A wide array of questions were fielded by U.S. congressional candidate Ken Harbaugh last Monday during an open forum with government students at Wellington High School.
Harbaugh (D-Avon) is attempting to unseat incumbent Bob Gibbs (R-Lakeville) in the race for Ohio’s 7th congressional district seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, which will be decided Nov. 6.
WHS juniors Madison Soboslay and Evan Kirkpatrick shared their thoughts on the forum and issues most important to them after Harbaugh finished speaking.
“It’s nice to know they actually care about what we think,” said Kirkpatrick. “They’re encouraging us to be active in politics and our own future. It’s important to me that (Harbaugh) said he won’t only vote with Democrats and will try to be bipartisan.”
“I have the nickname of ‘residential conservative’ here at the school,” Soboslay said. “It’s always good to hear someone from the opposite party. It also shows you can’t just subject yourself to one party. I even feel motivated right now to support (Harbaugh) and a lot of what he was saying. Even though I’m a Republican, it doesn’t mean I’m a jerk or something. It’s all about commitment and making sure the person with the seat doesn’t get too comfortable. I really like what Ken was saying but I want to hold him accountable. That goes the same with Bob Gibbs. There’s things I like about him but he doesn’t go out and talk with us like this to show he’s a human being.”
Questions asked by other students touched on subjects like gun violence and the opioid epidemic.
“I joined the military and had my respect for firearms reinforced, as tools not toys,” Harbaugh told students. “We have to have some common sense around it. The vast majority of Americans agree with that. Congress is not willing to do what the vast majority of Americans want. There’s no reason why someone on a terror watch list should be able to waltz into Wal-Mart and get a long rifle. There’s no reason why someone just convicted of a violent domestic assault should be able to do the same.”
Ohio can’t afford to waste money treating addicts as criminals, and Medicaid provisions must treat alcohol and drug addiction equally, he said.
“I’ve been in refugee camps on the verge of epidemic outbreaks, so I know what I’m looking at when I call this an epidemic,” he said. “This is a medical phenomenon. I’ve ridden along with more sheriff’s deputies, police officers, and firefighters than I can count. Every single one of them will tell you that we can’t arrest our way out of this epidemic. It’s not going to work. We have to invest in treatment.”
Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-775-1611 or @DelozierNews on Twitter.