Craig Kupferberg of Findlay, a candidate in the three-way Republican primary for the Ohio Senate’s 1st District seat, wasted no time tonight challenging incumbent state Sen. Robert McColley, R-Napoleon, on the current state of GOP leadership in Columbus.
Kupferberg, McColley, and Bob Barker Jr. of Van Wert all participated in a candidate forum held at the University of Findlay. The forum was hosted by the American Association of University Women, The Courier, UFTV and WFIN radio.
McColley, previously a state representative, was appointed to the Senate seat in November after it was vacated by former state Sen. Cliff Hite, R-Findlay. Hite resigned after admitting “inappropriate behavior” with a state employee.
McColley, 33, is now seeking election to the post.
The Republican winner will compete in November with Democrat Adam Papin, 36, of Bryan, who is unopposed in his party’s primary.
The 1st Senate District includes all of Henry, Putnam, Williams, Defiance, Paulding, Hancock, Van Wert and Hardin counties; the southeastern corner of Fulton County; and northern sections of Auglaize and Logan counties.
Each candidate was given three minutes to give opening statements at the forum.
“Republican candidates typically declare that they’re conservative, particularly when it comes to pro-life, pro-Second Amendment, as well as expounding Judeo-Christian values. On these, I think all three candidates agree,” Kupferberg said.
“So on what conservative values do we differ is the question? Ronald Reagan said centralized power is always the enemy to liberty. One Judeo-Christian value is that of free will. To me, in government, free will represents local control and local control is the main reason that I decided to run to represent you in Columbus, as our Republican leadership in Columbus is taking away our local control in favor of centralized power.”
Kupferberg cited Ohio’s new practice of collecting local business taxes, and then charging a handling fee for collections. About 160 municipalities filed a class-action lawsuit in 2017 to stop the state takeover of the collections, but the case was dismissed by a Franklin County Common Pleas Court in February. The City of Findlay was among the municipalities participating in the lawsuit.
A former principal and assistant superintendent for Findlay City Schools, Kupferberg, 58, said, “Our Legislature is slowly taking over the entire public education system and during it into something that would be more recognizable in West Virginia’s, Kentucky’s, Oklahoma’s and Arizona’s public education system. All four experienced teacher work stoppages this spring because of the horrible conditions of their schools in a state-controlled system.”
He said the most recent example of Ohio’s power grab for control of public education is House Bill 512, which was introduced earlier this year. The bill would create a new agency, combining most of the duties of the Ohio Department of Education, the Ohio Department of Higher Education and the Governor’s Office of Workforce Transformation.
Kupferberg said it would then be up to Ohio’s governor to appoint the head of the new agency, which he described as an “education czar.”
Kupferberg said McColley has been part of the leadership in Columbus for years, and it’s time to send Republicans to Columbus that will stick to their conservative values.
McColley was quick to counter. In his opening remarks, McColley said he’s the only candidate in the race who has a proven conservative record.
McColley said he does oppose House Bill 512 because it is a centralization issue. As for the culture in Columbus, McColley said he believes it is changing.
McColley said he has introduced a bill in the Ohio Senate that would eliminate 30 percent of the regulations across all state departments.
“Ohio, actually through executive rule making, has become one of the most regulated states in the country. It’s hurting our businesses, it’s hurting their productivity, and it is preventing the growth we really deserve to have here in Ohio. I promise to take that seriously, and I promise to pass this bill. This is a bill that is very, very important to the Senate,” McColley said.
“I find it curious that we are one of the most regulated states in the nation, because we have Republicans that are the majority in the House, the Senate and in the governor’s mansion,” Kupferberg said. “How does that happen with Republicans in the majority? It’s not a conservative principle. Again, we need to deregulate, and we need to deregulate not only our businesses, but our schools and give local control back to the local officials. I wish that I could hear other Republicans talking about that as well, because I really believe local control is an issue that needs to be addressed.”
Barker, 52, said he also decided to run out of frustration with government leaders.
“I am one of the millions of Americans who are completely fed up with government and the way it is being run today. The amount of corruption and the fact that there is no justice at all. I’m not aware of anybody who has actually been brought to trial for the crimes that they have committed.
“To the people I speak to, this is completely outrageous and it has to stop. We have to have accountability in our government.”
Courier reporter Denise Grant is developing this story.