MOUNT VERNON — Robert Gibbs and Lindsay Sutton, two of the candidates for the 18th District congressional seat election this November met for a town hall-style debate Saturday evening, called Ohio 18 Night, at the Mount Vernon Nazarene University. However, the absence of Congressman Zack Space from the debate, did not exclude his name from much of the discussion.
Ohio 18, a nonpartisan grassroots group which organized the debate, invited Space along with the other two candidates in July, according to Ohio 18 Night Coordinator Dan Offineer. According to Space’s campaign spokesman, he did not attend Saturday’s debate because it was not sponsored by a news organization or educational institution.
Republican candidate Robert Gibbs and Constitution Party candidate Lindsay Sutton, both of Holmes County, fielded questions provided by members of the audience, after providing short opening statements.
“I’m not a politician,” Sutton, who retired from the Air Force in 1991, told the crowd at the beginning of the evening. “I entered this race because I think our country is in serious trouble. When we have a president who doesn’t think much of our Constitution, somebody needs to do something.”
Sutton stressed his belief in smaller government, relief from taxes, and a return to the basic framework of the United States Constitution in his opening remarks.
“Nobody in this room tonight really knows what freedom is,” Sutton said. “I want freedom.”
Gibbs, a hog farmer with eight years experience in the Ohio Legislature, told the crowd he believes Americans have been let down by Space and the rest of the sitting Congress.
“We cannot tolerate a congressman who does not do his due diligence,” Gibbs said. “We need to change the direction of this country.”