COLUMBUS, Ohio — Throughout the month of September, Spectrum News is highlighting key races in both the state's House and Senate.
On Monday, we are focusing on the 24th Senate District in northeastern Ohio which includes parts of Cuyahoga County. The race features an incumbent seeking re-election who also spent three terms serving in the House of Representatives. His challenger is a political newcomer who feels his district is not being properly represented by the current leadership.
Republican Sen. Matt Dolan (Chagrin Falls) feels he deserves another shot to represent his district because of the increase in local government funding he says he helped provide to his neighbors. Democrat Tom Jackson says Dolan cannot be trusted to be loyal to anyone other than special interests.
Jackson is an account executive at an insurance agency in Beachwood where he says he serves more than 200 families and businesses. He previously worked for Progressive Insurance and the nonprofit and nonpartisan Close Up Foundation in Washington D.C., whose mission is to inform the public of government issues.
"I'm looking to bring those skills and that approach to the Statehouse to serve the people of Ohio," says Jackson.
If elected, Jackson says his top priority would be to fully fund public education.
"Ohio has really moved away from its primary mission of funding fair public schools for all of its kids. We're trying to do too much with too few dollars and with too little accountability," Jackson says.
During his term, Dolan has gotten several bills passed by the Senate and signed into law. Gov. Mike DeWine signed legislation last December to strengthen penalties for promoting prostitution. Former Gov. John Kasich signed one of his bills that gives legal support for blockchain-based business transactions. Dolan has another bill on DeWine's desk which would allow for-profit corporations to become benefit corporations. Other Dolan bills passed by the Senate include the establishment of a statewide watershed planning and management program to improve water quality and providing $650 million in pandemic relief a couple weeks ago.
“This isn’t the time for partisanship. This is the time for common sense leadership in order to solve problems—problems that can set us on a path of making Ohio a second class state,” says Dolan.
Dolan says, if re-elected, his main focus is making sure Ohio's economy keeps up with the private sector in terms of clean energy, investment regulations and workforce development.
"Before the pandemic, ... we had more open jobs than we did people on unemployment. Where our disconnect was, we didn't have enough skilled workers in particular areas and so that's the gap we're desperately trying to close," Dolan says.
When it comes to other pertinent issues, the two candidates are closely aligned. Each is in favor of DeWine's mask mandate and both believe systemic racism is an issue the government needs to address. The two only differ in the way they feel Ohioans can get better access to affordable healthcare. Dolan is in favor of ending surprise billing, a bill that is currently in front of the senate. Jackson says there needs to be more affordable options aside from employer-based programs.
It will be interesting to see if Jackson can flip the seat.
Cuyahoga County voted heavily blue in the last presidential election and in the midterms, however, Dolan won this seat in 2016 by 16 percent.