Election 2018: Smith, Foley battle in competitive state House district


The most competitive Ohio House race in the region this election cycle features a newly appointed lawmaker against a county commissioner.

Republican J. Todd Smith won the Republican primary for the 43rd state House seat in May and was appointed to the seat when former state Rep. Jeff Rezabek resigned to become a juvenile judge in Montgomery County.

Montgomery County Commissioner Dan Foley is the Democrat running. Democrats lost the seat in 2014 when former state Rep. Roland Winburn lost to Rezabek.

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The district on paper is the most competitively balanced district in the region, split almost 50-50 between Democrats and Republicans.

The district includes all or parts of Dayton, Trotwood, Jefferson Twp., Clayton, Brookville, Farmersville, Harrison Twp., Perry Twp. Jackson Twp. and all of Preble County.

Foley served as Montgomery County Clerk of Courts from 2000-2006 and has been county commissioner since 2007. Foley attended Chaminade Julienne High School, earned a bachelor’s degree at Bowling Green University before obtaining a master’s degree at Wright State University.

Smith has been a minister for 35 years and worked 10 years in construction of underground public utilities, and attended Cincinnati Christian University.

When it comes to the Ohio’s education system’s dependence on tests, both believe it’s a negative thing.

“While tests can be an important tool, the objective of education should be to prepare students for their future, not just prepare them for tests,” Smith said in the Dayton Daily News 2018 Election 2018 Voter Guide.

Foley says that the current education system punishes poor-performing school districts. He proposes that the means of fixing this problem is through “equitable funding,” something that he says is already court mandated.

Both candidates agree that increased funding for Pre-K schooling is needed.

“Pre-K provides an opportunity for children to be socialized with their peers, learn essential pre-learning skills, and can offer child-care for busy parents. We must absolutely look at ways to increase access to Pre-K for every child in Ohio, as we have done in Dayton and Montgomery County with our Preschool Promise,” Foley said.

Smith wants to address the issue by providing more funds toward Pre-K programs.

One issue that the two candidates do starkly disagree on is charter schools. Foley says he is not against charter schools entirely but thinks each school should be accountable. However, he is generally not in favor of charter schools.

“The privatization of education with public dollars opens up a Pandora’s Box of opportunities for waste, fraud, and abuse,” Foley said. In the voter’s guide, Foley goes onto give Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT) as an example for his claim about charter schools.

Smith believes that traditional schooling within the local community is the best. However, he does not share the same concern about charter schools that Foley does and believes that families should chose the type of school they feel is best.

A crucial part of any school funding plan involves income taxes, and there the candidates disagree.

“Further state tax reductions are fiscally irresponsible,” Foley said. “I believe in being responsible with the people’s money, and we have to be steadfast against misuse or waste of public dollars. But the belief that the public sphere has no role in creating a good society is wrong.”

Meanwhile, Smith answers the question about cutting income taxes by proposing Ohioans should get increased and refundable taxes credits and that the government spend less money.

Foley believes that his 20 years of experience in the government and advocating for Medicaid makes him qualified to represent the 43rd district.

Meanwhile, Smith also gave his own pitch: “The Miami Valley can be a national leader again, but it’s going to take real change and real leadership to make that happen. I do not believe voters are looking for more of the same.”

In the days just before Election Day, the race turned negative after a television ad campaign accused Foley of misusing his authority during a traffic stop by Brookville Police officers in June.

The ad features dash-cam video of a field sobriety test administered to Foley after the car he was driving was stopped by a Brookville police officer in June.

Foley was pulled over June 23 by Brookville Police for driving 44 miles per hour in a 25 mph zone, according to police records. Foley said he told the officer that he had had one beer earlier that day. Foley said he passed a field sobriety test, was ticketed for speeding and paid his fine a few days later.

“I was wrong to speed, and paid the ticket in a timely manner, ” Foley said in a written statement. “I thank the officer for his service and for following all protocol to keep our community safe. I was disappointed to see my opponent’s allies attack this officer’s reputation and accuse him of a crime.”

The 30-second ad, which is airing on Dayton-area TV stations, is funded by Hardworking Ohioans Inc., a political action committee that is spending heavily in several close races for Ohio House seats.

“Since my entry into politics, I have run a positive and issue-focused campaign,” Smith said. “That has not and will not change. The events that have now come to light concerning Commissioner Foley are his issues, and he alone has the right and responsibility to address them. Any questions about this event should be directed to Dan Foley.”

Laura Bischoff and Chris Stewart contributed to this report.

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