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Elections 2018: Smith, Foley Vying For Seat In Ohio House District 43

Montgomery County Commissioner Dan Foley faces Republican State Rep. J. Todd Smith in House District 43.
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Montgomery County Commissioner Dan Foley faces Republican State Rep. J. Todd Smith in House District 43.

Ohio voters head to the polls Tuesday, Nov. 6, for this year’s midterm elections.

Among the statewide races on the ballot is House District 43, where Montgomery County Commissioner Dan Foley faces Republican State Rep. J. Todd Smith for the seat. Smith was appointed in the hotly contested district after Republican Jeff Rezabek left this summer to become a county juvenile court judge.

Republican J. Todd Smith is a longtime pastor at the Church at Farmersville, located southwest of Dayton.

Smith also serves on the Valley View Schools Security Committee and is a member of the National Rifle Association. The NRA has endorsed the Republican candidate.

Political newcomer Smith says if he’s elected in November he’ll cut spending and make growing jobs and the economy top priorities.

“And keep our taxes low create an environment that's competitive for businesses, so that a business would want to build here instead of move out of here and build somewhere else."

Smith’s opponent says he also wants to see more jobs, economic development and business growth.

Democrat Dan Foley touts his record in these areas during his more than a decade on the Montgomery County Commission.

He says more needs to be done to increase investment in Northwest Dayton.

If elected, Foley says he’ll also push to increase access to mental health care across the state.

“Eighty percent of kids in Ohio don't get any mental health care at all. And it's really time to beef up that infrastructure and help kids when they're younger.”

Both candidates list the state’s opioid epidemic as a top priority. 

Foley and Smith also both oppose abortion, but they differ on abortion-related policy. 

"I'm pro-life all the way," Smith says. "The 'heartbeat bill' would be one I'd vote for today. I'd vote for it yesterday if it was up."

The controversial proposal was vetoed by Gov. John Kasich two years ago. The measure would prohibit abortions just a few weeks into a woman's pregnancy. The bill was reintroduced again last year. 

The Harrison Township resident Foley says, if elected, he would not vote to criminalize abortion. 

"I think that's wrong. But I am pro-life. My belief comes from the notion that, from conception to death, life has dignity. And that includes things like helping the poor, helping the homeless and investing in public education," says Foley.  

The candidates say they both favor of protecting the Second Amendment and the constitutional right to possess a firearm.

But they differ on gun policy. 

Smith is calling for armed resource officers at every school to fight potential attackers. 

"I am a proud NRA member. The NRA is the greatest organization trying to reduce crime and gun violence in the nation," Smith says. "When I go to Columbus as an elected official, I am protected by people with guns. When I go to the Cincinnati Reds, the Dayton Dragons, those sports programs are protected by people with guns."

Foley says he'd also work to protect gun rights, but he favors increased regulation. 

"That's an important right, but I do think as a legislator I would be interested in finding ways to support those laws that would keep the community safer."

Foley notes he'd work toward passing legislation that could keep guns out of the hands of people with mental-health issues. 

"Indiana passed a law, it's called the "red-flag law," that would keep guns away from people who have mental health issues, and I think Ohio should replicate that. There's a correlation between guns and suicide, particularly for folks who are having difficulties with mental health issues. I'd love to champion those kinds of gun-safety initiatives," Foley says. "A majority of people support background checks and I think we can institute stronger safety laws that would get bipartisan support, I hope, I hope."

House District 43 covers Preble and parts of Montgomery County, including Dayton, Trotwood, Clayton and Englewood.

It’s almost evenly split between Democrats and Republicans. President Donald Trump won the district in 2016 by just a few points.