By Edd Pritchard
Candidates for the 16th Congressional District are banking on the economy being on the minds of voters.
State Sen. John Boccieri, D-Alliance, is talking about the economy during "backyard discussions" with residents around the district. State Sen. Kirk Schuring, R-Jackson Township, cited the economy as he unveiled his plan for jobs and families during a meeting at Wooster Brush Co.
Boccieri and Schuring are hoping to replace U.S. Rep. Ralph Regula, R-Bethlehem Township, who will leave Congress at the end of this year after 38 years in office. They face off in the Nov. 4 election.
About 20 invited guests were on hand Thursday afternoon at Wooster Brush to hear Schuring introduce his jobs plan. Most represented businesses or development groups in the district, which covers all of Stark and Wayne counties and parts of Ashland and Medina counties.
The two-pronged proposal calls for creating a level playing field for global competition and providing American businesses with "tools for success."
Tax, tort and regulatory reform are part of efforts to level the playing field. Schuring also suggests using free-market principles to give consumers choices and help make health care more affordable. The changes will help American companies compete in the global market, Schuring said.
A call to achieve energy independence is part of the tools for success portion of the plan. Doing that means allowing more offshore drilling and drilling in the Arctic, which mirrors the national Republican Party line. He also wants to encourage investment in wind, solar, clean coal and nuclear power as alternative energy sources.
Schuring urges creating economic empowerment zones and improving the nation's transportation system.
"This plan, in my opinion, is rooted in common sense," Schuring told his audience. "It's not a plan from Washington. It's not a plan from bureaucrats. It's a plan from people in this district."
Trade issues, health care, affordable education and pensions are usually topics when Boccieri meets with residents during his jobs and economy backyard discussions.
So far, he's visited with residents in Canton, Massillon and Wooster. The first was held at the home of Kim Perez, Stark County auditor. Participants have shared dinner, then shared their stories, spokesman Bryan Collinsworth said.
Most discussions have focused on trade issues, Collinsworth said. Residents have suggested some trade agreements need to be reworked to help protect jobs in the United States. New agreements should be written to help create jobs.
Boccieri also visited with customers at a gasoline station in Medina.
Where there are voters, there will be candidates.
Both candidates are taking advantage of the festivals and fairs held around the district.
They participated in a variety of Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Festival events during the past week. The candidates also found their way to other events around the district, including the Medina County Fair and an Italian Festival on Friday night in Wooster.