From The Vaults

Republican Jim Butler, OHD-41, Likes Idea Of “Lincoln Douglas” Debates With Democratic Challenger

Jim Butler, Representative for OHD-41. I failed to get a picture today, so I took this from Mr. Butler's web-site.

This is democracy at work. About twelve citizens, out of a possible crowd of 79,000 voters in this district, attended an informal meeting today at the Oakwood Library with Republican Jim Butler, their representative for Ohio House District 41. Butler responded to questions from the entire group for 50 minutes, or so, and afterward, met privately with individuals who chose to do so.

I asked Butler if he would be willing to do “Lincoln Douglas” type debates with his Democratic challenger, Caroline Gentry, and he answered, “Sure.” Wow. Gentry and Butler are both attorneys and both are residents of Oakwood. Butler said he recently had coffee with Gentry and thinks highly of her.

This may be a great year for citizens in OHD-41. Two excellent, articulate candidates, both thoughtful individuals with impressive credentials, both, I believe, well meaning and seeking to do what is best for Ohio, may actually conduct a campaign that will elevate our political discourse and cause thoughtful participation by voters. It would be a great compliment to the citizens of OHD-41 if “Lincoln Douglas” type debates between Gentry and Butler would actually happen.

Butler has been in the Ohio House for one year, appointed to his position by the Republican Party after John Husted was elected Secretary of State and the representative for this district, Peggy Lehner, replaced Husted in the Ohio Senate, leaving her seat in the Ohio House open. This is Butler’s first election.

As I left the meeting today, I praised Butler for his demeanor and openness. Butler, a graduate of the Naval Academy, creates a good rapport with his constituents and shows a positive attitude. It’s just too bad he votes with the Republican caucus.

The meeting started with one member of the group asking Butler to explain his priorities as representative. Butler indicated that he sees his first priority as advancing public policies that will make Ohio more competitive in attracting and growing businesses and growing jobs. He spoke positively about how Ohio’s system has been made more business friendly via the “Jobs Ohio” legislation, and added that he wants to make sure that there are “guard rails” to make sure “Jobs Ohio” works as it was intended to work. He spoke with pride at how Ohio’s $8 billion budget gap was closed without raising taxes, and, how, in fact, because of action of the Assembly, taxes for Ohioans were reduced. He said he particularly was proud that the Assembly voted to end Ohio’s inheritance tax.

In response to my question, Butler said he personally would like to see Ohio follow Indiana’s lead and pass “Right To Work” legislation, but that he agrees with Governor Kasich that the time is not right to pass such legislation now. (At a recent press conference, Kasich said, about “Right to Work,” speaking about the repeal of SB-5, “If you’re going to bring about massive change, that’s going to cause great unrest – I mean, I’ve learned this – is you’ve got to prepare the way.”)

New legislation that Butler hopes the Assembly will agree to pass includes a law he is writing, and will soon present, to empower Ohio prisons to create manufacturing facilities. This new law would allow prisons to employ eligible prisoners, on a voluntary basis, to work for 40 hours each week. Butler says such manufacturing would not compete with American workers, because the prison population would make products that currently are made in foreign countries. Butler says this manufacturing would create profit for the state and would create a savings account for prisoners — money that will be available to them on their release. He proposes that prisoners would work for 25 cents to 50 cents per hour, and says such work would prepare prisoners to reenter society as productive citizens.

Butler said he has refused to sign the Grover Norquist’s “Taxpayer Protection Pledge” to oppose all tax increases, but that about 26 members of the Ohio House have signed the pledge and that Governor Kasich has signed the pledge as well. I’d like to know more about Butler’s thinking about this issue, but didn’t pursue asking a follow-up question.

I asked Butler about his vote, as a member of the House Education Committee, to support legislation (HB136) that would subtract money from public schools and use that money to fund vouchers to pay for private school tuition. Butler said that this legislation is being rewritten and that the new version addresses some objections raised to the original bill. The new version will reduce the number of students who will be eligible to receive such vouchers to only 1% of the student population of any district, will reduce the size of each voucher, and will finance the vouchers with state funds allocated to local schools, not funds generated by local taxes. He said, with the new formula, the new legislation would mean that Oakwood Schools would lose only about $40,000 in revenue each year.

Over 90% of Ohio private schools are religious schools. I told Butler that I was amazed that legislators who consider themselves “conservative” would advance legislation to empower coercive taxation to fund religious education.

He offered a lame excuse, the same excuse offered by the courts who have approved Cleveland’s voucher program, that, in the voucher program, tax money is not paid to religious schools directly, but, instead, is paid to parents of children. Parents, in turn, pay the religious schools. I asked if he had read the mission statement of a private school that clearly reveals that one central purpose of the school is coercive religious indoctrination. I said I was surprised that, as a conservative, he would abandon the constitutional principle of the separation of church and state.

Then, I said, I would get off my soap box.

In my brief private meeting with Butler, I told him about my Deming inspired thoughts that public education needs transformation and that the basis for such transformation is creating a new system — one based on free market and entrepreneurial principles and one based on local control — centered on accomplishing a much more profound aim than what directs the current system. I said the House Education Committee should research how local systems, particularly those now deemed “excellent,” might be incentivized to attempt this hard process of transformation.

Mr. Butler is an engaged listener and had some insightful comments in response to my POV about public education. He promised that sometime soon we would meet again for more discussion.

For the twelve of us in attendance, it was a good meeting.



8 comments to Republican Jim Butler, OHD-41, Likes Idea Of “Lincoln Douglas” Debates With Democratic Challenger

  • Eric

    Two excellent, articulate candidates, both thoughtful individuals with impressive credentials … Butler, a graduate of the Naval Academy, creates a good rapport with his constituents and shows a positive attitude. It’s just too bad he votes with the Republican caucus.

    Aw shucks, Mike. If all Ohio politicians voted with the Democrats, we would need the United Nations to end the human rights abuses in our public schools.

    Seriously. Are there Democrats at any level prepared to fix the mess Governor Strickland and President Obama have made? What part of the “rule of law” don’t your fellow travelers understand?

  • Mike Bock

    Eric, before I can attempt to dialogue with you about “human rights abuses in our public schools,” and who might be responsible for these abuses, I need to have a clue as to what you are talking about. And when you write about “the mess Governor Strickland and President Obama have made,” or imply that Democrats are reckless in following a “rule of law,” again, I’d be glad to attempt a thoughtful analysis but you first must give me some information to work with. Why not write a detailed article, spelling out the evidence for your accusations on these topics, post it on this web-site and invite discussion?

  • fred schindler

    Good article.Mr Butler did not discuss his ideas for unwanted pregnancies I assume.
    Mr Butler does not believe in any abortion even if caused by rape or incest.He is against womens right to choose and supports “surrogate wombs to bring forth unwanted
    pregnancies. He did not say who would provide the surrogate service.

  • Mike Bock

    Fred, Thanks for the information. I wasn’t aware that Mr. Butler has such extreme views on abortion. In this meeting, nobody asked Mr. Butler about his stand on abortion. I would like to hear his response to such a question.

  • fred schindler

    Rep Butler made his birth surrogate ideas known at his prior visit to Wright Library . Most of those in attendence were quite appalled.

  • Bryan

    Fred, I fear that you are misrepresenting Representative Butler’s position.  For 40 years the two sides of this issue have been going back and forth with the same positions and rhetoric…a woman’s right to choose not to have to be pregnant on the one side and the protection of unborn children on the other.  This dialogue has not progressed one bit in those forty years and it won’t under current conditions.  Both sides to this argument have deeply held beliefs that are not going to change no matter how persuasive the arguments from the other side may be.  It is a highly emotional debate that time has shown can not be won by either side.  Under these conditions, we  are left with the possibility of two choices.  The first is that we can continue treading water and without any hope of ever reaching a shore, leaving us with a continually more polarized and vitriolic society or we can attempt to find a consensus in which all sides can still hold true to their beliefs, leaving us resources and energy to focus on other pressing matters in our nation.   I think the latter option is a much more valiant and productive approach. Jim Butler does not advocate for surrogate wombs in the manner in which you described them.  Rather Jim advocates for redirecting resources to develop artificial means of bringing unborn children to term.  This is no different than the incubators in which we currently place infants who are born prematurely.  It simply seeks to push the point where a fetus is viable as close to the point of conception as is possible by using technology.  Just one generation ago, a baby born at 4 or 5 months was almost assured to die before leaving the hospital.  Today they stay in the NICU in what is essentially an artificial womb until they can live on their own.  Since invented around the turn of the last century, these devices have improved exponentially and no doubt will continue to do so.  Increasing funding to help perfect these machines would be a noble goal and money well invested.  I see nothing exceptionally politically radical about this.  If both sides are being honest in their positions that either support or condemn terminating pregnancies, than this solution is congruent with those positions and fulfills the needs of both sides.  Those in the Pro-choice camp would be protecting the right of a woman to choose not to be pregnant and those in the Pro-life camp would no longer have to worry about pregnancies being terminated through abortion.  The woman could choose to end ‘her’ pregnancy without ending the life of the fetus.  This is a win win for both sides.  

  • Eric

    How are Butler’s views (rather, alleged views) on abortion more extreme than Obama’s views on infants born alive during abortions? Here’s what was at stake in Illinois:

    “… I cradled and rocked him for the 45 minutes that he lived. He was 21 to 22 weeks old, weighed about ½ pound, and was about 10 inches long. He was too weak to move very much, expending any energy he had trying to breathe. Toward the end he was so quiet that I couldn’t tell if he was still alive unless I held him up to the light to see if his heart was still beating through his chest wall. After he was pronounced dead, we folded his little arms across his chest, wrapped him in a tiny shroud, and carried him to the hospital morgue where all of our dead patients are taken.”

    Here’s the record of Obama’s deliberate misstatements:

  • Eric

    “human rights abuses in our public schools,” … I need to have a clue … I’d be glad to attempt a thoughtful analysis but you first must give me some information to work with.


    If Secretary Clinton has provided insufficient information for your consideration, see:

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