For the second time in two years, Republicans Steve Hambley and Chris M. Sawicki will square off for the 69th District seat in the Ohio House.
Sawicki is hoping this time around voters know who he is.
Name recognition isn’t a problem for Hambley, of Brunswick. He’s been in office since Jan. 1, 2015. He defeated Sawicki in the May 2014 primary election and will face him again in the Republican primary on March 15.
“I’m a known quantity,” Hambley said. “My opponent ran for the state school board, county commissioner and state representative. He ran on same platform. He wants to be a politician. He wants to challenge every way he can. I’ll point to my record and my principles.”
The winner of the Republican primary will face Democrat Frank A. Zona in the November election.
Sawicki, 35, labels Hambley a “career politician.”
“I take offense to that,” Hambley said. “I’m a public servant. I’m a retired college professor.”
He said it took him 21 years to finish schooling after graduating from Brunswick High School in 1972. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Akron in 1993.
Hambley served as a Medina County commissioner for 18 years. He was also on Brunswick City Council for five years. When William Batchelder retired in 2014, Hambley was elected to replace him in the Ohio House. The 69th District includes most of Medina County.
Hambley, a lifelong resident of Medina County, lives in Brunswick with wife, Cheryl. His stepson, Josh, who was honorably discharged from the Marine Corps in 2013, lives in Medina with his wife, Ericka.
Sawicki, who owns ACE Home Services in Medina, said he learned several lessons from losing the 2014 election.
“That was my first campaign,” Sawicki said. “I didn’t know what the heck I was doing. I was on my own last time. I have a good, solid committee of volunteers this time.
“I have a good, strong conservative message. I’m someone who would be facing the issues instead of someone who has been in politics for 25 years.”
The Medina resident said anyone who has been in politics that long is “out of touch about what’s going on.”
Sawicki said he’s been getting positive feedback from potential voters.
He said he’s out meeting and greeting as many people as possible after work. He’s also interacting with voters on social media.
“When we did it in 2014, no one knew anything about me,” Sawicki said. “I’m trying to combat that this time around. There’s a lot more interest than there was two years ago. I’m spending every waking moment trying to spread my message.
“I’m not making politics a career. People want to see action. I want to represent the people.”
He said many people he’s talked to wants Common Core out of schools.
“Parents don’t like it,” he said. “Parents want it gone.”
He said people are pushing for voters to be required to show photo identification to poll workers.
“There’s quite a movement for it,” Sawicki said. “(Poll workers) ask for it, but it’s not a requirement. Voter fraud has gone up. It’s a growing problem. There’s nothing more important than the integrity of the vote. You need a photo ID to get a carpet cleaner at Mark’s,” but not to vote?
He said the fact he’s never held public office gives him “a unique perspective.”
“I started my business when I was 18 and just getting out of high school. I succeeded when everyone said I was destined to fail. I was told, ‘You don’t know how to run a campaign.’ I proved them wrong 18 years ago. I’ll prove them wrong again.”
Sawicki and wife, April, have two daughters, Evelynn and Sylvia.
In the 2014 primary, Hambley received 61 percent of the vote and Sawicki got 39 percent.
Hambley said he thinks his campaign is going well.
“You never know until the results come in,” he said. “This is not the first time I’ve run for office. I’ll stick with some of the things we’ve done well. You hope people pay attention. It helps to have been here.
“At this point, I know there are people voting against incumbents. Just see what I’ve accomplished.”
He said he’s proud of the fact that income taxes have decreased by $1.2 billion since he’s been in office.
Hambley said collaboration is vitally important in Columbus.
“As Sen. (Larry) Obhof has said, ‘It’s not about hitting home runs. It’s about getting a lot of singles and doubles,’” he said. “It’s about a bill here and a bill there and working with other legislators.”
He said he wants to help improve the business climate and provide more flexibility to local government and school districts.
“More needs to be done to reform the charter school system,” Hambley said.
He said he’s been asked, “Why didn’t you get more done?”
“I’ve been there a year and three months,” he said. “We do what we can. We’ll continue to address it. There’s a learning curve.”
He said when he’s done being a state representative, he’d like to go back to teaching.
“Teaching in college was my first dream job,” Hambley said. “Being in the House was my second dream job. I’ve learned more about state government than I thought I’d ever know.”