Editor’s note: Each Republican candidate for 85th District state representative was invited by the Sidney Daily News and the Urbana Daily Citizen to participate in a survey. The candidates are Tim Barhorst, Rochiel Foulk and Lilli Vitale. The surveys are being published in a series of articles in the alphabetical order of last name. No Democrats filed for the Primary election, which will be held on Aug. 2.
Name: Lilli Johnson Vitale
Biography: Lilli Johnson Vitale was born and raised in Champaign County and brings over 14 years of business experience from both Fortune 500 companies, and her family manufacturing business, Johnson Welded Products, in Urbana. Vitale received a B.S. in Finance and Marketing from Ohio State University where she was also a five-year member and squad leader in The OSU Marching Band. She studied psychology at the master’s level at the University of Dayton, and has 18 years of extensive K-12 education experience. Lilli counts among her biggest blessings her husband of 24 years, Nino Vitale, and their five boys.
Question 1.) Should Ohio spend more to arm and train teachers and school staff to secure its public schools from random gun violence?
Decisions as whether to arm teachers and how best to train them should be decided at the local level. I trust parents, teachers, local school board, and taxpayers to make the decision they think is best for their communities. It is horrific that these types of shootings are occurring in our classrooms. Therefore, I think a comprehensive look at how schools are secured is needed, along with trained security personnel. We already have a few armed schools in our area, which was the solution those local communities decided was best for them. These local decisions are what I support.
Question 2.) What should Ohio do to attract and retain more working-age adults to the state with crucial skills (electricians, mechanics, plumbers, etc.)?
WalletHub recently did a study ranking Ohio one of the worst states in the nation for high taxes. Most taxpayers believe their tax dollars are not being well-spent, especially during the COVID-19 era with all the fraud that occurred. Ohio ranked 43rd lowest with a household tax rate of 13.18%, which is $8,329 per year in taxes. The private sector flourishes when government is smaller, and people can keep more of their paycheck. But we also need to tell our high school students, that not everyone needs a college education and there are other well-paying fields like the trades.
Question 3.) Do you think the taxation rates in Ohio are in line with similar states for middle class, working families? If not, how would you fix this?
As mentioned in the question above, in a recent WalletHub study, Ohio is one of the worst states in the nation (ranked 43rd), with the highest tax rates. At almost $9,000 per family, that number could be cut in half when we stop passing these big, bloated budgets with tax payer funded giveaways for all sorts of projects that the citizens have not even asked for. The cronyism needs to stop, and government should look for ways to shrink and get out of the way so regulation and taxes can be reduced.
Question 4.) Where do renewables (nuclear, solar, wind, etc.) fit into the future of Ohio’s energy supply?
We need to focus on making our energy less expensive and more reliable. We have had massive shutdowns of our coal plants along the Ohio River. Most of those plants spent millions on technology to be clean burning but it was not good enough for the green energy advocates. Ohio needs to focus on reliable energy like nuclear, which produces electricity over 90% of the time, and natural gas, which is in abundance in Eastern Ohio in our underground shales. Solar is not efficient and if you haven’t noticed, the sun produces no energy for 50% of the day.
Question 5.) With the decision from the U.S. Supreme Court on Roe v. Wade this summer, what are your feelings? What should the state of Ohio do to ensure a woman’s right of choice?
I am the only candidate who has been active in the pro-life movement for over 20 years in this area. One of the other candidates moved to this district very recently and ran for state rep in the Columbus area just a few years ago. As a mother of five boys, who has also fostered children in my home, I am pro-life in all sorts of ways. We support our pregnancy centers and have stood for life in many parades, prayer chains, and fundraisers. But most importantly, I believe Ohioans’ rights starts at conception to natural death, period.
Question 6.) The skyrocketing price of fuel is affecting both the worker and the person wanting to go on vacation. Should the state of Ohio put a pause on gas taxes until the prices go down?
Skyrocketing prices of fuel are primarily caused by horrible policies from our federal government. Shutting down pipelines and not allowing growth of refineries is the primary cause. The current Ohio gas tax is 38.5 cents while gas has gone up over $2 a gallon. While our gas tax may be a bit high, we also don’t want roads falling apart and causing damage to our vehicles or accidents. The real key is pushing back on the federal government. Washington’s policies are harming Ohioans. It was just two years ago that gas was as low as $1.99, until Biden took over.
Question 7.) School districts are facing a shortage of teachers, bus drivers and other staff members to help educate Ohio’s children. What do you think should be done to get more employees for the districts?
Employers are having problems finding employees in all sectors, not just schools. The first answer should be to stop the gravy train of free money that incentivizes people to not work. It’s Biblical that if you don’t work, you don’t eat. While we certainly don’t want people starving, there are help wanted signs out at almost every business and factory I see. We need to end the endless social programs that pay for everything with no end date and put limits on these programs as there are plenty of jobs available. Let’s end the socialism and get to work.