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NORTH BALTIMORE, Ohio -- Like CSX trains passing on their way to and from this community's new intermodal railroad hub, candidates for the 5th Congressional District seat met for the first time this general election season today in a candidates' forum but didn't collide.
U.S. Rep. Robert Latta (R., Bowling Green) and challengers Angela Zimmann (D., Springfield Township) and Eric Eberly (Libertarian, Bowling Green) were among a dozen candidates attending "Coffee with the Candidates" at the North Baltimore Public Library Community Room sponsored by TheNBXpress, a local on-line news source.
They spoke several candidates apart in a program that gave each candidate five minutes, then stuck around later to greet the audience of about 25 people.
Located in southern Wood County, North Baltimore is going through a business boom because of the development of a CSX railroad intermodal yard just west of town that is attracting warehousing firms to the area. Traffic was detoured entering the downtown Saturday because a State Rt. 18 bypass is being built to the CSX terminal.
Ms. Zimmann said she is a mother, a foster mother, a professor at Bowling Green State University, and a Lutheran minister with a background in engineering. She is a writing instructor at BGSU, according to the university's faculty directory. She said her engineering training would help her promote government investment in infrastructure.
"This race is about getting someone elected who's willing to work hard and serve the needs of northwest Ohio," Ms. Zimmann said.
"I, too, am against burdensome regulations and high taxes. Like Mitt Romney I feel there are some regulations that are necessary and some clearly that are not. Like Mitt Romney and Barack Obama I believe taxes are necessary, but we need to keep the tax rate low to keep our economy stimulated," Ms. Zimmann said.
She said after the event that she supports continuing the Bush tax cuts in effect for all income levels except those on family incomes over $250,000, which is President Obama's position.
She called for cutting tax loopholes that she said send jobs overseas, and would consider cutting the corporate tax rate.
"We need to focus on infrastructure," she said, and attacked Mr. Latta for what she said was the disappearance of 38,000 jobs in northwest Ohio during his tenure, which began in 2007.
"He voted against the auto loans. This is just wrong -- the wrong representation for Democrats, Republicans, and everyone," Ms. Zimmann told the forum audience.
A lawyer and former Wood County commissioner, state senator, and state representative before his election to the Congressional seat once held by his father, Delbert Latta, Mr. Latta cited his family's roots in the area.
He said that during the summer he visited 80 businesses, factories, and farms, and said complaints about four federal issues kept coming up: regulations, corporate taxes, energy, and health-care costs.
He said he helped lead the fight against a regulation that prohibited the children of farm families from working on farms.
"People couldn't believe it. I was glad to work with them to make sure that didn't happen," Mr. Latta said. "It was a bad piece of regulation."
In an interview afterward, Ms. Zimmann said she wants to debate Mr. Latta head-to-head, but so far he has not agreed to it. The event at the North Baltimore library was the first time the two had appeared together since a candidate forum in the same location during the March 6 primary season, she said.
Mr. Latta said he attended three candidate events in the district last week and has three scheduled for this week.
Mr. Latta said he opposed the Troubled Assets Relief Program, from which the 2009 auto industry rescue was funded, because it gave the Secretary of the Treasury too much power.
"That's one of the reasons we're $16 trillion in debt in this country today," Mr. Latta said. He said the bailout left out the white-collar retirees of Delphi Corp., a spin-off of General Motors Co.
"People know that I bring the value of where I'm from," Mr. Latta said. "You don't spend what you don't have, and you run a federal government like you run your home, or you're out of business."
Mr. Eberly said he is part of a "revolutionary movement" to restore government to a smaller size.
A Realtor, he blamed the housing crisis on the federal government, and questioned the accuracy of a fresh unemployment report that showed joblessness decreasing.
"I think we have to battle socialism in this country. Capitalism is the best path to prosperity," he said.
The newly redrawn 5th District takes in all or parts of 14 northwest Ohio counties, including parts of South and West Toledo and all of western Lucas County.
Also in attendance were candidates for two Wood County commission seats, Repulicans Jim Carter and Doris Herringshaw and Demoncrat Joel Kuhlman; state House of Representatives District 3, Tim Brown (R), Nathan Eberly (Libertarian), and Kelly Wicks (D); state Senate District 2, Randy Gardner (R); county recorder, Julie Baumgardner (D), and Sheriff Mark Wasylyshyn (R).