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BGSU alumna to run for Ohio representative

When she first ran for the House of Representatives in 2004, Robin Weirauch, a BGSU graduate, found herself handily defeated at the hands of then 16-year incumbent Paul Gillmor (R).

Now, 10 months away from the Nov. 7 ballot, she’s ready to give the race for Ohio’s 5th District spot – the seat which covers Bowling Green – another shot. She is currently the unopposed Democratic nominee.

Weirauch, 49, was born in Dayton, and completed her master’s degree in Business Administration at the University in 1980. She described her work since then, including time as the University’s Center for Regional Development, as focused on local communities.

When pressed, she described herself as most often a “moderate liberal.”

But said she would rather shun those everyday political naming devices.

“We have so many labels for each other, and frankly I would rather label myself as someone with good old common sense as opposed to swinging [from one] end of the pendulum or not,” she said.

In 2004, during their first electoral tangle, Gillmor took home 67 percent of the total votes, including a 60 percent majority in Wood County, and 75 and 77 percent drudgings in Van Wert and Putnam counties, respectively.

Today, Weirauch chalks up the loss to her status as a first-time candidate.

“It takes time to build a reputation and get my name out there,” she said. “It’s to be expected that a job that’s important wouldn’t be so easy to win.”

She also recognizes the significant undertaking that is running for a second time.

“If I didn’t think that there were some chance that I could win, I wouldn’t put myself through this again,” she said. “It is a lot of hard work, but it’s also very rewarding.”

Weirauch accuses Gillmor, currently in his 18th year as Representative, of falling out of touch with the community, something she says most of her career to date has helped her with.

“The way I see it,” she said, “he has become disconnected from the voters, in terms of working alongside folks, being accessible to them, having sufficient time spent in the district to really let people get to know him.”

“I went back to school for a master’s degree in public administration based on my desire to work to improve local communities, particularly rural communities,” she said. “I’ve gotten to know people.”

Bradley Mascho, communications director for Gillmor, said although the representative has not officially declared himself a candidate for November, he will run again “on his record.”

“He’s proud of his fiscal record,” Mascho said, “of not only the money that he’s able to bring back to the 5th District but being conservative and holding off spending in Congress, while keeping programs funded.”

At the time of the interview, Mascho said he wasn’t aware of Weirauch’s platform. He could not be contacted for later comment in time for this article.

Politically, Weirauch lists Abraham Lincoln and former presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton as her ideological idols, of sorts, often describing their work using the same words she used to describe her own.

“[Carter and Clinton] focused so much so, again, on the needs of people, improving the quality of life for folks,” she said, “paving the way so that folks can reach their full potential.”

Weirauch seems to have the same frame of mind when it comes to politics circa 2006.

She often described her stance toward issues like minimum wage and education as revolving around the need for workers and families to be able to “get ahead.”

On minimum wage, she called it a “moral responsibility” to “raise the minimum wage to a level that a person [or] a family can work a full time job and not be living in poverty.”

On energy: “It’s a very, very important issue of us weaning ourselves off of fossil fuels and … putting that good old American ingenuity to work.”

“In northwest Ohio we’ve got a lot of resources at our fingertips,” she said.

“We could have new economy,” she said. “if we put our minds to it.”

Weirauch also stressed the importance of education in improving worker skills and ensuring that businesses will remain in the region and the country over the next generation.

When it comes to the high cost of education, she said that government has “to invest directly into our people.”

Before coming up with concrete solutions, however, she said that officials need to find the “root problem,” rather than “making political decisions like No Child Left Behind that sound good.”

But she insisted on singling out Gillmor’s support of “huge tax cuts.”

“That money is much better invested in our young people and the future of education,” Weirauch said. “The trickle-down business isn’t working, and we have to recognize that.”

Weirauch has made her history in the 5th District – and not in Washington – a central part of her campaign as one aspect she hopes voters find appealing.

“I’m not a professional politician,” she said. “I’m a person who was raised in this community and I’m a person who has committed her blood, sweat and tears, literally, to this area,” imitating nearly word for word the biographical information on her campaign Web site.

Weirauch said that even as a politician, she’s not “seeking political power” or the “big dollars” she said drive Washington politics today.

But she realizes that it might be difficult to keep that position while gaining a significant position within the party.

“A representative has to gain a certain amount of political clout, if you will … to be able to sway things the way you want,” she said. “Hopefully you can do that by doing the job well, not by finding huge, larger and larger sources of money.

“No one person can go in and change the whole system, okay? But we can resist the old ways [and] the money interests having so much power,” she said.

Dealing with certain social issues, Weirauch was hesitant to come down in a firm ideological spot, owing, she said, to the “strange wording” that often comes with government bills.

On gay marriage, she said that the issue “boils down [to] civil rights.”

“My measuring stick is, does the particular bill that comes before me protect or promote civil rights, and if it doesn’t, it’s not one I can support,” she said. She listed taxes and emergency room visitation as two examples of the civil rights she focuses on.

She is also willing to allow abortion in certain situations.

“Let’s just agree that we’d all want to see the number of abortions reduced,” she said, but that while abortion is sometimes necessary, “we have to ensure that a safe medical procedure is available to women.”

She also said intelligent design was not scientific and should not be taught in public school biology classes.

“We need to keep science in school and religion in church,” she said.

She wouldn’t yet take a stance on teaching intelligent design in a separate class.

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