Independent candidate for state representative Pete Schlegel might be best known for his foray into country music, but the Paulding County native says his small business accomplishments prove that he has the skills to enter politics.
"We built some Subways back in the mid '90s and have always continued to buy different things and sell them. You know, if I can make an improvement to a business and buy it... we most recently did that with a carryout and convenience store that was going to close, and we added a new gas station there," said Schlegel, running for the 82nd district
Schlegel's opponent Republican Tony Burkley is also a small business owner and is known for his long time role as a Paulding County commissioner.
"I've been a commissioner in Paulding County for 16 years. It gives me a perspective of how local government functions, not only with the resources they've got, but the impact that the state decisions have on local governments," said Burkley.
The candidates are vying for the newly created 82nd District seat in Ohio. The district covers Van Wert, Paulding and Defiance Counties as well as a portion of Auglaize County. The debate took place at the St. Marys Rotary Club, so naturally the two were questioned about restoring the health of Grand Lake St. Marys.
"I do farm. It's obviously a farming issue especially in this area, and we've got the Lake Erie Watershed as well to be concerned about," said Schlegel.
"One thing we don't want to get into is a knee jerk reaction and not follow science and what issues are actually beneficial for the lake," said Burkley.
One area where the two have distinct viewpoints concerns state cuts to local government funds.
"Why don't we keep some of it here and look at maybe Columbus being a little bit smaller versus taking away for our local entities," said Schlegel.
"We definitely want to live within our means, and we don't want to tax the population any more for things we can maybe overcome locally," said Burkley.
The winner will serve a two year term as a member of the 130th General Assembly in Ohio.