Voters in the northern half of Portage County, and much of Geauga County, will have a chance to choose a Republican candidate for Ohio House District 76 in Tuesday’s primary election.
Incumbent Diane Grendell of Chesterland faces a primary challenge from Chardon resident Frank Hall, a high school football coach and tutor at Chardon High School, according to the Geauga County Board of Elections.
Also running for election to the District 76 seat is Democrat Garrett Westhoven who faces no challengers on the ballot Tuesday but needs at least one vote to move on the November general election, according to Geauga County Board of Elections Director Pete Ziegler.
"His chances of making the ballot in November are extremely high," said Ziegler, referring to Westhoven of Chesterland.
In addition to working at Chardon High School, Hall, a father of nine adopted children, said he is a former law enforcement officer.
"I’m a pro-life guy," he said. "I believe in the Second Amendment, and I believe we need to support our local government better than what we’re doing."
Grendell, a registered nurse, former judge and longtime legislator, said the general assembly needs experienced hands guiding the way as many offices turn over due to term limits.
"One of the biggest things I’m working on right now is the OPERS retirement fund," she said, adding investment brokers are "making $300,000 to $800,000 on fees."
As a survivor of the 2012 shooting at Chardon High School, Hall has a somewhat nuanced stance on guns and the Second Amendment.
"I believe a good guy with a gun stops a bad guy with a gun," he said. "I was the coach that chased the gunman out of the cafeteria that day."
While he believes in citizens’ rights to defend themselves, he said he’s not a fan of unfettered access to all sorts of weapons. Specifically, he said there should be no bump stocks, high volume magazines or conversion kits permitted.
"However, I do believe in a person’s absolute right to defend their life, liberty and property," he said.
With the Coach Hall Foundation, Hall said he helped advocate for the passage of Ohio House Bill 318, which he said outlines training for school resource officers, including topics like child psychology which helps officers understand students better, as well as SRCs’ various roles and duties within the school building.
Grendell said fixing school financing and school assessments are important to her.
"The Local Report Card grading last year was a disaster," she said. "The legislation has failed the public schools by putting so many rules and regulations on them that they can hardly function."
She added that she thinks money is not the entire answer to fixing school districts.
"Money has never been the answer," she said. "Unless there is some kind of family structure at home, it has never improved the system."
However, she said she would like to see the savings realized through sentencing reform go toward pre-kindergarten learning. It costs about $30,000 annually to house an inmate in prison, she added.
Westhoven, the Democrat in the race and a software engineer, said education is a priority for him, as well.
"There’s clearly a lot of frustration with the lack of funding for public schools," he said. "I know we’re approaching a solution, but it hasn’t really gotten here yet; it’s stuck in the legislature right now."
He also said he backs automatic voter registration and ranked choice balloting, in which each voter would be able to rank in order their preference for a given office.
For more about Grendell’s plans, visit http://www.ohiohouse.gov/diane-v-grendell?fbclid=IwAR2r5jtPMYhfLE_aKAXrcshA65n5aT-gXDzZPgcYLlkQYjFitMxqW-NdG-w.
For more information about Hall, visit his campaign website, https://www.frankhallforohio.com.
Reporter Bob Gaetjens can be reached at 330-541-9440, firstname.lastname@example.org or @bobgaetjens_rpc.