MOUNT VERNON — Four individuals, including three Republicans, are vying for the Ohio Senate seat which will be vacated by Bill Harris at the end of this term.
Thom Collier, Kris Jordan and Lou Petros will battle it out in May to be the Republican candidate for the 19th District state senate seat. Neil Patel is the lone Democrat on the ballot and will face the winner of the Republican primary in November.
Both Collier and Petros are from Mount Vernon, while Jordan is from Delaware. The 19th District includes Knox, Morrow, Delaware, Richland and part of Ashland County.
Collier is a self-employed businessman and former state representative, serving eight years in the Ohio House.
“We need to turn Ohio around. We’re in a very difficult economy with a very difficult budget and we need to turn Ohio around,” Collier said. “We need to create a better business environment. We need to make it enticing for businesses to grow and expand here.”
With his 25-plus years of business experience and eight years of legislative experience, Collier feels that is an advantage in this race.
“It helps in a great way. I already know the current Senate members, have worked with them and the House members. I have a good track record of working with my fellow legislators to get things done.
“With more than 25 years of small-business experience, I’ve seen what happens without good leadership. ... People without a business background tend to introduce legislation that hinders the economic development of the state. They may mean well and are real interested, but they make poor decisions that adversely affect the economy.”
While in the Ohio House, Collier chaired the Economic Development Committee and was a member of several other committees, including agriculture, financial institutions, state and local government, and ways and means, among others. He was twice named a Watchdog of the Treasury and won several legislative awards.
Collier has spent a good deal of time getting to know the constituents of the 19th District, traveling all around the five counties and meeting many of the 75,000 registered Republicans.
“I have no reason to be anything but optimistic. We’re raising money and having a good time,” he said. “I’m the only candidate in the race with both small-business and elective experience, so I can hit the ground running. I can be effective from day one. Nobody has more experience and that’s what people want their representative to have.
“People have asked me why I’m running with the budget so tight. This provides an opportunity for our state government to do something it hasn’t done before. We’re going to face a $7 to $8 billion deficit in the next budget. It offers an opportunity to address the issue in ways we have not done before.”
Petros brings to the table many years of business experience, as he worked for both First-Knox National Bank and Peoples Bank. He’s also been the Knox County Republican Chairman for several years.
“I want to represent the people of this district and, along with that, I think I’ve got a feel for where people stand with a lot of their views,” said Petros.
The current economic state of Ohio concerns Petros, who feels he has some solutions for the problems.
“The biggest problem is the out-of-control spending of the federal government and the inability of the state government to live within its budget. I think the solution lies in the commitment of the issues,” Petros said. “Right now we’ve got two, three, four layers of government involvement in some of the issues. If we separate the community issues from the difficult government issues, we can eliminate a lot of excess government and bring the programs implemented under control. We need to cut the bureaucracy.”
Petros has spent a good portion of the last year attending functions, banquets and other events around the five-county area. He believes, that along with his financial background, his being a bit of an outsider to the political process is a major plus in this campaign.
“I think it helps me to a great degree because I’m not going to be an established representative that goes along with any individual, party or special interest group. I will represent the voters of this district,” Petros said. “We need to have someone who will stand up for the voters of this district. I think being the chairman of the party has given me probably a much better insight into the Republican Party and where the people stand.
“Because I’m not part of the establishment that put in place all the programs that are unsustainable, I am one of the people who will try to solve it.”
Jordan is a first-term representative from Delaware County. He served two terms as county commissioner and worked as a legislative aide.
“I’m running (for the Senate) because I think I can have more impact on state policy in the Senate than in my current position (state representative),” Jordan said. “I think a lot of things are desperate and we need to save the state. We’re the 47th best (in the nation) place to locate a business right now and that’s before we raised the income tax. ... We have a chance to get government out of the way of businesses and out of the way of the people. We need to get our regulations and our regulators out of the way of business.”
Jordan said he’s been a fighter for individuals and businesses since his days with the Delaware County Commissioners.
“In my two terms as county commissioner, I’ve fought within the party when they are trying to raise taxes and unbalance the budget. I’ve also fought at the legislative level when they are trying to raise taxes and unbalance the budget. And, I plan to fight the fight as long as the people of the district continue to elect me,” Jordan said.
Jordan said he is the first freshman representative in 200 years to be selected for a House leadership position, as he was selected as assistant minority whip. He has been a member of several committees, including financial institutions, real estate and securities, insurance and state government. He feels his time as a legislative aide helped prepare him for work as a state representative and as a possible state senator.
“I’ve worked there before, so I know my way around. I know the process of creating legislation. I’ve spent more time there than the others and spent more time on legislation. There’s nothing like seeing it at the ground level to really know how things work,” Jordan said. “One of the reasons I was selected a house leader was because I knew the legislative process and knew my way around the statehouse.
“One thing people will find out about me is if I fight on something based on principles, I will fight to the end. ... I will not be outworked in the statehouse. I have a 100 percent voting record and will vote against tax increases.”