While Tom Dunlap and Dick Stein have found common ground on issues like gun control and energy, both candidates are emphasizing their differences as they vie for Ohio’s 57th House District seat.
Dunlap, a Democrat from New London, and Stein, a Republican from Norwalk, are locked in a fight for the seat vacated by Republican incumbent Terry Boose, who cannot seek re-election due to term limits.
Dunlap is a Huron County commissioner and 38-year veteran in law enforcement. He was elected Huron County sheriff in 1984 and served in the Bellevue police department from 1989 to 1992. From there, he went on to work at the Erie Huron Ottawa Vocational Education center as its academy commander and criminal justice instructor.
Stein has owned an operated Stein Photography in Norwalk for the past 40 years and is also a member of the Huron County Republican Party Central Committee. After recently being appointed to a seat on the Huron County Board of Elections, he vacated the position because of his candidacy for the 57th District.
Both candidates are advocating for ways that Ohio can transform its energy infrastructure.
“I think we should get back on track using clean coal as an energy source,” Dunlap said. “It will get many of our local miners and workers back to work. Clean coal refers to the filtering system used to capture many of the pollutants that used to go in the air as a result of coal power. In everything I’ve studied, what we have available to us now makes coal burning pretty safe for the environment.”
Stein thinks solutions to both energy demand and environmental concerns can be found through advancements in nuclear technology. He said the use of molten salt nuclear reactors would address many concerns over waste storage. In these reactors, molten salt is used as the primary coolant or even as the fuel itself.
“The storage of spent nuclear fuel is a valid worry that needs to be addressed,” he said. “Through molten salt and other forms of advanced nuclear, we can now take our current fuel rods, which can sometimes go out of use with 90 percent of their power still remaining, and burn the fuel down to where only five percent remains. Doing this will eliminate the nuclear waste stockpile and create around 72 years of electricity for the entire country.”
At a Wellington Chamber of Commerce candidates night in October, Stein said he thinks there is a correlation between a shrinking number of well-playing jobs in Ohio and the state’s opioid epidemic.
“Judging from anecdotal evidence, I would say that’s true,” he said. “People have less mobility and opportunity to move up through different jobs. It stops one from being proficient and satisfied in what you do. Without personal satisfaction, harmful vices are more likely to come into play.”
Dunlap said he does not see a link between the two issues.
“(Stein) says that but I don’t see any substance behind it,” he said. “I don’t see how there’s any practical application to that. If you’re going to have more jobs in Ohio, there has to be a driving and active economic development source. You have to anticipate the next technological advancements and be on the leading edge of it.”
Stein and Dunlap are both registered members of the National Rifle Association and agreed that mental health should be better monitored for prospective gun owners.
“I’m a long-standing NRA member, instructor, and teacher of concealed carry classes,” said Dunlap. “What I would like to see done is some avenue to be able to open up mental health as part of the background check. With current laws, you can’t. Medical information is confidential. I think we need to very carefully research this.”
“Tom is a heck of a hunter,” said Stein. “I’m more of a plunker and shoot at targets and the occasional woodchuck. What worries me about gun control is overreach with the Second Amendment. I look at the legislation I’ve been exposed to, and when it comes to whether that legislation would have stopped a shooting, the answer is almost always no. When it comes to mental illness, we need to look at those kinds of things to keep people safe. If I want to hand over a gun to my son or granddaughter, I don’t know if having to go through a gun store for that is going to save any lives.”
As far as primary points of emphasis for their campaigns, Stein points to reducing state taxes, lowering energy costs for families and businesses, avoiding federal education mandates like the Common Core, and establishing broader healthcare transparency. Dunlap wants to reform tax valuation of farms, get rid of the Common Core, and broaden state support for local law enforcement agencies.
Both candidates have won endorsements from Ohio Right to Life. Stein earned a 79 percent rating from the NRA while Dunlap received a score of 86.
Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-647-3171 or @DelozierNews on Twitter.