MOUNT VERNON — In the race for the 90th District State Representative, the incumbent, Republican Margaret Ann Ruhl, is being challenged by local attorney John Ryerson, the candidate for the Democratic Party.
Ruhl is serving her first term in the Ohio House of Representatives. She represents the 90th House District, which includes Knox and Morrow counties, as well as portions of Richland and Ashland counties.
Prior to her election to the Ohio House, Ruhl served as Knox County auditor since 1995 and as auditor for the city of Mount Vernon from 1983 to 1995.
“Unemployment is facing us,” Ruhl said. “So we need to get more jobs. Taxes are killing people. Not literally. But we need to work on lowering taxes. We need to work on our schools. I don’t believe the funding has been solved with that. And we need to educate our kids, but at what cost? Those are my top three priorities.”
As far as agriculture issues, Ruhl feels that is an important part of her platform.
“We have that Livestock Care Board,” she said. “I think we need to allow them the chance to get their work done and see if we can’t get that up and going. And we need to make it friendlier for people to go into agriculture, not make it harder. They have so many regulations these days and it seems like they are always fighting somebody.”
Ruhl said she is on the Transportation Committee and she is concerned about laws regulating the moving of farm equipment on public highways.
Ryerson, a Gambier resident, is originally from the Chicago area and went to Kenyon College. He received a graduate degree in journalism and worked in fundraising and development for Kenyon. He was a member of Gambier Village Council from 2001 to 2004. He was president of council for the last two years. He graduated from OSU law school and has been a sole practitioner of law for 20 years.
Jobs and the economy are his top issues and he emphasized he wants to take a big-picture look at these problems.
“We need to take a long-term view on jobs,” he said. “I want to focus on sustainability in jobs, jobs that will stay around for a while. We need to build on the strengths of the area, that being availability of land, of water, of our natural resources.
“And we need to build on the strengths of existing businesses and industries, especially in the area of energy. There is no reason we can’t be leaders in the areas of solar and wind technology. We have three industries in the energy area, Ariel, Rolls-Royce and Jeld-Wen.”
Ryerson also feels the colleges and universities could be an important resource.
“We can use some of their brain power to help us put together proposals to entrepreneurs and companies to come and look at our county to come and settle here permanently.
“The other thing I think a state representative can do, and should do, is be an advocate for the district, and if necessary, get on a plane and talk to venture capitalists and put together proposals to sell the district.”
Ryerson said the district also needs to keep a reasonable balance between development and agriculture. He said agriculture is probably the biggest industry in the county and it needs to be sustained, while conceding controlled development is necessary.
The state budget is also a concern of Ryerson’s.
“The state has an $8 billion hole over the next two years and the budget must be balanced by law.
“I want to look at what are tax expenditure items in the budget,” he said. “There have been exemptions from state taxation and those rarely get re-examined. We need to look at those to make sure they are still fulfilling their function. We need to raise revenue without raising taxes more than we need to. This is one way to look at raising revenue without raising personal taxes.”