BUTLER COUNTY — The Democratic candidate for Ohio auditor says people have “rightfully lost confidence and faith” in the political process and government — and “the insidious impact of money on policy is something the auditor is in position to call out.”
“The most important difference between me and everybody else is that I’m really focused on one issue, one general issue and it has to do with process,” said candidate Zack Space in an exclusive interview with the Journal-News.
Space said when people lose faith and confidence in the democratic process, “they are more likely to turn to authoritarian figures, and to do things we may not like the end result of.”
“The sad truth is, they are justified in many cases for losing faith in the first place because the process places too much emphasis on money,” said the Eastern Ohio rural Democrat facing Ohio Rep. Keith Faber, a Mercer County Republican.
Space and Faber will face off in the Nov. 6 general election for Ohio auditor, and the winner will replace term-limited Ohio Auditor Dave Yost, who’s running for Ohio Attorney General. The Journal-News has extended an offer to Faber’s campaign for a one-on-one interview.
Space is aiming to be the first Democrat to serve as Ohio auditor since Thomas Ferguson left the office in 1995, and the former Ohio congressman says he can win because he’s different from not just Democrats but any other candidate for office.
He believes that political contributions have often dictated policy, and gerrymandering is “essentially putting partisan political actors above their constituents when they draw these lines.”
“These two things alone have caused an erosion of faith int he process. I think that’s a dangerous development, and these are fixable issues, and I’m committed to using the office of the auditor to help restore faith in the process,” he said.
The 57-year-old from Dover, Ohio, said his message isn’t the only the thing that sets him a part from his election rival this November. “It’s also my demographics,” he said.
Space is from Appalachia Ohio, was the city of Dover law director and two-term congressman representing the now defunct 18th Ohio Congressional District. While in Congress, Space was a member of the conservative Blue Dog Democrat Coalition and helped to bring $100 million in fiber optic cables to rural eastern Ohio and fund telemedicine projects that allowed doctors in Columbus to examine, evaluate and treat people in southern Ohio remotely and affordable.
Space also said he’s one of the few Democrats that believe in hydraulic fracturing.
“It can be done safely and environmentally soundly, and create enormous economic benefits — not just in the region, but the entire state,” he said.
In addition to conducting a performance audit of the auditor’s office, if elected, Space said he wants to shine a light on the so-called pay-to-play in state politics, adding that the process of running the government “has become very transactional and has allowed pay-to-play dominate how policy gets done.”
That’s alleged to have happened with the payday lending legislation pushed by former Ohio speaker Cliff Rosenberger and eventually forced him to resign earlier this year. Space also said pay-to-play “continues to take local government funds from communities around the state and use those moneys to fund income tax reductions that benefit primarily wealthy donors.”
“I think you can find the fingerprints of pay-to-play in every policy that’s significant in this state, and it’s offensive and it has to stop,” he said.