COLUMBUS, Ohio — Throughout the month of September, Spectrum News will highlight key races in both the state's House and Senate.
The 43rd House District in western Ohio includes Preble County and portions of Montgomery County. The 43rd race features a county commissioner against a former public school teacher.
Republican Rep. J. Todd Smith was beaten by fellow Republican Rodney Creech in the June primary. Now, Creech looks to take that momentum and turn it into a general election victory over Democrat Amy Cox.
Creech has been in politics the last 13 years, first serving as a Twin Township Trustee and now a Preble County Commissioner.
"I just feel like it's time to grow the boundaries and serve a larger area," says Creech.
Creech is also a farmer and owns a lawn care company. He says between his government experience and relationships in his community, he is ready to tackle important issues like the opioid epidemic and boosting the economy.
"Workforce development and preparedness, getting these kids out of school and getting them ready to work—that is something that is very important to me," Creech says.
Meanwhile, Cox says she left her teaching job to run for state office, not only so women have a stronger presenceat the Statehouse, but also to represent workers and make real change.
"Because if we are not at the table, we are on the menu," says Cox.
Cox says she is not a "career politician" like her opponent and feels that will work to her advantage when trying to address issues that matter to her like wages.
"If we just bring wages up that will settle a lot of what goes on as far as this never ending cycle of poverty and everything that comes with that," Cox says.
Cox and Creech are split on several key issues.
Cox believes in universal healthcare while Creech thinks the government should stay out of it.
When it comes to the pandemic, Cox is in favor of Gov. Mike DeWine's mask mandate. Creech is not.
And on the topic of racial injustice, one thinks it's real. The other does not.
"Obviously, we have systemic racial problems. I've witnessed that myself. I taught in inner city schools so I am no stranger to that. I hear their stories. I believe every one of them," explains Cox.
"No offense to you (Josh), I feel like the media has had a major role in what's going on. I feel like there's some stirring of the pot. I don't know why this has erupted all of a sudden but I feel like in our district we're all working together," Creech claims.
The 43rd District is one of hundreds that features a "pivot county" with its residents voting for former President Barack Obama twice then President Trump. Also in 2018, Rep. Smith only won his race by 87 votes.