Ravenna -- The opioid epidemic and the need for jobs were among the topics for candidates at a gathering Sept. 28 sponsored by the Portage County TEA Party PAC.

The crowd of about 100 at Maplewood Career Center heard mostly from Republican candidates for local, state and federal legislative offices.

John Mancini of Brimfield said the heroin problem is deep in Portage County and county government "needs to act effectively. Too many people are dying."

Mancini said if elected a commissioner there would be "no cronyism, no special favors, no deceiving the public, no secret meetings." Mancini was referring to a series of lawsuits now in court against commissioners alleging they violated the state open meeting laws.

He is running against incumbent county commissioner Maureen T. Frederick.

Sabrina Christian-Bennett, Republican candidate for the county board, also promised action on the drug problem, which is responsible for burglaries, shoplifting and other crimes.

She said she would make eliminating drug abuse "one of my top priorities."

She is running against Democrat Mike Kerrigan of Rootstown for the seat being vacated by Kathleen Chandler.

Other county candidates speaking were Lori Calcei of Suffield, candidate for recorder, and Tia Paoloni, candidate for clerk of courts.

Paoloni, who has worked as a legal secretary and currently as an assignment commissioner for a judge, said the clerk's computer system is outdated and frustrating to attorneys and staff to use.

Calcei said similar things about the recorder's computer system, and that Portage lags behind other counties in services for taxpayers.

PAOLONI AND Calcei took jabs at their opponents. Calcei is opposed by Renee Howe-Aboul, daughter of retiring Recorder Bonnie Howe, while Paoloni is running against appointed Clerk Jill Fankhauser, daughter-in-law of former Clerk Linda Fankhauser and wife of Municipal Court Judge Mark Fankhauser.

Paoloni decried "the cronyism and nepotism in our county. Aren't you just tired of it? Aren't you tired of seeing the same names?" she asked.

State Sen. John Eklund outlined what he's accomplished in five years in the Ohio Legislature.

He said he worked to reduce state taxes, established a review of state regulations by a cost/benefit analysis and worked to connect state social services to help people succeed.

Jim Lutz, a Suffield Republican, said he wants to address the opioid epidemic as well as help small businesses.

Lutz is running against incumbent Democrat Kathleen Clyde for the 75th Ohio House seat.

State Rep. Sarah LaTourette, running for a second term in the 76th Ohio House District, said she introduced successful legislation that extends the time rape cases may be prosecuted.

Also speaking were Congressional candidates Democrat Keith Mundy of Parma, who is running in the 16th District race against incumbent Republican Jim Renacci; and Akron Republican Richard Morckel, running to unseat incumbent Democrat Tim Ryan from the 13th Congressional District seat.

Mundy said he was not actually a Democrat. "I'm a Berniecrat," he said. Mundy was a leader in the Bernie Sanders movement. He said he was inspired by Sanders to run for office, and he is committed to effecting change.

Morckel said he wants to prioritize local needs first. "And then we can provide money to other countries," he said.

The group said all candidate speeches from the event were videotaped and will be posted on the Tea Party's website as a resource for voters.

Email: msever@recordpub.com

Phone: 541-9400 ext. 4154