WAPAKONETA — Republicans in Auglaize County officially opened its campaign headquarters Wednesday evening. And the candidates on hand for the event, voiced their opinions against Issue 1.
On hand for the opening were Rep. Craig S. Riedel, R-Defiance, 82nd District; Sen. Rob McColley, R-Napoleon, 1st District; Sen. Matt Huffman, R-Lima, 12th District; and Susan Manchester, of Waynesfield, who is seeking the 84th District House seat currently held by Keith Faber. Riedel and McColley are seeking re-election in November.
“Auglaize County matter in the 2018 election,” said Manchester. “We have to have a strong Republican showing so we can help offset the counties that are far to the left.”
Huffman told those gathered that he has no opposition on the ballot in November.
“We have to have a strong presence in all 88 counties,” said Huffman. “The Democrats don’t do that.”
McColley is the “new” guy in town. He was appointed to the senate seat in December 2017 following Cliff Hite’s resignation.
“I’m here to hold up the values of the Republican Party and to help our reputation be built up.”
McColley said Mike DeWine, who is running for governor, is fighting for “things we hold dear.”
The candidates discussed Issue 1, which is a drug and criminal justice policies initiative. If approved it would become a constitutional amendment in the state. The issue was designed to reduce the number of people in state prisons who have been found guilty of nonviolent crimes such as drug possession and probation violations.
The issue calls for changing drug possession from a felony to a misdemeanor.
“We’re looking at the possibility of a person with fentanyl, which could kill 10,000 people,” only facing a misdemeanor, said McColley.
Riedel said he serves a “great part of Ohio.”
“The further south I drive (in the district), the more conservative it becomes,” he said. “My wife and I have been taken into by this community. We have felt so welcomed. It’s the way you are. You treat people with respect.”
Riedel also weighed in on Issue 1.
“On our way down on Wapak Road, on the radio there was an ad supporting Issue 1,” he said. “They have a tone of money to support it. Most of the money is coming from out-of-state,” he said. “Those people think they know what’s better for us than we do.
“They are imposing their way of life onto us,” Riedel continued. ” During the next five weeks, we’re going to be overwhelmed to radio and television commercials. We need to have a grassroots effort on our part to defeat Issue 1.”
Riedel said he has sent a letter to the editor to the newspapers in the communities he represents.
“If we’re not careful,” he said, “we’re going to get snookered. When you peel back the issue, you learn it’s not good.”
He said he’s heard $20 million is being used to get Issue 1 passed in Ohio.
“That’s an enormous sum of money,” he said. “and it’s going to be used to trick people. It sounds like a great thing and they will tug at your heart.”
But, he said, it wouldn’t beneficial to the residents of Ohio.
“Both parties need to band together to fight it,” he said.
Riedel, who is opposed in the November election, said he is working hard to get re-elected.
“I have some great help,” he said of his campaign volunteers.”I am honored to represent this part of the county.”
Riedel represents all of Defiance, Paulding and Van Wert counties and the cities of Wapakoneta and St. Marys in Auglaize County.
The campaign headquarters is located in the former Curves location in the Grandview Plaza on Defiance Street. It will be open Monday to Friday from 3 to 7 p.m. and on Saturdays from noon to 3 p.m.
Reach the writer at 937-538-4822.