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HURON, Ohio -- U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo) touted her seniority on the powerful House Appropriations Committee; U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D. Cleveland) burnished his image as the anti-war candidate who champions workers' rights, and Graham Veysey, a political newcomer, called himself the fresh face who can represent the younger generation in the newly reconfigured 9th House District.
The three Democrats answered questions from panelists and the audience of 600 people in a spirited, yet civil forum at Bowling Green State University's Firelands campus Thursday evening.
Miss Kaptur, calling herself "a jobs Democrat," said she knows the 9th District best, having served in Congress since 1982.
"I serve on the committee that really matters," she said, citing her position as the second-ranking Democrat on the Appropriations Committee that is responsible for parceling out much of the spending from Congress.
Mr. Kucinich, a former Cleveland mayor who was elected to Congress in 1996, scored applause several times for his anti-war stance and support of workers.
He drew a standing ovation from a group when he decried a lockout of workers from the Sandusky-area U.S. Tsubaki factory.
"They have been locked out in the cold for more than one year," he said.
Mr. Veysey, 29, who has worked on the political campaigns of Howard Dean and President Obama, said if he's successful in his first bid for office, he will only serve a maximum of four terms.
A question from the audience sought their positions on abortion and same-sex marriage. All three supported same-sex marriage, with Mr. Kucinich calling the choice "a basic human right" for individuals to decide.
He drew applause when he added that abortion should not be decided by government, saying, "We should stop making women's bodies a battleground."
Miss Kaptur, calling herself "pro-family," touched on the abortion issue, saying government should not pay for the procedure. The issue of same-sex marriage is one that should be decided by each state, she said.
Mr. Veysey said he supported any couple who want to get married, calling himself a "pro-choice candidate."
"I am a strong supporter of the [lesbian, gay, transgender, bisexual] community," he said. They should be allowed to get married. It's as simple as that."
The candidates were in agreement over the need for a better immigration policy that would make it easier for foreign students to become U.S. citizens.
When asked what their first priority in Congress would be, Mr. Veysey said, "jobs, jobs, jobs."
"We need to shed the 'rust belt' image," he said.
He also cited the size of the national debt as a challenge and said his opponents' combined years in office will leave the country mired in the status quo.
Mr. Kucinich answered the question by saying he wants to continue focusing on the water quality of the Great Lakes and cited the threat posed by Davis-Besse nuclear power plant, along the shores of Lake Erie, and its recent problems.
Miss Kaptur responded that she wants to continue supporting funding NASA's Plum Brook Station, as well as the John Glenn facility near Cleveland.
Plum Brook is NASA's 6,400-acre remote test installation site near Sandusky, Ohio.
The forum, sponsored by the Sandusky Register, was held in the Firelands campus conference center. The three also debated in Cleveland and Toledo prior to the Huron forum Thursday.
The panelists, Andy Ouriel of the Register, Brad Dicken of the Elyria Chronicle-Telegram, and Patrick Pfanner, a BGSU Firelands student, asked questions that each candidate answered, followed by questions submitted from the audience.
Matt Westerhold, the Register's managing editor, was the moderator.
The winner of the March 6 Democratic primary election will face the winner of the Republican primary.
Contact Jim Sielicki at: email@example.com or 419-724- 6050.41.39505 -82.55518
Kaptur, Veysey focus on jobs; Kucinich gets standing ovation.