MEDINA — The race for state representative in the 69th Congressional District appears to be lopsided on the surface.
The incumbent has been in office for two terms, is a household name in Medina County and was a county commissioner for 18 years.
His opponent is a first-time candidate, who is running on the platform that it’s time for a change.
That sums up the race between Steve Hambley, R-Brunswick, and political newcomer Carol Brenstuhl, a Democrat.
“I don’t think I’m a big underdog,” Brenstuhl said. “Let’s face it; it’s been years since a Democrat has had this position. It goes back years, probably 20 or 30 years. It’s always been Republican. It’s an uphill battle. I think it’s necessary, though. We need a change. We need to see more women, too.”
William Batchelder and Chuck Calvert, both Republicans, preceded Hambley in the 69th District, which encompasses most of Medina County.
Both candidates spoke Thursday morning at the Medina Breakfast Kiwanis Club’s candidates forum at Cleveland Clinic Medina Hospital.
Brenstuhl, 63, said she moved to Montville Township about 20 years ago. Hambley, 64, said he could top that.
“I’ve only lived in Medina County a mere 64 years,” he said. “My parents smuggled me into Medina from Cuyahoga County when I was 2 months old. We didn’t need passports back then. We got in, and I’ve stayed ever since. I love Medina County and have served to the best of my ability.”
Hambley brought his legislative scorecard with him to the forum.
“I’ve introduced 18 bills,” he said. “Ten are now laws.”
He said most of the ideas for the bills came from constituents.
“Most had issues that were presented to me that we’ve been able to address successfully,” Hambley said. “Other successes, by and large, have come through other amendments and bills. It’s not all about myself. It’s about a team.”
Hambley said state Rep. Darrell Kick, R-Loudonville, and Senate President Larry Obhof, R-Montville Township, have worked together on several projects and have gotten the job done for Medina County and its constituents. One example Hambley gave was House Bill 111, which allows MetroHealth System to expand outside its Cuyahoga County borders and gives it the ability to open facilities in other counties, including Medina County, which local leaders are pushing to see happen since the county has been without a birthing unit. Cleveland Clinic decided to close the maternity ward at Medina Hospital last year.
Hambley said Obhof spearheaded $3 million in capital improvement funds for Medina County, but did not do the work alone.
“That came about through teamwork with myself, Darrell Kick and Senator Obhof,” Hambley said.
He said the House of Representatives also helped cut taxes, create 500,000 new jobs in Ohio and tried to deal with the opiate epidemic.
Brenstuhl is a tax accountant formerly with PricewaterhouseCoopers, and now with Carter Lumber.
“I appreciate everything about Medina County,” she said. “It’s a growing community. We do need more guidance on how we do things. I’m so glad to see more recycling. When we first moved here, I couldn’t understand why we didn’t recycle back then.”
She added, “I’m looking forward to representing not just the Democrats, but all the people, all my constituents. I look to do more on environmental and veterans’ issues. I’m a veteran. I was in the Army National Guard in Pennsylvania. I’m a gun owner. I belong to Ducks Unlimited and the Turkey Federation. I’m into conservation. My dad was a hunter and a sportsman.”
Brenstuhl said she thinks Medina County is ready for change.
“Career politicians are not getting the job done,” she said.
Brenstuhl said her financial background would help her do the job.
She said if she’s elected, she would hold a monthly meeting with residents to allow them to vent on several subjects.
“I’m not taking money from special interest groups,” Brenstuhl said. “I think we have to clean up the dark money that is coming in (from lobbyists).
“I’m not here to get rich. I’m a public servant. We are here to serve you.”
Brenstuhl’s website is www.carol4ohio.com.
Hambley’s is www.stevehambley.com.