Ratermann shares views on school security, opioid crisis

By Melanie Speicher - mspeicher@sidneydailynews.com

Editor’s note: In preparation for the May 8 Primary, the Sidney Daily News is profiling each candidate who is seeking the Republican nomination for the Ohio House of Representative’s 85th District. Each candidate was queried on topics which affect the residents of the district. Candidates profiled are Rochiel Foulk on April 4; Justin Griffis on April 5; Joe Ratermann on April 6; and Nino Vitalie on April 7.

SIDNEY — Joe Ratermann, 54, of Sidney, has strong ties in his hometown of Sidney. The candidate for the 85th District in the Ohio House of Representative, has served his country in the military and is a current member of the Sidney City Council.

A 1981 graduate of Lehman Catholic High School, Ratermann is a 1993 graduate of Wright State University, a 1997 graduate of George Mason University School of Law and a 2008 graduate of the Judge Advocate General’s School. In addition to serving on city council, he is an adjunct instructor at Edison Community College.

He is a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps and was a combat engineer and Marine Embassy Guard in Asia, Africa, Europe and the United States. He was in the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps and was a prosecutor in Korea; provided legal services and claims in the former Yugoslavia; was an instructor/trainer in Germany; was a Group Judge Advocate, 1st Special Forces Group; and, was Chief of Administrative Law in Afghanistan.

He was a civilian legal adviser to a Joint Special Operations Task Force in the Middle East. He is a summer seasonal park ranger with the U.S. National Park Service. He is a former high school teacher and taught government, history and world geography.

He is a membr of the Shelby County Drug Task Force, Sidney Rotary and is race director for several community orienteering races held at Tawawa Park in Sidney.

He has two children, Sophie, 14, and John, 10.

How should school security be addressed with the rising tide of gun incidents in public schools? Does the state have a role in this?

“School districts should be free of state control regarding security. School systems should be encouraged to hire employee resource (security) officers; aided in holding annual exercises with first responders; work out cooperative agreements with local law enforcement agencies; and, be permitted to train volunteer teachers to be armed in the building. Each school district should be free to create rules, policies and procedures which benefit the particular needs and philosophy of their own district, while keeping first responders fully aware of their plans and procedures.

”The state’s role in reducing gun incidents should include a common sense discussion regarding background checks for all gun sales within the sovereign borders of our state to ensure that only law abiding citizens are purchasing weapons.”

Do you think the current concerns of mayors and other local officials regarding the reductions to Local Government Funds are valid ones?

“The concerns of Local officials with respect to the State’s reduction of local government funding are certainly valid. Since the 2008 “Great Recession,” Ohio’s General Assembly has continued to increase the State’s budget, in fact, balancing their increased spending and funding the simultaneous tax cuts by cutting the traditional sources of revenue that have funded local government. E.g., the General Assembly has balanced the State budget by cutting revenue to every village, township, city and county in Ohio.

“Additionally, it is my strong belief that if the State is going to impose a mandate, the state should finance the implementation and execution of that rule. To provide our cities, counties, townships and villages with less money and simultaneously requiring those governmental entities to pay for additional unfunded mandates is, in the best light – foolhardy; and in the worst light – an abdication of their responsibilities to those whom they serve.”

What can lawmakers at the state level do to help combat the opioid crisis? Is this a problem of over-prescribing physicians or a problem with foreign-sourced contraband (fentanyl) from south of the border and from China? Do you favor using less-dangerous drugs in rehab settings to help wean addicts? And to what extent should the state government help fund any of this?

“I have been a member of the Shelby County Drug Task Force since its inception. Long before either the Governor or President declared an emergency — local leaders identified the need to address the opiate issue in a proactive, practical manner.

“Instead of pointing fingers at pharmaceutical companies; calling for more drug dogs at the U.S. border or blaming the expansion of ObamaCare, our Task Force identified how we, at the local level, may specifically have positive results in our community. For example, we helped initiate talks in local schools; educated parents; provided tools so that parents and children may bond at earlier ages; fostered events to create a greater sense of community; and integrated resources to both avoid replication of costs and diminish gaps in coverage. Officials at the State and Federal level have continually been late in reacting to the crisis.

“For example, at the local level, we have already identified that the opiate crisis is beginning to wane as methamphetamines and cocaine are beginning to re-emerge. The State should provide funding to assist local leaders to proactively address the situation and defer to local leaders whom have a ground level perspective of the problem. Too often, Columbus seems to believe that “one size fits all” when in fact, the situation in Shelby, Logan and Champaign County may be far different than the situation in Hamilton, Franklin, Cuyahoga, or Jackson counties.”

Do you favor completely outlawing surgical abortion access in Ohio? Why? What about access to pharmaceutical/chemical abortions?

“Roe v. Wade (a Constitutional right to abortion throughout the United States), Scott v. Sanford (declaration that African Americans cannot be U.S. citizens) and Plessy v. Ferguson (separate but equal) are three stains on our national moral character. The latter two Supreme Court cases have been rightfully and judiciously overturned.

“With advances in medical knowledge, an evolution in our societal norms regarding the previous negative stigma regarding “unwed mothers” and the gradual return to the utmost respect for the plain text of the Constitution, it is time for lawmakers to cease the emotional finger pointing and do the hard work to advance the “Pro-life” movement. For over 50 years, approximately 20-24 percent of Americans have been pure “Pro-Life;” 22-30 percent have been “Pro-Choice” under any circumstances; and approximately 50-60 percent have been generally in support of “Pro-Life” except in certain circumstances: e.g. rape, incest and the risk of life of the mother.

“After half a century, it is time that State Legislators, Conservatives and Liberals alike, instead of digging in their heels and getting nowhere, to finally remove the last stain on our nation’s moral character. I propose, as a legislator, that we first add to our Birth Certificates a: “date-of-conception” and/or a date of “first heart beat detected” recognizing the beginning of life. Second, comprehensive, in-depth hearings must be conducted with physicians, psychologists and sociologists to glean the scientific evidence – and then make findings of fact which would survive judicial review. Finally, we need legislators whom, instead of emotionally pointing fingers and remaining “unapologetic” about an inability to move legislation forward, can collaborate with colleagues in order to first conduct hearings, and then write legislation which will first pass the State Assembly; and then survive judicial scrutiny; and finally enable us to begin saving the lives as many young innocent human beings as we can.”

How can the state work with locals to retain college graduates in Ohio with new businesses, jobs and entertainment opportunities? And how do we attract people from outside Ohio to settle here to fill the vacancies at industries that currently go unfilled?

“To keep Ohioans in Ohio, we first need to ensure that we have a vibrant, pro-business economy. Such an economy would embrace innovation, entrepreneurship and reduce the bureaucratic red tape that stifles initiative. Second, all sectors in Ohio, excepting those attending the military academies, should award private and public scholarships only to those whom attend an Ohio college. Third, Ohioans already have one of the finest work ethics in the world – we want to keep our residents working in Ohio.

“Those that were born and raised here, and then attend institutions of higher learning in Ohio generally want to remain. Finally, people outside of Ohio will not relocate for the weather. If, however, we encourage and develop a culture of innovation and a vibrant pro-business climate, those that share our work ethic will want to relocate to Ohio and be in the heart of it all.”

Do you favor work requirements for able-bodied Medicaid recipients?

“I am in favor of community engagement activities for not only Medicaid recipients, but all recipients of government assistance. A well-designed program will not only promote better mental, physical, and emotional health for the recipient, but will also greatly benefit local communities.”

Do you support expanding Ohio’s renewable energy favorability to companies like wind and solar developers, or do you think such projects are an unnecessary threat to property values of nearby residents?

“Local communities and not the legislative body in Columbus are best able to decide what works best for their communities. For those whom believe that the federal and state government is too intrusive in their lives, this is an excellent issue to allow the market place to dictate the result – and not the General Assembly in Columbus, Ohio.

“That said, I support renewable energy. Renewable energy provides the opportunity to be proactive in preparing for the future. Wind and solar developers are preparing our state for long term economic sustainability as fossil fuel energy resources diminish and become increasingly expensive.”

What is your position on the latest redistricting proposal? Is it fair or unfair compared to the current system? Why or why not?

“The current legislative redistricting proposal is fair. As a current instructor/teacher of government and politics, I accept the fact that the liberal/conservative pendulum slowly sways back and forth, and that the losing party usually claim that redistricting is unfair. The current Ohio proposal has bipartisan support, and in the end the voters — whether by referendum, or by casting their ballot for individual candidates — will have the final say.”



By Melanie Speicher