MEDINA — Ken Harbaugh, Democrat candidate for Congress in Ohio’s 7th district, said he is not someone who will vote strictly along party lines.
He’s running against Republican Bob Gibbs on the platform of “country over party.”
“It’s not about party,” he said. “These party-line votes are by definition, and not representative. Think about the people you really work for.”
Harbaugh was one of 13 candidates for the Nov. 6 election who spoke Tuesday during the Greater Medina Chamber of Commerce’s candidates forum at Williams on the Lake. With a time limit of just three minutes each, the candidates spoke to a roomful of business and community leaders.
Here is a look at the candidates in the 7th district. Additional stories highlighting contested state and local races will appear later this week and month as a part of the Medina Gazette’s ongoing election coverage.
The 7th district includes Ashland, Coshocton, Holmes and Knox counties, as well as parts of Huron, Lorain, Medina, Richland, Stark and Tuscarawas counties. As such, the candidates’ stop in Medina County is just one of many in the run-up to the general election.
Harbaugh was not alone in efforts to get out the word. Gibbs also appeared before the business community with reasons why he should win re-election.
“We’re making progress,” Gibbs said. “We’re on the right track. Let’s make sure we stay on that track.”
Tuesday, he said he wants a better economy, which will create a brighter future. If the economy thrives, that will create more jobs.
The incumbent Gibbs said he has helped cut taxes for families so they could keep more of their paychecks and helped double the child tax credit to help them raise their children.
He earned a seat in the Ohio House of Representatives in 2002 and moved to the Ohio Senate in 2008. Gibbs has been in Congress since 2010.
Gibbs said he wants to rebuild the military, take care of veterans, get a handle on the opioid epidemic and secure the U.S. border.
“We’re seeing some good things happen,” Gibbs said. “We are seeing consumer confidence. We’re seeing a 3-percent increase in wages from a year ago.”
Harbaugh, married to Medina native Annmarie Kelly, said he never thought he’d be running for Congress. The former Navy pilot said it’s about service above self.
“Politics never entered the picture,” he said.
Harbaugh said he’s tired of politicians not getting anything done.
He repeated the first three words of the Constitution, “We the people.”
“That’s the engine that is going to get things done,” Harbaugh said. “That’s our hope and our future.”
He said he trains military veterans with Team Rubicon Global, an aid organization that has trained more than 45,000 military veterans to deploy to natural disasters in the U.S. and around the world.
“I guarantee when they are pulling people out of houses, they aren’t asking anybody who they are voting for,” he said. “They aren’t asking anybody their politics.”
Harbaugh said the country does not deserve a Congress that’s beholden to special interests and is too busy fighting to get anything done.
He said when his plane lost an engine he didn’t ask if his co-pilot was Republican or Democrat. He said they worked together to land the plane safely.
Harbaugh wants to hold down health care costs, protect Social Security and create good jobs. He wants to make prescription drug prices more affordable.
He said after he left the Navy he moved to Lorain County to start a family. His kids were baptized at St. Francis Xavier Church in Medina.
Others participants of the forum include
- Colleen Swedyk, R, and Carol Carter, D, running for county commissioner;
- state Rep. Steve Hambley, R-Brunswick, running for Ohio House District 69 against Carol Brenstuhl, D-Medina, who was not in attendance;
- Democrat Steve Johnson and Rep. Darrell Kick, R-Loudonville, running for Ohio House District 70;
- Democrat Diana Colavecchio and Judge Jennifer Hensal, Republican, candidates for the 9th District Court of Appeals;
- Democrat Susan Moran Palmer and Republican Anthony Gonzalez, running for Congress in Ohio’s 16th district;
- and Heidi Carroll, R, and Judge Mary Kovack, D, candidates in the Medina County Domestic Relations Court.