U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo) and her challenger Richard Iott (R., Monclova Township) shared many of their ideas and a limited number of attacks in a unique candidates' forum held at the Sylvania Senior Center Thursday night.
The event, hosted by the Sylvania Chamber of Commerce and attended by about 70 people, was moderated by Robert Helmer, President of Lourdes College. Each candidate was asked the same three questions, given three minutes to respond to each of them, and was not permitted to mention his or her opponent.
Miss Kaptur and Mr. Iott, who are running to represent Ohio's 9th Congressional District, nearly followed the rules to perfection. It wasn't until the last question when the two candidates nearly crossed the line, and Mr. Iott jumped across it during his closing statement responding to what he felt was an attack levied against him by Miss Kaptur.
Responding to Mr. Helmer's question of what can be done to change the perception of a lack of integrity in Congress, Mr. Iott assailed representatives who secure federal dollars — or Congressional earmarks — for their districts. Earlier in the day, Mr. Iott held a press conference to announce his new campaign ad that accuses Miss Kaptur for using Congressional earmarks to secure campaign contributions. "Just because you contribute to my campaign fund, and you don't, I've got an earmark for your business and not yours, that's not ethical," Mr. Iott said.
Miss Kaptur answered the same question by lecturing on campaign finance reform, saying she's pushing in Congress a limit on campaign spending and donations. In the past, her campaign has mentioned that Mr. Iott is largely funding his own campaign and spending hundreds of thousands of dollars.
"For those candidates who can't go to their own huge bank account and pull out millions of dollars in order to purchase advertising time … it becomes an electronic game in the closing weeks of the campaign and it's really not fair," Miss Kaptur said.
According to the most recent campaign finance report from July, Miss Kaptur had $1.04 million in her campaign fund, while Mr. Iott had more than $270,000 in his fund but had raised $876,967 this year.
Miss Kaptur then offered her closing remarks, and when the microphone was returned to Mr. Iott he defended his self-funded campaign and shot back at Miss Kaptur. "If you look at the federal filings, you'll see my opponent only has 14 individual donors, the rest are PACs, unions, and defense contractors," Mr. Iott said, thus shattering the event rules.
Other candidates who spoke Thursday night were state Rep. Barbara Sears (R., Monclova Township), who is seeking re-election in the 46th district against Harry Barlos, a Democrat from Maumee, as well as George Sarantou, a Republican from Sylvania and Carol Contrada, a Democrat from Sylvania Township, who are running for Lucas County commissioner. Mr. Barlos, who has been dealing this week with the death of his mother, did not attend.