Editor's note: This story is featured in the Nov. 2 print edition of CityBeat.
In October, CityBeat sent questions to pairs of candidates in several key local and state elections.
Candidates in each race received the same series of questions, the same instructions for completing and returning their answers, and the same deadlines for publication. CityBeat began with known campaign or employment email addresses and followed up with private social media messages, phone calls and/or texts, depending on what was available.
Responses from the candidates are below and are in their own words (answers may have been lightly condensed for space). Not all candidates replied to CityBeat’s requests.
Democrat Joy Bennett and Republican Adam Mathews are vying to become the state representative for District 56, which includes Mason, Lebanon and most of Warren County. Bennett is a marketing and communications strategist, while Mathews is vice-mayor of Lebanon.
Joy Bennett - joyforohio.comWhat is the foremost issue affecting Ohio?
What I’m hearing from everyone as I canvas and meet voters in my district is the entrenched division in our politics and public discourse. People are sick of the name-calling, negativity and extreme positions from people who refuse to collaborate and compromise. Disagreement is critical for a healthy democracy, and we must protect this freedom as we relearn how to debate issues without attacking one another. Our elected leaders need [to] remember their job is finding solutions that work for all Ohioans, not just their party’s base.
What will you do differently or better than your opponent?
I believe that representing this district requires me to get to know the stories, dreams and needs of everyone who lives here, not just the people who are like me. We have a beautifully diverse community made of people from all over the world! The only way I can make good legislative decisions for my constituents is by seeking out their input and hearing their stories. This isn’t something I’ve seen or heard about from my opponent.
In what specific ways will you affirm and support LGBTQIA+ residents within your district and throughout Ohio?
The government’s role is to protect our equality and our unalienable rights, among which are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Those rights don’t change with a person’s gender, sexuality or any other distinguishing trait. I will vote to protect each person’s equal access to exercise their rights as human beings to live their lives, make their own decisions and love who they love.
What do you believe is the state’s role in individual healthcare decisions and access?
I believe our personal lives are just that — personal and private. Government’s role is to protect our equality as people and our ability to pursue unalienable rights. This means people are free to make decisions about their healthcare, including when and how to have a family, with the input and advice of their doctor and the advisors they choose. It means government stays out of our doctors’ offices and our bedrooms.
What is the first item on your to-do list if you were to take office?
Create a schedule where I visit all of the various constituent groups once per quarter if possible, once every six months at minimum. I’ll have a regular rotation visiting county, school district, township, village and city government meetings, along with neighborhoods, community groups and schools. We will list the main festivals, religious observances, fairs and other celebrations, and we’ll schedule town halls at regular intervals. I believe in being a true representative — available, responsive and visible.