Agriculture strong: Heilers seeks Republican nomination

By Melanie Speicher -



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 84th District. Each candidate was queried on topics which affect the residents of the district. Travis Faber was profiled April 11, Aaron Heilers on April 12, and Susan Manchester on April 13.

ANNA — Aaron Heilers, 33, 11405 State Route 119, Anna, has been involved with agriculture his entire life and hopes that will help him get the Republican nod in the May Primary for the 84th District House of Representative’s seat.

A 2002 graduate of Houston High School, Heilers graduated from The Ohio State University in 2006 with a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture

He is the project manager of the Blanchard River Demonstration Farms Network, which is a state wide initiative that showcases innovative conservation practices that farmers can implement to make a positive impact on the water quality in the state.

Prior to his role with the Demonstration Farms, he worked for eight years in Soil and Water Conservation Districts with Auglaize and Miami counties working with producers on nutrient and drainage management. I am also a certified nutrient management planner and work with producers from around the state to develop plans for their operation to properly management their nutrients.

”I believe it is crucial that a representative have a connectedness to the community he or she wants to represent,” said Heilers. “For over a decade I have been involved in many community organizations. I started as a volunteer board member with the Shelby County Farm Bureau. I eventually became county president for three years. I currently am on the Shelby County Fairboard, a Parish Council member for Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church in McCartyville and treasurer of the Shelby County Republican Party Central Committee.”

Heilers and his wife, Sarah, are the parents of three sons.

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

“My wife is a teacher and I have young children who are getting ready to enter into the school system so this is an issue that I think about on a daily basis. It is very unfortunate that we have reached a point where this is something we have to be worried about. I believe the issue of school security should be left to local school officials and local law enforcement. Like most issues, the state has a responsibility to work with local officials to make sure they have the resources to get their job done. The local sheriff and city police know best the needs of their community. Much like here in Shelby County, Sheriff Lenhart works with each school district to provide as much or as little assistance as requested. This could be providing a deputy or resource officer to be in the school or could be working with staff to become trained on carrying or having access to a gun while on school grounds.

“Looking at this issue from a much higher level though, we need to look at the root cause of why individuals feel compelled to do such acts. As a society, we need to do a better job at helping those kids who are falling through the cracks. This can’t be a job for school officials alone. There are kids who are isolated at school, who have a non-existent home life and have no one to turn to for help. Community members need to be able to reach these kids. If we can focus on that within our own school district, we can prevent the next child from feeling like they need to take a weapon to school and harm innocent people.”

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

“Absolutely, they are valid concerns. I believe that problems are best solved at the local level, whether by local governments, school boards, churches or in your own home. The relationship between local governments and state government is supposed to be a partnership, but for the last 6 years local officials have been told what to do without the financial resources to be able to implement those tasks. To make it worse, state government continues to grow while LGFs are being cut or held static. Ideally, we will work towards the funding levels that are appropriate for local governments to function properly and implement mechanisms that allow for shared gains when economic times are good and shared sacrifices when times are bad.”

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?

“Certainly there are steps that can be taken or have been taken already to combat certain aspects of the opioid crisis. Eliminating pill mills or cracking down on pharmaceutical companies who took part in exploiting the public are just a few. Punishing those who are distributing fentanyl or carfentanil to the fullest extent possible is also something that can be done. The State also has an obligation to partner with local governments and law enforcement to make sure communities have the financial resources for treatment centers. I will leave the decision on the best course of treatment to the experts who deal with this issue on a daily basis.

“Unfortunately, government is not going to be able to solve this problem with laws and money. Our society needs to look at itself in the mirror and ask ourselves why people continue to fall into this pit of addiction, even when they see the terrible consequences. I think, in general, people have isolated themselves. We need 4 things in our life: faith, family, community and meaningful work. We have withdrawn from faith and community and the family structure is crumbling. We also have made it too easy for people to not participate in meaningful work. All of these factors contribute to people feeling the need to turn to alternative forms to hide their pain. That’s not something government can or should solve alone.”

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

“As a father of three young boys, I have witnessed life begin at conception and grow through birth. I am 100 percent pro-life and believe life begins at conception. This means that I am against any type of abortion. If you believe in the sanctity of life, then the method of abortion makes no difference. You are still taking an innocent life. I will actively work to make abortion against the law here in Ohio.”

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?

“First, I believe we need to have a fundamental shift in our way of thinking towards college. College education is important but shouldn’t be the only outcome we gear our kids to. Our community is filled with tremendous job opportunities. We should be focusing on preparing our kids for the jobs that are available today right here in the 84th. If we don’t do this, the businesses and jobs will disappear from this region.

“Second, I believe west central Ohio should be a model for the rest of the State. We should be promoting our community and family values. We should be promoting how our local officials manage our government. We should be promoting our outstanding schools. I also think revitalizing our downtowns will go a long way in attracting people to come or stay in our area. The younger generation likes different types of housing and entertainment options that are within walking distance much like they can get in the bigger cities. Focusing our efforts to ensure entrepreneurs feel like our towns are thriving places to run their businesses will be key to our success.”

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

“Yes, I do favor work requirements for able-bodied Medicaid recipients. Unfortunately, in our society we have removed the incentive to work. I hear this all across the district from business owners who cannot find workers. Potential employees tell employers that they cannot accept the job because they may lose their government benefits. That is a major problem and has a ripple effect across society. When people do not work, their children or grandchildren see that. This can lead to an acceptance that it is alright to not contribute to society. Having meaningful work is also a pillar of having a purpose in life. Without it, people are more susceptible to fall into drug use and be a continued drain on society.”

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?

“I believe Ohio should have a diversified energy portfolio that includes coal and nuclear as well as cost effective renewable technologies. We should make the playing field level and let the free market determine which technology will work best in Ohio and provide consistent, low cost energy. The siting of any type of energy project should take into account the effect on nearby residents. The Ohio Power Siting Board currently has a process in place that looks at many different variables with a potential project including the impact on the community. We need to ensure that process continues to include robust involvement from local officials so that the concerns of neighboring residents are heard.”

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

“The process of gerrymandering, drawing district lines to favor the party in power, has been around since our country was founded. Unfortunately, our district boundaries have become almost laughable in their shapes. On May 8th, Issue 1 will be on the ballot that proposes to add an amendment to Ohio’s Constitution to draw more representative congressional districts. I believe it is a step in the right direction. The reality is that those in the minority will never be happy with the process and will think it’s unfair because it will still be a political process. Hopefully, this process can make everyone feel like their voice is truly being recognized and will eliminate a district snaking across the state, cutting counties or communities in half or thirds.”


By Melanie Speicher

Reach the writer at 937-538-4822.

Reach the writer at 937-538-4822.