Mahoning Matters reached out to candidates running for local office with a standard list of questions aimed at helping voters make an informed decision in the 2020 election. Each campaign's response will be published in the Mahoning, Trumbull or Columbiana County Voter Guide as it is received and all responses are subject to minimal editing for clarity and/or length. Mahoning Matters does not endorse any candidate.
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Candidate Name: Chris Stanley
Office Sought: Ohio State Representative
Candidate's Party Affiliation: Democrat
Candidate's City of Residence: Canfield
Chris Stanley is married to talented educator and Austintown native Morgan. He is a father to three daughters, Rylee (16), Olivia (13), Lylah (8), and one boy, Samuel (5), and the owner of Teddy Roosevelt the Dog and Ringo Stella the Cat. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in Integrated Social Studies Education and a Master of Arts in Liberal Studies from Ohio Dominican University. He now teaches 7th and 8th-grade social studies in the Youngstown Public Schools. Stanley has extensive experience in education. In 2006 he accepted a position as a substitute teacher for South-Western City Schools and Upper Arlington City Schools before becoming an 8th-grade social studies teacher at the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow. From 2010—2014 Stanley was as an adjunct professor at ODU where he taught Constitutional Law, Justice, Rights, Liberties, and The American Presidency and other courses. During the 2011-2012 school year, Stanley was retained by the Ohio History Connection to draft the 8th-grade supplemental textbook that was used across Ohio. In 2015 Stanley became Program Manager of Research and Education at ACUHO-I, an international student affairs association at OSU. In 2016 he returned to ECOT as a Cross-Curricular Coordinator. In 2015 Stanley Jump Splash Books, a publisher of children’s books that focus on the wonder and power of imagination. His first book, The Tree Watcher, which he wrote and illustrated was placed on the Gittle List of top-ten Indie children’s books. He has authored four other works in the past four years. In 2017 Stanley became the Vice President of Operations for Whistle & Keg, LLC in Youngstown. While still involved with the Whistle & Keg, Stanley stepped back from his operations role in the fall of 2019 when he was hired by the YPS.
1. What qualities do you possess that qualify you for the job you are seeking?
I believe my education and my experience as a First Responder, educator, and private sector gives me a unique perspective that will enable me to effectively represent the interests of the people of the 59th District.
2. If you are elected, is there anything in particular that you hope to accomplish? And briefly, what is it and why is it important?
I know from personal experience, we all know from our life experience, that if opportunity exists Ohioans will seize it. We'll go to school, we'll work hard, and we will build things, roads, bridges, companies large and small, safe neighborhoods, great communities, and a better life for this and generations to come. I’m running for the Ohio House because I want to make Ohio the one place in the nation that creates more opportunities than any other for every resident, no matter where they live, no matter what they do, no matter who they are, to reach their full potential and realize their dreams. My life experience as an educator, entrepreneur, and First Responder makes me uniquely qualified to represent the people of the 59th District in the Ohio House of Representatives. Finally, my opponent is a captive of the corrupt pay-to-play system Larry Householder has created in the Ohio House—a system that places the interests of Householder’s corporate contributors above those of the people of Ohio. My candidacy gives the people of the Mahoning Valley the opportunity to send the GOP power structure a loud and clear message: our votes are not for sale.
3. What do you feel will be the top issue facing this office over the next term? How would you focus your efforts to tackle it?
Along with being my number one priority, this issue is close to my heart because the kids I teach in Youngstown are every bit as inquisitive, talented, and eager to learn as kids in Canfield and Poland and Boardman and New Middletown. That's why I believe every child in Ohio should have the opportunity to receive a world-class public education whether he or she lives in the inner-city, Appalachia, on a farm, or in an affluent suburb. No student should have their future determined by their zip code. More than 20 years after being declared unconstitutional, Ohio’s school funding formula remains a disaster. Republicans chronically shortchange our public schools while spending tens of millions of taxpayer dollars to prop up failed for-profit charters and pay for private school vouchers. As a result, school leaders are forced to raise local property taxes, impose fees for athletics and extra-curricular activities, increase class sizes, and eliminate courses. As a member of the House, I’ll fight for a new funding formula that will reduce the reliance on local property taxes and ban for-profit charters. Doing so will enable us to invest in academic success by strengthening our primary and secondary schools, providing teachers with the resources they need including state-of-the-art technology, delivering wrap-around services that strengthen families and communities, and making college and advanced training accessible and affordable for all Ohioans.
4. What are your plans to ensure that all of your constituents would have access to the same resources and opportunities, regardless of race or socioeconomic status? In your view, where does the system fall short?
The kids I teach in Youngstown are as inquisitive, talented, and eager to learn as students in Ohio’s most affluent suburbs, but due to Ohio’s unconstitutional school funding formula, their prospects for success in school and in life are in large part determined by their zip code. That must change. In addition to school funding, the Republican majority’s overall budget priorities reflect systematic racism. State funding for urban areas has been slashed to fund tax cuts for the wealthiest Ohioans. That means urban mayors and county commissioners don’t have the money they need to pay for better policing, infrastructure improvements, and other programs that will improve residents’ quality of life. Erasing systemic racism will be a two-step process: we must first acknowledge the role misguided/malevolent public policy has played in fueling it and then alter those policies.
5. What are you doing to disrupt the status quo of politics? If you had the power, what one change would you make right now?
I’m running for the 59th District seat in the Ohio House to change the status-quo of politics and most especially to end the Republican corruption that now infects our state. If I had the power, I would make three changes because one won’t get the job done: First, enact strong campaign finance reform that will end the Republican pay-to-play system that has perverted the legislative and regulatory process in Ohio for far too long. The $61 million, Larry Householder/First Energy bribery scheme is merely the latest manifestation of a sordid system fueled by huge campaign contributions to the Republicans who totally control the General Assembly and constitutional offices. Don’t forget, Larry Householder is SECOND GOP speaker to step down in recent years: Cliff Rosenberger was forced from office in 2018 when it was learned that he was under investigation by the FBI. For more than a decade important decisions about education, transportation, the environment, and taxation have been dictated by corporations, lobbyists, and interest groups that have funneled millions of dollars in contributions to the Republican Party and GOP officeholders. If we want to make Ohio government work for everyday Ohioans, we must tear the “For Sale” sign off the Statehouse. Second, gerrymandering must end. Uncompetitive districts breed unaccountability and allow corruption to flourish. Need an example: indicted Larry Householder is unopposed in the upcoming elections and was just endorsed by the Perry County Republican Party. The same is true for Nino Vitale, the extremist House member who has constantly undermined the state’s efforts to curb COVID-19. Fairly drawn districts will give the voters a real opportunity to express their opinion at the ballot box. Third, Ohio should adopt a universal vote by mail (UVBM) system based on Colorado’s highly-successful, widely-respected model. UVBM increases voter turnout, enhances election security and reduces costs. Along with Colorado, Washington, Utah, Oregon, and Hawaii have adopted UVBM, we need to join them.
6. Are you satisfied with Ohio's response to the COVID-19 pandemic? If yes, why? If not, what do you think should be done instead? Can more be done at the local level? The federal level?
For the most part, I've been satisfied with Governor DeWine's response to the crisis, but I, like many Ohioans, are disappointed that he allowed extremists in his own party, including indicted Larry Householder, certified lunatic Nino Vitale, and my opponent drive Dr. Amy Acton out of office and restrict the ability of medical experts take the steps needed to curb the spread of COVID-19. By refusing to wear masks and observe social distancing protocols my opponent and other Republicans are encouraging behavior that is making it difficult if not impossible to significantly reduce new infections. The response at the federal level has been a woefully inadequate both from the medical and economic perspective, as demonstrated by the fact the President Trump, the First Lady, and his closes aide have all now tested positive.
7. The state is expected to make cuts in its upcoming budget in light of the reduction in tax revenue because of the pandemic. How should the state and local government set budget priorities? How deeply should cuts be made? What should your office be doing, or is doing, to prepare?
I'm not in office, but when I am sworn into the Ohio House in January I'll begin working on the next state budget. I don't accept the premise of the question--now is the time to provide more support for Ohioans, small businesses, public schools, law enforcement, and local government, not less. We can avoid cuts by eliminating tax cuts for the wealthiest Ohioans that cost the state more than a billion dollars each year and utilizing the rainy day fund to fill the budget gaps. Draconian cuts to the areas mentioned above will contract the economy and increase the deficit. We need to invest in Ohio and Ohioans to reenergize the economy and generate additional revenue.
8. What do you think is the most pressing matter that pertains to the next generation of Ohioans who may be voting for the first time?
The cost of college and the onerous burden of student loan debt that impedes this generation's ability to fully participate in the economy. Today, the average student at Ohio's public universities graduates with a diploma in one hand and a bill for $35,000 in student loans in the other. We can and must significantly reduce the cost of attending YSU and Ohio's other outstanding public universities and community colleges and establish a state program to underwrite student loans at a reduced interest rate that includes forgiveness for graduates who commit to stay in Ohio and work in specified professions including teaching, engineering, law enforcement, and social work.
9. Are you frustrated by the political sniping, exaggeration and even lies between the parties and their supporters that has diminished respect and reasoned compromise? If so, what will you personally do to make the situation better?
Yes, and it's important to note that my opponent and the Ohio Republican Party is conducting a slimy, misleading, negative campaign against me, funding in part with money from indicted former House Speaker Larry Householder. I'm fighting to make the situation better by conducting a campaign focused on the issues that are important to the people of the 59th District and will always tell the truth about myself, my stand on matters of great importance, and my opponent.
10. Who is your hero, and why?
My hero is Abraham Lincoln, and has been since I was very young. As I grew older and made the study and teaching of history my career, my admiration and respect for him has only grown as I continue to learn about his life, his relationships, and his purpose. He is an absolutely fascinating person, and is the definition of a warrior poet. His capability to express, profoundly and succinctly, the ideals of this nation have never been matched. The Gettysburg Address, in just 272 words, not only redefined the purpose of our great national calamity, The Civil War, but also redefined the very purpose of our great experiment with democracy as well. But to me, his Second Inaugural is even more profound. In this speech you can feel the terrible toll that the war had inflicted upon our nation, and upon President Lincoln himself. He was more than just high-minded ideals. He was a shrewd politician who knew how to get things done that were right, overcoming many obstacles to do so. He put the needs of the nation above his own ego, appointing many political rivals to his cabinet because they could offer him the best council to steer our nation through the troubling times. And he continued to grow as a person throughout his life. While he was always against slavery, he didn't necessarily think that black and white people were "equal" throughout his life. However, as a man of reflection, he grew to reject those thoughts and declared that black men should have the right to vote. It was that speech at the end of the war that got him killed—John Wilkes Booth was in the crowd that night, heard Lincoln say that black men should be able to vote, and then determined to kill him. He compromised where he could, was pragmatic where he needed to be, and fought when necessary. As was said all those years ago, so it remains: "It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced." It's time for our generation to take up the torch as we continue to strive toward our more perfect union and have a government of the people, by the people, and for the people.