By Sherry Larson
The Adams County Republican Party, chaired by Ty Pell, hosted a full house of interested voters on January 25 at the newly opened Adams County Training Center. The forum, which showcased federal, state, and local candidates, ran smoothly as Pell introduced and facilitated the evening, efficiently providing questions and issues to each candidate before the forum. Those individuals wanting to ask additional questions to the candidates were given time during break intervals where they could approach them one-on-one. This article will focus on candidates at the federal and state levels.
Ohio’s 2nd District Congressional Seat
First to speak were the candidates for the 2nd Congressional seat, replacing Representative Brad Wenstrup. Eleven Republicans are running for the office, including Phil Heimlich, Niraj Antani, Kim Georgeton, Ron Hood, Tom Hwang, Larry Kidd, Derek Myers, Tim O’Hara, Charles Tassell, David Taylor, and Shane Wilkin. Heimlich, Tassell, Georgeton, Taylor, and Wilkin spoke at the forum.
Phil Heimlich (the Heimlich Maneuver was named for his father), out of Cincinnati, is a former Hamilton County Prosecutor, Cincinnati City Councilman, and Hamilton County Commissioner. Heimlich has been referred to as “Ohio’s Liz Cheney” and a spokesperson for “Big D” – Democracy. Heimlich drew inspiration from his father as he watched him fight the medical establishment and felt it necessary to take on the Republican establishment sometimes. He describes himself as a loyal and conservative Republican, particularly in balancing budgets. He said of President Trump, “He added seven and a half trillion dollars to the deficit, which I don’t consider conservative.” Heimlich is also a “law and order” guy who found the events of January 6, 2021, death, damages, and injuries disturbing and said, “That isn’t conservative.”
Upon talking with Adams County residents, Heimlich discerned that our community feels a bit forgotten or slighted. He understands the need to balance the maintenance of our rural landscape and the necessity of job development. He plans to concentrate on building infrastructure for the county, especially natural gas. Heimlich recognizes Adams County as the number one county in Ohio for the length of job commute. Heimlich prides himself on working across the aisle and getting things done. He refuses to engage in personal attacks. Heimlich concluded, “I will always put the country first, party second, and I will always put the Constitution ahead of any individual.”
Charles Tassel is a council member in Deer Park and an elder of the Baptist Church where he attends. He is married and has three children. Thinking ahead to his future grandchildren, “What are we leaving them?” he asked. Tassel focused on fiscal responsibility and illegal immigration, saying, “Every state is a border state.” He continued, “You can’t fix the wall if you can’t fix the gate.”
Tassel concluded by mentioning his work on life, traditional marriage, and protecting borders. He is against males and females competing in sports together.
Kim Georgeton is an “America First Mom” and a constitutional conservative Republican. She is a mom and a small business owner. She said, “I have learned how to overcome the tyranny that seeps into our country through our businesses and our education system.” Georgeton described the Constitution as a “living and breathing document.” that “requires vigilant advocates.”
Georgeton said, “Ohio does not have one single Republican congressman.” She continued, “We need to have more women in Congress – women like me and Marjorie Taylor Green.” “Mothers have been fighting to protect the unborn. Mothers have been fighting to fix our kids’ schools and to protect parental rights. I think it’s time we send another into Congress.” Georgeton displayed her pocket Constitution and said she never wanted to see rights violated. She said, “My only focus is on you.” She emphasized her goal of protecting children from becoming victims in the classroom and employees from becoming victims in the workplace. She said, “I do not intend to be a ‘go along to get along’ Congresswoman.” She touched on the need for infrastructure in Adams County, highlighting the need for natural gas and finding creative ways to get it. She stated that a big issue for our county is welfare reform. After her presentation, the Defender spoke with Georgeton and asked her to elaborate on welfare reform. She said, “I don’t have any specific ideas other than maybe legislation that will help people stay together.” She wants to figure out a way to incentivize families to stay together and provide a way for them to make a living – “Kind of a bridge to make sure we can help wean them out of it.”
David Taylor owns and operations Sardinia Ready Mix, Inc. in Brown County. He is a political outsider, a Trump conservative, and a businessman. Taylor said this is his first time in politics. He is a graduate of Miami University and the Dayton School of Law and served as the former assistant prosecutor of Clermont County. He said, “I want to make sure that the district has somebody who loves the people and loves the place and also has the tools to represent you in Washington, D.C.”
Taylor discussed the need for a secure border and the coordination of China with the cartels to provide illicit fentanyl. He said, “Inflation absolutely drags down the people of the 2nd District in Adams County.” He believes we must return to Trump’s policies on these issues and energy.
The first issue that he thinks most affects Adams County is the border situation. He said, “All the problems at the border come right to your doorstep.” The other issue he highlighted was the need for broadband and the “cell phone deserts.” He explained the missed opportunities of remote working, “You can’t get a job, and these are good paying jobs, when you don’t have reliable internet,” he said. Taylor concluded, “My job is to represent the people of Adams County and the rest of the district, and I won’t forget that.”
“Father, husband, uncle, brother, fighter” is how Shane Wilken views himself. Wilken is an Ohio State Senator from the 17th District. Wilken listed things we should be “angry” about in our federal government. The first issue of concern is the border. He highlighted illegal immigration, child trafficking and sex trafficking. He elaborated on the cost of money, law enforcement, and a large part of a generation. Wilken announced that he was one of the Republicans to override Governor DeWine’s veto of House Bill 68 (for a complete description of the bill, refer to www.legislature.ohio.gov). Another issue Wilken discussed was abortion. He said he has a 100% pro-life voting record.
Wilken said that the “government tries to suppress our pursuit of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. They want to dictate to us how we live our lives.” He believes that the current hot topic in the federal government is whether someone can have a Zyn Nicotine Pouch. He said, “It seems a little crazy, but that’s a big topic issue right now.” He also said that the government is trying to suppress our 2nd Amendment rights. He announced that he was the only candidate endorsed by the Buckeye Firearm Association with an A-plus rating. “In the last cycle of the 132 members in the Ohio General Assembly, I was the only member to receive an A-plus from the NRA and Buckeye Firearms.”
“Experience is not a bad thing,” said Wilken. “Being able to get things done, move the ball forward, and make things better for each and every one of you.”
State Central Committee
Greg Simpson is running for State Central Committee of the 14th District. Simpson has a degree in Agriculture and will soon have a Masters in Theology. Simpson stated that he is a conservation and is pro-gun and pro-life. He runs a prison ministry and works for a food ministry.
Simpson explained that as a member of the State Central Committee, one recruits candidates, interviews candidates, endorses candidates, and raises money. Simpson encouraged voters to ask questions and suggested they ask about social security, saying that the program will be broke in 10 years.
Simpson said Adams County has the greatest opportunity sitting right on the river. He said more traffic goes past Manchester and Ripley than the Panama Canal. Simpson said he can’t say enough about the people of Adams County, and he thinks they are “great.”
Ohio House of Representatives District 90
The Republican race for District 90’s State representative has incumbent Justin Pizzulli up against Tim Wheeler and Gina Collinsworth from Scioto County.
If people call Tim Wheeler from Scioto County to do his job, he said, “They are really happy to see me.” Wheeler is in the septic business and spends six days a week helping people. He said, “I get out of bed every morning and go to work to put food on the table, pay the bills, and raise a family.” He discussed the concerns folks have with the government. He highlighted the importance of infrastructure and job creation.
Wheeler also noted that drug abuse is a big problem in our District, and the numerous drug rehab centers in the southern counties are problematic. He believes having a plethora of centers deters businesses from entering the District. He also noted that families do not want to live beside rehab centers. In that same vein, Wheeler believes people must wish to have help before rehabilitation works, and we are wasting taxpayer dollars when we force someone not ready to go.
Regarding bureaucracy and small business, Wheeler said all the paperwork destroys small businesses. He also mentioned inflation and the adverse effects on this District.
Gina Collinsworth from Scioto County was thrilled to see the impressive turnout for the forum and said, “Everyone is here and engaged tonight because we care about our country.” Collinsworth is pro-God, pro-family, pro-life, pro-guns, and pro-Trump’s America First agenda. Working for the Ohio Valley Regional Development Commission, she understands infrastructure. She works with county commissioners, engineering departments, and township trustees.
“I love Appalachia. I’m proud to be from Appalachia, and I know what we have is very special,” said Collinsworth, who believes experience and integrity matter. She said, “If you’re going to be a public servant, trust is number one.” Collinsworth emphasized that people must be able to count on their elected officials to do what they’ve been elected to do. She said, “You can’t go up to Columbus and come back here and tell us a different story – that’s a problem in public service.”
Collinsworth believes in eliminating the income tax to have more cash in our pockets. “Without the income tax, we are more attractive to businesses,” she said. “When business comes, we have more jobs.” She elaborated on the District’s addiction issues and said that people have a purpose in their lives if there are jobs.
“This is what the state representative race is about – public service,” said Collinsworth, who is currently endorsed by the Scioto County Republican Club, Brown County Republican Central Committee, Americans for Prosperity, and SMART Local 33 with several other endorsements pending. She commended all the candidates for stepping up and showing that they care. “I think it’s fantastic that we care about our counties and country.”
Incumbent State Representative of the 90th District Justin Pizzulli refers to himself as a “common sense conservative.” He is also a commercial freight conductor in Portsmouth and a part-time realtor. Pizzulli hopes he can continue to serve the District in Columbus.
Pizzulli announced that he took a stand last week and voted to override Governor DeWine’s veto of the SAFE Act. “Governor DeWine said he thinks it should be up to the parents to make that kind of decision. I’m sorry when you’re a parent, and you want your kid to have a gender mutilation surgery, you should be in jail,” said Pizzulli. He clarified that Jesus died for all our sins, “but we have to draw a line somewhere, and that line starts with our kids.”
Pizzulli emphasized our right to bear arms. He explained that his first bill passed on the House floor last year was to expand gun rights. He said that sometimes, “The only way we can defend ourselves is with our gun.” He continued, “I think that the only permit we need is our Constitution – our 2nd Amendment right.”
Talking about the “big picture,” Pizzulli said he believes the government and certain corporations are robbing the American people blind. He vowed to protect wages and families. He continued talking about the need for a tested and trusted hard worker and emphasized his upset about the Ohio High School Athletic Association’s “price gouging” student ticket prices to $15.00. He introduced a bill to lower them, saying, “It shouldn’t cost $100.00 for a family to go out to the ballgame.”
Local candidates followed the federal and state candidates giving Adams County voters the ability to hear a broad reach of individuals contending for their vote.