COLUMBUS, Ohio — Throughout the month of September, Spectrum News is highlighting key races in both the state's House and Senate.
On Friday, we are focusing on the 37th House District in northeastern Ohio which includes northeast Summit County. The race pits two candidates who used to serve on Hudson City Council together.
Democratic Rep. Casey Weinstein believes his commitment to bipartisanship made his first term successful. He says it is not lost on him that he represents a 'classic purple district' and his focus is to accurately represent his neighbors.However, Republican Beth Bigham believes her approach to leadership and representation is better suited for the district.
Bigham has been a Hudson City Council member the past four and a half years. She says as a nurse practitioner and small business owner, she has always had a passion to serve and lead.
"And I think there's a vacuum that I want to be able to fill and I feel called to fill," says Bigham.
Bigham thinks there needs to be more female leadership at the Statehouse and that she is the best candidate to lead the 37th district out of the pandemic and boost the economy while restoring conservative values.
"I am pro life. I am pro police, pro law and order and think that we need to respect all life," Bigham says.
Meanwhile, Weinstein touts several accomplishments including protecting Lake Erie with H2Ohio, securing a security grant for vulnerable non profits like Jewish temples, raising teachers' salaries and PTSD for first responders. But above all, as an Air Force veteran and the Ranking Member of the Armed Services Committee, he is proudest of the law he helped pass to help the spouses of military families have their professional licenses immediately honored when they move.
"Working for military families, which by the way helps everybody when we retain that amazing talent and those families in Ohio, when we take care of them I think it's something unique that I bring to the table," says Weinstein.
Weinstein says his priorities remain to pass 'Madeline's Law' which would provide medical coverage for hearing aids for children, gun reform legislation, reducing EV fees and addressing medical marijuana.
"I'm hopeful that we can get some of these things done this General Assembly. I've never had a lame duck before. I've heard they're kinda crazy in term of opportunities to get things done," Weinstein says.
Weinstein and Bigham are far apart on other key issues. Bigham thinks the way to boost the economy is through increased deregulation while Weinstein wants further investment in renewable energy. Weinstein is the only one of the two in favor of Governor DeWine's mask mandate. The two also have different views on systemic racism.
“I think it’s fair to say we are at a reckoning today and a long overdue conversation. There’s still a wide gulf and where we need to be and where we need to get as a state and as a country,” says Weinstein.
"It's sad for me to see the racial division and the hate but I also see another side too that maybe sSometimes I wonder if the media is exploiting some of those images and blowing them up all over the place because I talk to other people who don't have those same feelings and maybe they're identified with those groups and they don't see it the same way that the media is making it out to be," says Bigham.
This race could be a photo finish. Weinstein won just over 50 percent of the vote back in 2018 and Hillary Clinton had around 52 percent support in Summit County in 2016.