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: Tim Ryan
Office Sought: Ohio's 13th Congressional District
Candidate's Party Affiliation: Democrat
Candidate's City of Residence: Howland
Tim Ryan is serving in his 9th term in the U.S House of Representatives -- where he represents Northeast Ohio. In 2016, Ryan was a leading campaign surrogate for Hillary Clinton. After Donald Trump was elected President, Ryan challenged Nancy Pelosi for Leader of the House Democratic Caucus. In 2019, Ryan was a Democratic candidate for President of the United States. Ryan is focused on improving the economy and quality-of-life here in the United States. He fights every day to enhance economic competitiveness and help attract high-quality, high-paying jobs to every community in the country. He is a champion of efforts to transform our education system, revitalize America’s cities, and improve the health and well-being of American families. He is the author of Healing America: How a Simple Practice Can Help Us Reduce Stress, Improve Performance, and Recapture the American Spirit and The Real Food Revolution: Healthy Eating, Green Groceries, and the Return of the American Family Farm. Ryan has a law degree from the University Of New Hampshire School of Law and a bachelor's degree from Bowling Green State University in Ohio. Born July 16, 1973 in Niles, Ohio, Tim Ryan currently resides in Howland, Ohio just outside of Youngstown with his wife Andrea and three children.
1. What qualities do you possess that qualify you for the job you are seeking?
I have a law degree from the New Hampshire School of Law and a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Bowling Green State University. I am currently serving my 9th term in the U.S. House of Representatives, where I sit on the House Appropriations Committee. This committee controls the expenditure of money by the federal government. On that Committee, I am the Ranking Member of the Legislative Branch Subcommittee, a member of the Defense Subcommittee, and a member of the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Subcommittee. I am the co-chair of the House Manufacturing Caucus, which examines and promotes policies to help American manufacturers like the ones in my district. I am also the co-chair of the Congressional Addiction, Treatment, and Recovery Caucus, which raises awareness of the dangers of drug addiction. In that role, I have advocated for more access to affordable drug treatment and diversion opportunities in lieu of incarcerating addicts. I have worked closely with local officials and community leaders to advance community projects that enhance the economic competitiveness of my district and help create high- quality, high paying jobs. I am also committed to making higher education more affordable, revitalizing America’s cities, and improving the health and well-being of American families and children.
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?
My primary focus has always been on improving the economy and quality-of-life here in Northeast Ohio. I work closely with local officials and community leaders to enhance economic competitiveness and help attract high-quality, high-paying jobs. I am known for challenging both parties to rebuild the middle class. I am a champion of efforts to make college more affordable, revitalize America’s cities, and improve the health and well-being of American families and children. Over the course of my career, I have brought back more than $600 million in federal funds for our community’s schools, businesses, and neighborhoods. This includes $63 million in pandemic relief funds to combat coronavirus, and $11 million to support firefighters and police, and $96 million to support jobs, economic development, and housing. I am proud to represent the Mahoning Valley and the Ohio 13th Congressional District, and if voters send me back to Washington, I promise to continue to fight every day to ensure that we bring jobs and resources back to our community.
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?
The American Dream is a dream of economic opportunity — that if you work hard, you can provide for your family and pass on a better life to your kids. Over the last 20 years, this dream has faded in places like the Mahoning Valley and blue-collar manufacturing towns across America. Globalization, bad trade deals, and automation have widened the gap between rich and poor and put the path to the middle class out of reach for far too many Americans. Finger pointing and empty promises will not bring back the jobs that have left. We must focus on the future of our economy and new opportunities for good-paying jobs. The American workforce stands ready to provide the skilled labor that the jobs of the future will require. Through smart policy and innovative public-private partnerships, we can ensure the Mahoning Valley is ready to fill the high-tech jobs that the defense, aerospace, additive manufacturing, and green energy sectors will create in the coming decades.
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?
My sincere belief is that our country will not succeed unless people of every race, ethnicity, religion, gender, and socioeconomic status have a seat at the table. That means making sure minority voices are heard and represented in my legislative priorities, but also supported by policies that make the American Dream just as accessible to them as anyone else. While there are many places where our system falls short, just one example would be the fact that a black baby born in Youngstown is more likely to die before the age of one than a baby born in Iran. Not only that, but black mothers—across all income and education levels—are 300 to 400% more likely to die from pregnancy and childbirth than white mothers. Our nation’s high infant and maternal mortality rates are unacceptable, but the racial disparity in these rates is shameful. It is wreaking havoc in minority communities and making it harder for minority children to have an equal start in life. In order to address this issue, I introduce the Healthy Start Reauthorization Act, a bill that would reauthorize the Healthy Start for Infants program for five years. Healthy Start has been at the forefront of the fight against infant mortality for over 25 years, ensuring that women and families in low-income communities get access to early prenatal care, postpartum home visiting, fatherhood education programs, and other high-quality services.
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 would make sure that voters are choosing the politicians who will represent them, not the other way around. We need real redistricting reform in Ohio. The way in which our congressional district lines are currently drawn has everything to do with the deeply partisan nature of our politics. This must end. Other states have already adopted measures to take redistricting out of the hands of elected officials, who often use map drawing as a way to disadvantage their opponents and diminish the voting power of those who don’t support them. The goal in Ohio must be to create a redistricting process that is non-partisan and make districts more representative of the communities within 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?
The coronavirus has tested our resolve, compassion for one another, innovation, and resourcefulness. Throughout this pandemic, Governor DeWine and I have been in frequent contact, and I believe he has stepped up to the plate during this crisis, taking difficult measures in order to ensure the public’s safety. These decisions have not been easy to make, but Governor DeWine has done his best to try to save lives and relieve stress on our health care system. But there is no question that we must do better. We have lost more than 200,000 American lives to this pandemic, and numbers are continuing to increase. We have to each continue to do our part: wearing our masks, washing our hands, keeping our distance as much as possible. Studies show that if 80% of Ohioans were to wear masks in public, we would see a massive reduction in the coronavirus. We in Congress, have no greater or more urgent responsibility than to deliver bold, effective relief to Americans in need. I was proud that we were able to pass four relief packages that President Trump signed into law which included $175 billion for the Provider Relief Fund for our hospitals, $1200 direct payments to individuals, the creation of the PPP program to help small businesses, money to further vaccine research and to expand our testing and tracing capabilities, and funds for our state and local governments. But I am disappointed that Senate Republicans and the White House refused to pass additional, much-needed relief, for the American people. The Democratic-led House of Representatives passed the Heroes Act in May and Heroes 2 in September, which expands earlier legislation by providing another round of cash payments of $1,200 for single taxpayers and $2,400 for joint filers, fixes some outstanding issues to allow assistance to be given for all claimed dependents, and restores the $600 federal unemployment payments through next January. Additionally, it gave money for state/local governments with the flexibility they need to support our first responders, police, fire, and teachers. These measures are all about putting money in the pockets of workers, helping them get through these difficult times. While this wasn’t a perfect bill, there was an urgent need to act to protect workers, families, and small business owners from irreparable harm. This health and economic crisis has continued to worsen and the needs of hard-working Americans have only continued to grow. But unfortunately, Senate Republicans and the White still haven’t acted on this much needed additional relief. I will continue to fight to ensure that we get the relief we need.
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 am extremely disappointed that enough hasn’t been done to provide the relief needed to our state and local governments that have seen a significant reduction in their tax revenue due to the economic impacts of the coronavirus. Our state and local governments are on the front lines of this crisis and desperately need an infusion of funds to pay the workers who keep us safe. Throughout this crisis, I have fought for forward-looking and transformational relief for all Americans who are feeling the brunt of this crisis. I was proud to have been able to help include $500 billion in the most recent Heroes Act for state and local governments who desperately need funds to cover lost revenue and to pay the health care workers, police, fire, transportation, EMS, teachers, and other vital workers who keep us safe and are in danger of losing their jobs. Unfortunately, Senate Republicans and the White House have not yet passed this legislation, but I will continue to fight to bring these much-needed funds to our state and local governments.
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 threat of global climate change is one of the most critical issues facing our world today. The science is clear that if greenhouse gas emissions continue to accelerate, we will see increased climate instability, including more frequent severe weather, rising sea levels, and irreversible losses to natural resources and wildlife. I believe we owe it to future generations of Americans to tackle this problem head-on by getting serious about reducing carbon emissions that threaten public health and welfare. We owe it to future generations of Ohioans and Americans to be good stewards of the earth’s resources. It is up to all of us to show leadership in the recognition of climate change as a real threat.
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?
Like most Americans, I am exhausted by the ever-increasing partisanship in this country. The only way we will be able to truly move our country forward is by setting aside our differences and finding common ground. This is more important now than ever as our nation combats this worldwide pandemic. I am proud of the strong relationships I have forged with my Republican colleagues and my long record of bipartisan work to bring federal dollars back to Ohio and provide our state with the support and resources we need. And this year, Georgetown University named me the second most bipartisan member of the Ohio Congressional Delegation and the 35th most bipartisan out of 435 members of the House of Representatives.
10. Who is your hero, and why?
I don’t know if he’s my hero or not, but I have a ton of respect for Baker Mayfield. He is someone who had to walk on twice to make college football teams, and continue to overcome adversity and prove his critics wrong time and time again. I think he’s a pretty good example and role model for our kids to learn how to develop that type of grit and resiliency.