LISBON - Education, jobs, responsible spending, and breaking down party lines are on the minds of the two men running for state representative.
Craig Newbold, the Republican incumbent from Columbiana, faces off against Democrat Nick Barborak, of Lisbon on Nov. 6. Barborak is currently the county treasurer, a position he has held since 2007. It is his first time running for the state seat.
Newbold currently represents the 1st District and is seeking a second term. He is vice chair of the commerce, labor and technology committee, and member of the education, finance and appropriations committees and higher education subcommittee.
Over the last 44 years he has worked in management for several companies and created his own, including BEST Consulting, which he founded in Seattle, Wash. in 1990. He currently serves as founder of NewLife Academy of Information Technology, Newbold Technologies and American Spirit Initiative, all of which are located in his hometown of East Liverpool and geared toward helping people in economically distressed areas through information technology.
He is a Beaver Local High School graduate and graduate of the University of Cincinnati Executive Program. He also holds a degree in business administration from Aquinas College in Michigan.
Prior to being elected as treasurer, Barborak spent several years studying and practicing law and is a founding partner of the Barborak Law Offices in Lisbon. He holds a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Akron School of Law and has served on the Akron Law Review. After earning the doctorate he accepted a position as a law clerk to the 7th District Court of Appeals and later served as an assistant prosecuting attorney for Columbiana County. He is a 1993 graduate of Lisbon David Anderson High School and also holds a degree in political science from Kent State University.
Barborak said that if elected, he wants to focus on communities and making sure youths receive a good education, and that starts by talking "across the lines."
"It starts with discourse and dialogue. It's difficult to get things done with partisanship," he said.
He said the budget cuts enacted to offset the projected state deficit only hurt Ohio's communities, counties and schools and that instead, money could have been saved by eliminating tax breaks for special interests.
He added he doesn't believe the state legislature looked at what the cuts would do in the long run. He mentioned the Columbiana School District, which has not put a levy before voters since 2002 but this year requested a bond issue to pay for the refurbishment of the middle school. The issue was defeated by voters in May.
"All these cuts did was force schools and communities to ask voters to approve levies to make up for lost monies ... I think property owners feel like they are tapped out," he said.
He also said House Bill 136, which Newbold co-sponsored, would only allow for more money to go to charter schools. The legislation, currently stalled in the legislature, would expand the voucher program to allow parents earning up to $95,000 to send their children to a private school using vouchers and regardless of whether the current school was failing academically.
"It's really hurting our public school system, and it needs to be addressed," he said.
Newbold believes the education system is outdated and needs to be "rebuilt."
"We are falling behind nationally in math and sciences It penalizes our kids when they enter the job market," he said.
Improving the system would happen through the incorporation of blended learning concepts and less state control, Newbold said. Blended learning is a combination of brick and mortar learning and online schooling.
Less state control would allow school districts to meet their own needs and experiment with curriculum, he added.
"Each school's needs are different. One size doesn't fit all," he said, adding that less control wouldn't necessarily mean less state funding.
As for how the budget cuts affected school districts, he said the state legislature made the "best choices they could" by the deadline. He also said that while balancing the budget did "cause pain" it positioned the state to be more economically competitive.
He believes a "tremendous amount of money" could be saved through the consolidation of schools and their administration. He voted for Senate Bill 5, the legislation to limit collective bargaining among government employees, because he would like to see teachers who aren't doing their job properly paid accordingly and better teachers rewarded.
Although he didn't agree with everything SB5 contained or how it was presented, he said he approved because it was a means of balancing the budget.
"The public employees ended up looking like they were picked on. I don't think that was intentional," he said.
The legislation was later repealed by referendum vote.
Barborak said the bill was "completely lopsided."
"It leaves all the cards in the hands of the employer, and that is not bargaining. You need to give everybody a seat at the table," he said.
The candidates also differ on the matter of consumer sales practices and prison sentencing.
Barborak said the bills co-sponsored by Newbold are a "mistake" and allow for punishment for misbehavior to be "taken off the table."
He said the bill geared toward easing up the prison population "literally sends heroin pushers back out on the streets."
The bill allows for low-level offenders to be placed in halfway houses or community-based correction facilities in lieu of prison.
"I wouldn't have voted for it. I would not have allowed for a presumption of probation," Barborak said.
He added that while he understands why Newbold voted the way he did with regards to abortion (the Republican is pro-life), he believes it should "never be used as a form of birth control," but should be an option for life-or-death or rape cases.
"We need to streamline adoption and reduce the risk of unwanted pregnancy," he said.
Both candidates agree the oil and gas industry will be profitable for the county.
Barborak would like to see a minimum royalty law in the state and believes it would keep landowners, such as those who own property in the Brinker Storage Field, from being "bamboozled" out of a profitable lease agreement.
He said the minimum royalty should be tied to drilling permits, however.
With regards to surface drilling in state parks, he wants local people to have a say.
"I think Rep. Newbold has said he opposed surface drilling, but the bill he voted for allowed it," he said.
Newbold has attended meetings in the county to hear residents and local officials' concerns about drilling in Beaver Creek State Park. Whether drilling will actually take place there, through horizontal means or on the surface, has not been decided at this point.
Newbold believes the oil and gas activity will be a great source of revenue for the county - if the proper plan is in place. He said residents need to take advantage of the potential jobs created by the shale gas boom, and local vocational schools already offer welding programs, but they are "maxed out."
"I think we should be preparing ourselves for those things," he said.
He is against sharing the wealth across the state, as Gov. John Kasich has proposed.
"When they first introduced it at caucus I was very vocal that other counties weren't sharing their wealth. It should be reinvested back into our county," he said.
Some wealth, not necessarily related to the oil and gas industry, was kept in the county through the passage of the estate tax, he noted.
"Right after we passed that bill I had a few wealthy citizens call me and say 'Thank-you.'" The bill made a way for the citizens to remain in the county instead of moving out of state to retire, he said.
Barborak said keeping and attracting profitable business locally could be done through tax credits targeted toward those willing to create jobs, but only on the stipulation that if no job creation occurs, the credits be given back.
"The No. 1 issue is jobs and loss of jobs," he said. "(We fix that) by having good roads, schools and access to high-speed Internet."
According to Newbold, the state is making strides in job creation under Republican leadership and is currently listed as the No. 1 job creation state in the Midwest.
He also believes the state would benefit from less government control.
"The whole government-public pyramid has gotten flipped upside down. I think we as a people need to stand up and take control of the government at all levels," he said.
He added that shrinking the size of government would save money through less money being spent on overhead.
"That would free up money we could use elsewhere. Paying state overhead doesn't give you anything," he said.
Both candidates said that if elected they would work toward eliminating partisanship.
"I've never believed that good ideas come from party labels," Barborak said.