and your campaign?
I grew up in Australia, and my perspective of having been raised in another country helps show me where we need to improve, and allows me to think outside of the box when it comes to real solutions. Becoming an American means that you accept and understand the IDEA of America. One of the most inspiring and animating ideas of America is that power flows up from the people. I have always loved the fact that America was founded by a rebellion against government being a tool to confer privilege on insiders. That principle seems to have been lost and I want to help work to restore it. When I was seen by the Greene County Commission, not as a citizen inquiring into the operation of MY government, but as a critic that needed to be silenced, I could tell that those in power were more interested in serving themselves rather than the citizenry whom they are entrusted to serve. That is unacceptable to me. I’m running because I believe in America, and in the ideals and principles that have guided those who have strove to improve and expand its freedoms and opportunities for its citizens, working to ensure that the promise of the Pledge, that our nation stands for the liberty and justice of ALL, is actually fulfilled.
I have refused to take any corporate PAC money, and have relied totally on contributions from individuals. I have knocked on thousands of doors and learned so much about what everyday people think and what they need. I have explained my own views to people and have received incredibly valuable feedback. I will take that knowledge and those perspectives with me to Columbus. I don’t think anybody owes me their vote. Therefore, I have enough respect to ask for their vote. That’s how it’s supposed to work, and it’s what I am doing here – asking my fellow citizens for the honor of having their vote, so that I can provide representation that addresses the real needs of the people who live and work in our community – representation that puts People First!