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Published: Thursday, 4/27/2006

EMT, teacher face off in 76th House District

BY JENNIFER FEEHAN
BLADE STAFF WRITER

FINDLAY - Two political newcomers are vying for the Republican nomination for the 76th Ohio House District, although one has a familiar name in at least part of the district.

Cliff Hite, considered Findlay High School's winningest football coach, is running against Jeremy D. Swartz, an emergency medical technician from Findlay, in Tuesday's primary. The winner will face Democrat John F. Kostyo of Findlay in November.

"I hope people don't make a decision based on who I'm running against and his name," Mr. Swartz said. "I have a lot of things I'd like to accomplish. I'm a good person, and I've been in public service a long time. I just hope people base their decision on ideas, not on names."

Mr. Swartz, 29, works as an emergency medical technician for Toledo-based Lifestar Ambulance Service. He also works as a part-time EMT for the Wyandot County and Upper Sandusky emergency medical squads and as a disaster assistance employee for the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

He said working in Del Ray Beach, Fla. in the wake of Hurricane Wilma sealed his decision to seek State Rep. Mike Gilb's seat because he saw firsthand how inefficient government could be.

Mr. Gilb (R., Findlay) decided not to seek re-election in the district, which includes all of Hancock and Hardin counties and a portion of Auglaize County.

Mr. Hite, who resigned as Findlay's football coach following a 10-2 season, has been teaching history and government for nearly 29 years. He said he has wanted to put his words into action for a long time.

"I tell my students every year, 'You've got to give back to your community," Mr. Hite, 51, said. "When they said, 'What are you going to do when you retire?' I said I'm going to give back."

He has not retired from teaching but has secured an unpaid leave of absence from Findlay City Schools for the fall when he hopes to be campaigning for the November election.

"I care very much about schools and school funding, and I think we need to make some vast improvements in our school systems in Ohio," Mr. Hite said. "I also believe that because Ohio is losing people in the 18-35 age group faster than most states that we have to develop ways to attract them to stay here."

He said he would work to reduce Ohio's income tax rate and to eliminate estate taxes, which he believes would encourage business development and the kinds of jobs that will keep young adults in the state.

Mr. Swartz said he too would push for lower income taxes as a way to attract and retain businesses. He also would propose a plan to help Ohioans with health care costs by taking the first $20 deducted for state income tax in their paychecks and giving it back to them for health-care expenses.

He also is proposing an alternative energy plan that would require gas stations in Ohio to sell alternative fuels like biodiesel and ethanol to help lower the state's dependency on foreign oil. And he would like to see more ethanol and biodiesel refineries built in Ohio.

"I believe we need to jump on the bandwagon as a state and promote this," he said.

Contact Jennifer Feehan

at jfeehan@theblade.com

or 419-353-5972.



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