(Editor’s note: This story previews the election between incumbent Bill Dean and challenger James Harvey Duffee. We reached out to both candidates and did not hear back from Dean by press time. This story will be updated as needed at xeniagazette.com.)
XENIA — Bill Dean is being challenged by political newcomer Dr. James Harvey Duffee to represent District 71 in the Ohio House of Representatives.
Dean currently represents District 74, which covers portions of Greene, Clark, and Madison counties including Cedarville, Xenia, Jamestown, Spring Valley, London, and West Jefferson.
Due to redistricting, the winner in Tuesday’s election will represent District 71. The new district drops Madison County and adds Yellow Springs, Clifton, Clinton County and the southern part of Clark County including Enon but not Springfield.
Dean, a long-time Xenia resident, was appointed to fill Bob Hackett’s unexpired term on April 12, 2016 and has won re-election every election since. Due to term limits, this is the last consecutive term Dean can serve.
Duffee, who lives just north of the Greene County line, said he has myriad reasons for running for office. Among them are reproductive rights, fair district maps, and advocating for responsible gun ownership.
The Clark County resident said he has a granddaughter at Wright State University and wants her to “have the same rights that her grandmother and her mother had as she enters child-bearing years.”
Duffee said Roe vs. Wade “got it right” with the decision that full citizenship and human rights begin at first breath.
As a pediatrician, he said is especially interested in the last trimester of a pregnancy, during which most abortions performed are not “out of convenience.”
“The vast majority of abortions in the third trimester and late are crises that involve either the life of the mother or a fetus or a preborn human, malformed due to chromosomes or developmental malformation,” Duffee said. “They’re medical emergencies. Doctors should not have to look over their shoulder to attorneys to see if it’s OK to save a person’s life.”
He added that the majority of Ohioans believe that abortion should be legal and that the government shouldn’t be making decisions.
Regarding gun ownership, Duffee said most people want their kids to be safe in school and on the street and those in favor of gun legislation aren’t trying to take guns away.
“The majority of Ohioans want background checks, requirements for licensure, and they want red flag laws,” Duffee said. “That polling is consistent. I think we need to start there. That was in the governor’s original bill. We need to keep pushing for those things. We have a second amendment that allows for private ownership of guns and nobody is questioning that. We just want responsible gun ownership.”
Duffee said kindergarten teachers shouldn’t be armed with glocks in order to protect kids from “a young man with body armor and an assault-type rifle.” He added that among 18-24 year olds, gun violence is the No. 1 cause of death — both homicide and suicide.
He called the redistricting crisis “more of a scandal” and added that elected officials are not listening to the will of the people by gerrymandering the state into a supermajority.
Duffee is also in favor of fully funding public schools before tax money goes to charter schools and that those schools need to be held accountable academically and fiscally.
“Ohio has not had a constitutional school funding plan since 1997,” Duffee said.