Stobbs, Spisak trying to unseat Wilson in 6th

Published 10:04 am Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A one-time sheriff is taking his case to the people one town at a time as he fights to keep longtime politician Charlie Wilson from a second term in Congress.

This is the second time Richard “Dick” Stobbs has made a run for the 6th Congressional seat. Two years ago he tried to get the Republican party’s nod in a four-candidate primary race. While he lost that bid, he took in almost 12 percent of the vote after running a shoestring campaign of $1,200 spent in three months.

That inspired him to try again this November as Wilson, a statehouse veteran, campaigns for another term in Washington.

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“I go around to all the counties and all the dinners,” Stobbs said. “I am a private citizen running on the Republican ticket. I am on my own. The big hang up is money. We have relied on grass roots since January 2006. I have 90,000 miles on my car. It is a long shot against a well-funded opponent.”

Stobbs was Belmont County sheriff from 1981-1985, then spent 13 years with the U.S. Department of Justice working in criminal justice funding. The most prominent assignment was with the McGruff anti-crime program. He has an associate degree in law enforcement from Jefferson Community College, a bachelor’s of administration from Ohio University and a master of science in administration from Central Michigan University.

“I have had a lifetime of public service, 4-H, volunteer firefighter, Jaycees,” he said. “I have lived in the district all my life. I have had several different jobs. I know the people, know the issues. Being elected sheriff is a good foundation. You know people, their needs.”

Stobbs sees jobs as a critical issue and wants to set up what he calls a 6th District Jobs Action Team made up of local farmers, members of area chambers of commerce, clergy, veterans and concerned citizens.

“Take all these resources and bring them together with the jobs actions teams. Track down CEOs and business leaders and bring them to the district and meet with the team,” Stobbs said.” We have the people, the river, coal and convince them to build a new business.”

Stobbs lists endorsement by Tom White, 18th Secretary of the Army, Col. Tom Moe, chairman of the Ohio Veterans for McCain, and Ohioans for Concealed Carry Ohio Gun Collectors Association.

Wilson agrees new employment opportunities is a major campaign issue but counters that jobs are already coming to the district.

“Jobs are the key and I am very proud of what we have been able to accomplish. You don’t turn this overnight,” he said. “We have a new power plant proposed to be built in Meigs County. SunCoke (in Scioto County) has doubled their size from 150 to 300. There is the possibility of getting the Russian steel maker (also in Scioto County).”

Like Stobbs, Wilson has traveled his district getting his message of experience out to the constituents.

“I have the subjects to talk about,” he said citing years a businessman, a board member of the Belmont National Bank,10 years in the Ohio House and Senate and currently a member of the Congressional House Committee on Financial Services.

“I was very much part of the influential vote on the financial rescue package,” he said. “I was one of the ones who understood very quickly what was going on. … The massive deregulation that this administration (allowed) and the lack of oversight. It should be no surprise to anyone.

“It is so big and so massive. There is not any one solution. It’s a combination of things,” he said. “I voted for the financial rescue package. It is the first step. We have to be able to stabilize our economy.”

Wilson also cites legislation he backed that restored physician payment rates allowing seniors to stay with their own doctors. He sees getting health care for the 47 million in the country without insurance as another issue facing the next Congress.

“I have the experience of 10 years in the legislature, the experience of two years in Congress. I know what the issues are. I sit on the financial services committee,” he said asking voters to look at Stobbs and himself and “compare us.”

Dennis Spisak, a Green Party candidate from Struthers, is also running for the seat.

Spisak is a 23-year educator and a principal at Brookfield Middle School in Trumbull County.

His platform focuses on alternative clean energy for Ohio.