The Blade/Jeremy Wadsworth
Ohio's redrawn 5th U.S. House District favors the re-election of incumbent Republican Bob Latta. But Democratic challenger ANGELA ZIMMANN offers ideas, energy, and a commitment to overcoming the stalemate in Congress that make her a better choice for the district.
GOP gerrymandering added parts of west and south Toledo to the 5th District, along with western Lucas County suburbs that lean Republican. The revised district also includes Wood County and all or part of a dozen other northwest Ohio counties.
Representative Latta, 56, a lawyer from Bowling Green, has held the 5th District seat since 2007. He calls the economy his top issue, but has done little to improve this region's economy. He cast a misguided vote against the federal bailout that saved Chrysler and General Motors.
More positively, Mr. Latta is responsive to constituents in his expansive district. He has sponsored legislation designed to help ease prescription-drug shortages in hospitals. His sensible plan to widen eligibility for retired military reservists seeking health-care coverage also has become law.
A former state lawmaker and county commissioner, Mr. Latta says he seeks greater congressional oversight of federal regulations that affect business. A member of the energy and commerce committee, he supports an "all of the above" energy policy focused on energy independence and domestic production, including clean coal, natural gas, and oil.
On broader policy issues, however, Mr. Latta has not been pragmatic or constructive, instead clinging to the ideology of the far right. He understands the country's growing problem with deficit spending, but ignores his own party's share of the blame for it while supporting an impractical constitutional amendment that ostensibly would reduce the deficit.
Ms. Zimmann, 39, of Springfield Township, is a better choice in the 5th District. A Lutheran minster and writing instructor at Bowling Green State University, she offers pragmatic ideas and a willingness to work with people outside her party to carry them out.
Ms. Zimmann says she supports the rights of gun owners and generally favors smaller government and lower taxes. She criticizes Mr. Latta for his record on women's issues, including his opposition to reproductive rights and to legislation that would guarantee women equal pay for equal work and increase funding for domestic-violence protection.
She says she would work in Congress to end tax incentives for businesses to expand outside the country. She seeks increased funding for veterans and job-training programs and for road construction and other infrastructure improvements.
Ms. Zimmann says she wants to return to Ohio a greater share of the money it sends to Washington in gasoline taxes. She views community colleges as critical to training people for good-paying jobs in manufacturing and health care.
Mr. Latta touts his conservative credentials, but the nation needs neither "conservative" nor "liberal" ideas and policies, nor politicians who are bound to them. It needs innovative ideas that work, and elected officials who carry them out in a bipartisan way.
Libertarian Eric Eberly of Bowling Green is also on the ballot in the 5th District. But ANGELA ZIMMANN is the best candidate to help move the district, and the country, forward.