WADSWORTH — State and local candidates fielded a range of questions ranging from their views on Issue 1 to the role a county commissioner has regulating NEXUS during the 26th annual candidates forum at Wadsworth Public Library on Monday evening.
Library Director Daniel Slife served as the moderator, and explained the format the event would follow.
“Today’s program is a forum, it is not a debate,” Slife said. “It is an opportunity for the candidates to talk a little bit about themselves and then also offer you and opportunity to ask them questions …”
Following a two-minute introduction by each candidate, attendees were asked to write their questions down so they could be read by Slife and directed to the appropriate candidates.
Slife said questions were to be directed to the office itself, rather than individual candidates.
The first question of the evening asked the 9th District Court of Appeals candidates to weigh in on Issue 1, the statewide ballot issues aimed at reforming sentencing of drug crimes.
Diana Colavecchio was the first candidate to field the question, and said it was made clear to her during a conference with the Ohio Judicial Ethics Commission that it was not appropriate for judicial candidates to weigh-in on issues that could come before the court.
“I have stuck to that. I have been asked this question on the campaign trail ever since February and I have not answered it and I will not answer it tonight,” said Colavecchio who is running for Ninth District Court of Appeals.
But her opponent, Judge Jennifer Hensal, said the Board of Grievances and Ethics of the Ohio Supreme Court has issued advisory opinions stating that judges and judicial candidates are welcome to speak about Issue 1 publically.
“…To answer the question, I oppose Issue 1, I don’t believe it belongs in the Ohio Constitution, it is not a document to legislate criminal justice,” she said.
County commissioner candidates Carol Carter and Colleen Swedyk were each asked what they will, “specifically do to monitor and enforce NEXUS compliance with its permits and stewardship of the communities it will be operating the pipeline in.”
Carter said she does not believe NEXUS regulation is in the hands of the commissioners.
“They are here and it is dealing with them and I think it is more with the highway department and Trans Canada that are the go-to people when something goes wrong,” Carter said. “I am sure there are guidelines, but I am not real sure the commissioners have a say on those guidelines anymore. They gave that away when they signed the papers.
Swedyk agreed with Carter on the issue.
“Carol is absolutely right, NEXUS is not a county level authority,” she said. “The county commissioners do not have the authority of what is going on with the NEXUS pipeline, that is a federal issue.”
State Rep. Steve Hambley, R-Brunswick and his Democratic challenger for the 69th Congressional District, Carol Brenstuhl, were asked about abortion.
“I am unapologetically pro-life, I always have been and will continue to be so,” Hambley said. “I have a philosophical as well as a, I’ll say religious conviction that life begins at birth.”
Hambley said late wife Susan Hambley, who suffered from muscular dystrophy and used a wheelchair, taught him the benefit of life.
“I learned to treasure life so much that I believe that I don’t want to see life being thrown away,” he said.
Brenstuhl said she believes it is a woman’s choice to decide what to do regarding their own bodies.
“I am pro-choice but that does not mean that I am not pro-life,” Brenstuhl said. “Pro-choice means it is a woman’s right to decide what she does with her body and if there is a justified reason, that is her choice.”
Brenstuhl said if a woman decides to make that decision, it is between her and God and it is not her place to judge anyone.
A complete list of candidates that participated includes:
- 69th District candidate Carol Brenstuhl, Democrat;
- Medina County Domestic Relations Court candidate Heidi Carroll, Republican;
- Medina County Commissioner candidate Mayor Carol Carter of Seville, Democrat;
- 9th District Court of appeals candidate Diana Colavecchio, Democrat;
- 69th District State Rep. Steve Hambley, R-Brunswick;
- 9th District Court of Appeals Judge Jennifer Hensal, Republican;
- Medina County Domestic Relations Court Judge Mary Kovack, Democrat;
- Medina County commissioner candidate Colleen Swedyk, Republican;
- 16th Congressional District candidate; Susan Moran Palmer, Democrat