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Published: Friday, 10/22/2004

Latta, familiar foe face off for 2nd time

BOWLING GREEN - Two years have passed, but the issues facing Ohio have changed very little, said Scott McCarty, a Perrysburg Township Democrat trying for the second time to unseat State Rep. Bob Latta (R., Bowling Green).

Mr. Latta, 48, is seeking his second two-year term representing Ohio's 6th House District, which encompasses all of Wood County. He defeated Mr. McCarty for the job in 2002 by a more than two-to-one margin.

Mr. McCarty, 44, a union construction worker, said he felt compelled to take a second shot.

"I have some beliefs that need to be taken care of in Wood County, and they're not being taken care of," he said.

At the top of the list, he said, are jobs.

"We need jobs in northwest Ohio," Mr. McCarty said. "We have to stop outsourcing on the federal and state levels. Right here in Wood County in the 'Crossroads of America' we have some of the promised land in the United States to put manufacturing plants. We're 15 minutes to rails, 30 to 45 minutes to air and the Great Lakes. There are trucking companies all around. That's a selling point to companies that want to get their product out."

Putting people to work is the best way to cure what ails Ohio's economy, Mr. McCarty said. He also is a proponent of legalizing gambling so that dollars Ohioans now spend at casinos in Canada and neighboring states can stay in Ohio.

Mr. Latta disagrees. He said the state cannot overlook the social costs, specifically families bankrupted by the addiction of gambling.

"The questions is, should you really try to build your tax base off gambling? I don't think so," he said.

Knowing the state is looking at a $4 billion deficit going into its next two-year budget, Mr. Latta said the legislature will have to examine the areas where costs are increasing the most, specifically Medicaid.

"Everything is on the table because it's escalating so much and so fast," he said.

Mr. Latta, who sits on the House Ways and Means Committee and chairs the criminal justice committee, said he wants to make sure state tax dollars are being spent as effectively as possible, so that the maximum amount of education dollars, for example, goes to local school districts rather than to the state Department of Education in Columbus.

Although Mr. Latta supported a temporary 1-cent sales tax to help bail out the state's budgetary problems two years ago, he said he would not seek to renew that tax when it expires June 20, 2005.

"We told the people we wouldn't do it," he said.

Mr. McCarty said Ohioans probably do not even notice the tax, and, if elected, he would take a serious look at renewing it.

He said he wants to revamp school funding, close tax loopholes for businesses, and propose legislation that would stiffen environmental regulations and penalties for large-scale livestock operations like the dairy farm near Weston and two others proposed in Wood County.

"If these factory farms follow the environmental laws set down for them, I don't have a problem with them," he said. "But I have a problem with them dumping liquid wastes on fields that run into our water system in Wood County."

- Jennifer Feehan

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