PORT CLINTON - Redistricting in the state House district in Erie and Ottawa counties has pitted two legislators against one another.
The men went door-to-door in the 80th House District, taking the debate to the voters and campaigning cordially side-by-side. In spite of that cooperation, the two differ on many key issues.
Chris Redfern (D., Catawba Island Township) said he thinks his opponent, Tom Lendrum (R., Huron), and other Republicans, were too quick to raise taxes, something that wasn't good for the well-being of area families who are suffering in the current weak economy.
Mr. Lendrum said Republicans, who controlled the legislature, did what they had to do: balanced the budget.
“I would have been more than happy to vote for any Democratic proposal to balance the budget without raising taxes,” Mr. Lendrum said. “I didn't see one because there wasn't one. All the Democrats did was sit back on their behinds and complain.”
The newly formed district, of Erie and most of Ottawa County, comprises about 80 percent of Mr. Redfern's original district. He said constituents in that region are concerned about the budget, the economy, and school funding. Mr. Redfern said he is a “fiscal conservative” who wants to keep spending and taxes in check.
Mr. Lendrum said the key to economic revitalization might be to create more small businesses in the area.
He said one of his biggest accomplishments as a state representative was an election reform bill, brought on by the election confusion in Florida. The bill modified some state election rules, required the state to count military ballots that usually aren't dated and can arrive late, and to form a commission to decide what voting machines are acceptable in Ohio.
Mr. Redfern said he led the effort for the state to buy Lonz Winery on Middle Bass Island after the terrace collapsed, killing one person and injuring 75 others. He said he also led the drive to ban oil and gas drilling in Lake Erie. And he joined others in pushing for more money from the gasoline tax to go to projects on Lake Erie, including marinas, dredging, and more access to the lake.
He supports the proposed shipwreck preserve off Kelleys Island, which would be the first in the state.
“This is something that's very new. We're really breaking new ground here. I guess it would be more appropriate to say we're breaking new water here,” Mr. Redfern said.
Both men said the state has done what it can to regulate the Davis-Besse nuclear power plant, which has been shut down since February because of a hole in the reactor head, and that the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission did not work hard enough to oversee the plant.
Mr. Redfern said the state has a radiological expert on hand to help and advise local officials and residents. Mr. Lendrum said the plant is essential to the economic health of the region.
Mr. Redfern, 38, is the only Democratic legislator in northwest Ohio outside Lucas County. He was the only Democrat in the area to vote in favor of allowing residents to carry concealed weapons.
“I worry about the mood of the voters I represent. Then I worry about the Democrats,” he said.
Mr. Lendrum said he hopes to help make school financing better and less complicated, and to reduce the levels of administration in state government.
“In my favor are my age and experience,” said Mr. Lendrum, 74. “I approached the campaign to win. I stand as good a chance to win as anybody, and I'll let you know how I did Nov. 6.”