Democratic Congressional incumbent Tim Ryan is being challenged by Boardman resident John Luchansky this primary election for Ohio’s 13th District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, which encompasses Kent and Ravenna, the Youngstown area and eastern Summit County.
Luchansky, 60, said his campaign platform is simple in that if he is elected, he wants to launch a Congressional probe into the shooting of Doug Jones Jr.
“(Jones) was shot to death by a Poland Village police officer on June 6, 1996. The case never went to the grand jury, and I believe that the young man was murdered and that this shooting was covered up, so that’s my primary interest in running for Congress,” Luchansky said.
Ryan, 41, has served in Congress since 2003, first in the 17th District before it was eliminated by redistricting after the 2010 census, and the 13th District as of January 2013.
He said he’s seeking reelection to build on his accomplishments during the past 12 years such as the Kent Central Gateway Project, advocate for university research and development funds, seek public investments in infrastructure, boost manufacturing resurgence and reform agricultural policies and nutritional education to help people become healthier and keep healthcare costs down.
“We’ve got to not continue to subsidize cheap crops that end up getting turned into really unhealthy processed food that we continue to eat in the United States and it’s making us sick,” Ryan said. “We’ve got to stop and we need some help from federal policies to make healthier food more affordable for average families.”
Here’s how the candidates stand on national issues:
In order to combat the growing national debt, which now stands about $17 trillion, Luchansky said Congress should focus on cutting back foreign assistance and turning attention domestically.
Ryan said cuts to the defense budget can help scale back spending, growing the economy through investments in research and infrastructure, tax reforms seeking the top 1 percent of income earners to chip in more and agricultural reforms and nutrition education to help keep healthcare costs down will all impact national debt.
Both candidates said they would be in favor of raising the minimum wage to assist a struggling middle class.
Ryan said educational assistance such as Pell grants, shifting agricultural subsidies to small and regional farms, growth in manufacturing and expanding Medicaid in Ohio to cover minimum wage workers will all help middle class Americans.
Affordable Care Act
Luchansky, a Roman Catholic, said he is a pro-life Democrat opposed to the contraceptive mandate provision in Obamacare and abortion.
Ryan said he sees the Affordable Care Act benefiting average families, and that although some provisions may need to be tweaked, he doesn’t see anything being possible in the House currently, because of repeated GOP attempts to repeal the legislation in its entirety.
When it comes to government surveillance programs, such as those that the National Security Agency utilizes including the collection of phone and Internet data to search for possible terrorist threats, Luchansky said he sees conflicts with the Constitution and an invasion of privacy.
“I don’t like all the drone stuff, I don’t like all the phone tapping stuff. I think it’s a bit too invasive,” he said, adding that he would vote to scale back surveillance programs if elected.
Ryan said the U.S. needs to be extremely careful getting into the business of American’s phone conversations and Internet traffic, but said a system for sorting information and potential threats that respects due process rights needs to be in place to prevent threats.
“There are a lot of people who are trying to harm us in the United States and there’s an enormous amount of information that is flying through the country,” Ryan said. “We need some system in place to be able to address that and that’s really the balancing act, but I do not think any wire tap or anything should be put on without going to a third party, a court, the judicial branch, and getting the OK for it.”
Ryan said both the U.S. and Ohio need a “robust regulatory operation” to monitor the fracking and natural gas industry and ensure that the environment and drinking water are protected, but believes there is a huge opportunity for economic growth and to increase the country’s manufacturing base.
“There are risks to fracking, and we need to make sure that those risks are reduced to the absolute lowest level and that our water supply is protected and that our environment is protected,” he said.
Luchansky said he is completely against fracking and would vote for tighter regulatory laws or vote against the practice entirely if the opportunity arose.
“As far as fracking is concerned, I don’t think that’s a good idea,” he said, adding that he is in favor of solar energy and tighter restrictions on nuclear power plants to supply the country with energy.
As states continue to approve medical marijuana, in addition to legalized recreational use, Ryan said he doesn’t believe any movement in Washington, D.C. will occur, but he does support medical marijuana and is continuing to evaluate his stance on full legalization.
“We should not eliminate options for people who are dying of cancer or getting cancer treatments or are in a lot of pain if that can be helpful to them,” Ryan said, adding that he wants to make sure that as states move forward on new marijuana policies, people need to know that getting high doesn’t mean everything will be OK. “That is not a recipe for economic success of our country, personal success for individuals in the United States, and I just think we’ve got to be very careful of not to let the excitement of trying to legalize override the underlying theme that should be this is something that you need to be very careful with.”
Luchansky said he is in favor of full legalization in Ohio.
“I believe there’s a reason why marijuana is on this Earth. It’s a living thing, it’s a plant, so why are so many people against it? It’s got to be here for a reason and it’s created by God,” he said. “The war on drugs, I don’t think is working. Let’s legalize marijuana and concentrate on the harder stuff — heroin, cocaine, that sort of thing, but I think marijuana should be legalized.”
Student debt from loans is now second only to credit card debt in America.
Luchansky said he is in favor of programs to lower interest rates, make it easier for students to pay back loans and help with job placement assistance to ease the burden on graduating students.
Ryan said he favors Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s concept of loaning to students at the same rates the U.S. loans to banks.
“Why wouldn’t we offer that same opportunity for families to invest into themselves and into their kids. We have banks and we loan them money and give it to them low because they’re going to go out and invest it into the economy and I think we should offer that same thing for our kids,” Ryan said.
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