Election 2012: Szollosi and Kissinger tout education, health careWritten by Brigitta Burks | News Editor | BBurks@toledofreepress.com
The two men running to represent the 46th District, state Rep. Matt Szollosi and Dave Kissinger, said the economy and education are intertwined.
“I consider them to be very closely interrelated because the public education system in this state is what produces the workers for tomorrow and if we don’t have a proper education system and respectable workforce then all of our efforts to create jobs will fail,” said Szollosi, a Democrat running for his fourth term in the Ohio House.
“When we talk about jobs and the economy, we have to talk about education,” said Republican Kissinger, a first-time candidate and regional vice president at maxIT Healthcare.
District 46 includes parts of Jerusalem Township, Springfield Township, Oregon, Toledo and Maumee.
Both men said their experience — political in Szollosi’s case and in the health care field in Kissinger’s — qualifies them.
Szollosi’s family members have been longtime players in the Northwest Ohio political scene. His grandfather was a county commissioner, his parents were Oregon city council members and his brother Frank was a Toledo city councilman.
“I was the one who swore I’d never get involved in politics,” Szollosi said and chuckled. “It was recommended to me that I should and I was intrigued by it; I’ll admit that I was.”
Szollosi received his bachelor’s and law degrees from the University of Toledo. He specializes in construction litigation at D’Angelo & Szollosi Co. in Downtown Toledo.
After the political bug bit him, Szollosi served on Oregon City Council from 1999-2006. In 2006, he was elected as state representative for District 49 (which was redistricted in 2012).
The assistant house minority leader said if he were re-elected, he would like to restore some of the more than $2 billion cut from education as a result of House Bill 153, adding that he opposed the bill.
The projected budget surplus could be used to restore those funds and toward worker training and job creation efforts, Szollosi said.
“I can assure you, there are going to be a lot of differences of opinion on what to do with that budget surplus,” he noted.
Szollosi also counted working with the budget as one of his greatest accomplishments in office.
“The operating budget is always one of, if not the most monumental task, in the two-year period,” he said.
“I also spent a good deal of time on rewriting jury service law, not the most exciting topic but one that is obviously very important to the legal system.”
The new law modernizes the language and removes certain provisions.
“The legal system and our court system are of a fair amount of importance to the state,” Szollosi said. “A lot of the heavy lifting is done on things that don’t catch a lot of headlines.”
Szollosi said he is also interested in the Natural Gas Vehicle Initiative, which seeks to expand Ohio’s use of natural-gas vehicles.
“I’m trying to learn as much as I can about that,” Szollosi said, adding that the initiative is still in its early stages.
This campaign marks Kissinger’s first foray into politics. Kissinger, a registered nurse, served in the U.S. Navy from 1990-96.
Kissinger’s health care experience will help him if elected, he said.
“My background is in the health care field and health care is a huge part of our state budget and I’ve seen the challenges that our parties face,” he said.
“There’s a high level of cost that is coming into our state and we need to make sure we are doing the right things by patients.”
Kissinger recommended making the health care compensation model an outcome-based one.
“When we talk about health care, we have to make sure that the compensation model is one that’s sustainable. Instead of just asking health care providers to deliver services, we should expect to improve the outcome,” he said.
“I’m a strong proponent of the competitive marketplace. I really believe that competition is a very good thing,” he said. “When you’re competing with other businesses for someone’s dollars, you work harder; you strive to provide the services.”
That philosophy extends to education. Kissinger said he believes parents should have more choice in where their children attend school.
“I believe the more choices and options the parents have to decide where students go to school, the better the education will be,” he said. Kissinger also advocated for more themed schools, where students could study particular interests.
Kissinger also said he would finish out his term if elected.
“I’m completely and totally committed to serving my full term. I won’t be running for other offices in this two-year period,” he said. “I believe that’s very important.”