COLUMBUS, Ohio (WTRF) - The Eggs and Issues Candidate Forum Breakfast was held at the New Albany Country Club, hosted by the New Albany Chamber of Commerce.
At the forum, 12th Congressional District candidates State Senator Troy Balderson, the Republican nominee, and Franklin County Recorder Danny O’Conner, the Democratic nominee, took turns answering questions posed to them by Jo Ingles a reporter for Ohio Public Radio and T.V. who moderated the event.
Balderson and O’Connor answered questions over a wide variety of topics for about an hour.
They opened and closed the forum with a statement and were given 1:30 to answer the questions.
On several topics, Balderson and O’Connor were in agreement.
Both men agreed that the Federal Budget needed to be reformed; that separating children from their families at the border is wrong; they won’t support President Trump's tariffs; and neither will support single payer healthcare but both do want to protect requirements for accepting pre-existing conditions.
The disagreement came on all other issues discussed, like the president's tax reforms and whether they would support a Balanced Budget Amendment.
O’Connor says he will not support the currently proposed Balanced Budget Amendment as now is not the right time to do so.
Balderson says he will and went on to talk about how he is a lawmaker who sits on a committee that creates a balanced budget and how that has prepared him to do the same in Washington D.C.
O’Connor did call out Balderson for how he has reportedly wanted to deal with Social Security by raising the age at which it can be received.
Balderson did not openly address the matter and instead provided general ways in which the system could be paid for by reforming the Federal Budget.
O’Connor likewise gave no specific details when pressed about where he was going to find the money to make Social Security solvent.
The candidate's responses were taken in by a room full of people, two of which were young adults who wanted to hear more from them before making a decision about who to vote for in August.
Jessica Von Zastrow and Olivia Irion are friends with different political opinions. They went to different high schools but worked together last summer. They didn’t know the other would be at the forum and were pleasantly surprised to see a friendly face.
Both young ladies came to the forum for different reasons. Von Zastrow is a political science major and had seen O’Connor speak at another event. She wanted to hear more from him.
Irion is a self-described Republican who knew little about the candidates themselves and wanted to know more.
Both were happy with their experience at the forum and say they learned a lot.
“Being able to hear both sides was definitely educational,” said Irion. “It was kind of eye-opening in a way.”
The forum helped both women get closer to a decision about who they would vote for next month.
This was also the case for a number of other individuals in the room Thursday morning.
One man had his opinions reinforced by what he heard and the forum helped him come to a decision.
Another man says while he was impressed by O’Connor, he is still waiting to hear the specifics from both candidates on a single topic before he makes a final decision.
That topic is healthcare. The man wants more details about how they plan to fix it and pay for it, and those kinds of details were not given by either candidate at the forum.
O’Connor talked about being part of a new generation of leadership and how bi-partisanship is what he is most interested in.
Balderson also talked about bi-partisanship and how he employs that tactic at the Ohio Statehouse.
“Having the record of being in position of having to make decisions, balancing budgets, is the biggest thing I have over Danny,” said Balderson after the forum.
In the past four years, Balderson has been a joint primary sponsor on four bills with a Democrat. Three of those bills were to honor someone or something. The solitary bill he worked jointly with a Democrat on was with Sen. Lou Gentile and it urged for an increase in funding for diabetes. During that same timeframe, Balderson was the primary sponsor of 101 total bills.
In this General Assembly alone, from January 2017 – December 2018, Balderson has been the primary sponsor of 39 bills. Only 2 of them are not honoring someone, recognizing something, or designating a highway in memory of someone. From January 2015 – December 2016 the same can be said for 7 out of 62 bills he was a primary sponsor of.
It is safe to say the 92 bills that honored, recognized or designated, most if not all passed with bi-partisan support.
Meanwhile, O’Connor lauded his position as Franklin County Recorder, running an office of 50 employees as an advantage of its own.
“I have the experience of running an executive office where if we don’t get the job done real estate lags in our community,” said O’Connor. “A member of the legislature, they could not show up and I don’t know if anyone would notice the difference.”
Recently the Columbus Dispatch endorsed O’Connor in this race.
There will be two elections for this seat this year; a special election on August 7th which will determine which candidate will occupy the vacant seat until the end of the year.
The second election, the General Election held on November 6th, will determine who occupies the seat for the following two years.
Voter registration has already closed and early voting is underway for the special election.
People living in the 12th Congressional District still have time to register to vote in the General Election.
Finally, if there is one thing Von Zarow took away from Thursday’s forum it is this: “As they both were emphasizing, bi-partisanship is super important to actually getting things done for everyone,” said Von Zarow.
She plans to vote next month and again in November, as does Irion.
The young women say that many of their friends, young adults who are looking to have their voices heard, are prepared to do the same.