A 2011 Highland High School graduate is challenging Brunswick native Steve Hambley for the 69th District seat in the Ohio House of Representatives.
Frank Zona, 23, a Democrat from Hinckley Township, said he looks to “strengthen our sense of community” and “represent real people.”
“I want to provide proactive leadership that is taking the latest, cost-effective solutions and making sure we are integrating them so that we are respecting use of tax dollars,” Zona said.
One issue that strikes Zona, he said, is the use of tax dollars that affect the community and the school districts. Zona said $2.3 million of Medina County taxes for local schools is redirected to for-profit charter schools.
Republican Hambley, 62, is wrapping up his first term in the House. Aside from the 58,000 miles on his car, Hambley said with a laugh, he is proud of his accomplishments over the past 22 months.
The House has seen the introduction of 600 bills with another 350 in the Senate, he said. Of those numbers, 179 House bills and 40 Senate bills were passed.
“I’ve been the primary sponsor of 11 bills and co-sponsor of over 120 bills,” Hambley said.
The 69th District covers the majority of Medina County, including the cities of Medina, Brunswick and Wadsworth.
School, community focus
Zona said he believes the “sense of community” starts with local school systems.
“I think it’s an unfair burden for the taxpayers to cover the bill for private institutions that are not regulated or held to the same standards our public and local schools are,” Zona said, referring to charter schools.
“So much of what we do as a community, from Friday night football games to developing programs and opportunities, is dependent upon that platform provided by local schools,” Zona said.
Hambley said he has helped increase state aid for primary and secondary education by $850 million.
“My relentless support for our local public schools and the additional reforms of the charter school system will be among my highest priorities,” Hambley said.
The Charter School Reform Bill passed October 2015 to help students who attend charter schools will continue to have access to educational options and a high-quality learning experience.
“It focuses on transparency, responsibility and accountability for (Ohio’s) charter schools,” Hambley said.
The heroin epidemic is another issue that Zona said motivated him to run for office.
According to the Ohio Department of Health, unintentional drug overdoses are the leading cause of deaths as of 2015 in Ohio, ahead of motor vehicle accidents. Zona said he believes there is a way to try to combat the crisis, starting with offering people the support they need.
“If you want to turn drugs in, seek treatment (and) turn your life around, you should be able to,” Zona said. “I know that there’s a lot we can do in dealing with this issue here at home. It’s time to support them.”
Both candidates said they believe first responders need to be provided with effective resources to help communities and families fight the drug problem.
Hambley said he has been part of an effort to cut taxes for Ohio small business owners and families by $1.2 billion. One of the efforts was introducing a three-day retail sales tax holiday in August during the back-to-school season in which the purchases of certain school supplies were exempt from sales tax.
“I want to continue working in the Republican majority to reduce state tax burdens on families and businesses,” Hambley said.
An example of that, he said, was the state’s decision to pay off debt owed to the federal government for unemployment compensation. That move was reported to have saved Ohio employers about $400 million.
Hambley said he and other state Republicans also have been leaders in rebuilding the state’s Budget Stabilization Fund, also known as the state’s rainy day savings account.
Zona said he has worked in his family’s business, Zona Properties, as a manager for five years. He began working at the Medina County Board of Elections at age 17 as a poll worker and became a voter-machine technician and precinct worker.
Zona has a degree from Baldwin Wallace University in neuroscience and psychology with a minor in history. He works as a neuroscientist in Baldwin Wallace’s neuroscience research program.
“I think the greatest impact I can have in pushing the ball forward (as a representative) is the understanding of science and how that research is applied to our common goals,” Zona said.
Zona, of Hinckley, is an active Eagle Scout and was a Navy Sea Cadet in the Navy youth program. He is the son of Cheryl and Anthony Zona and a brother to Sarah and Noah.
Prior to being elected to the Statehouse, Hambley served as a Medina County commissioner for 18 years. He’s also been a Brunswick at-large councilman and Ward 1 councilman.
Hambley worked as an adjunct professor at Lorain County Community College for almost 20 years and was a research staff member at the Center for Urban Studies at the University of Akron for six years.
The lifelong resident of Medina County resides in Brunswick with his wife, Cheryl.
His stepson Josh, who was honorably discharged from the Marine Corps in 2013, lives in Medina with his wife, Ericka.
Hambley attended St. Ambrose Catholic Church in Brunswick and is a 1972 Brunswick High School graduate. He holds a bachelor’s degree in general studies from Kent State University and received a master’s and doctorate from the University of Akron.
Contact reporter Halee Heironimus at (330) 721-4012 or email@example.com.