Sen. Frank LaRose highlights issues he’d focus on if elected as secretary of state

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AKRON, Ohio – State Sen. Frank LaRose, R-Hudson, believes strongly in two things: free elections and a free market.

One was inspired by his work in the military, the other by his family who immigrated to the U.S. a century ago to start a business — and both are vital values to the secretary of state, a position LaRose is running for in November.

LaRose spoke Monday about the upcoming election to about 75 people at a lunchtime gathering of the Akron Press Club at the Tangier.

His wife, Lauren, sat nearby as LaRose outlined the bipartisan efforts he’s made as a state legislator and those he’ll continue making if elected as secretary of state.

“I’ve been surprised in some experiences by how tribal things are in government … Too many of my colleagues view themselves as a member of the elephant tribe or the donkey tribe, and everything begins and ends from that conversation,” LaRose said. “That’s not the way I approach things. I’m a proud Republican, my viewpoint is one of conservatism, but I also believe statesmen and -women solve problems by compromising.”

The Democratic candidate for secretary of state, Kathleen Clyde, will also give a talk at an Akron Press Club luncheon at Tangier on April 9.

LaRose, 38, was elected to the Ohio Senate in 2010 and re-elected in 2014. He represents Ohio’s 27th Senate District, which includes all of Wayne County and portions of Summit and Stark counties.

In his time in office, LaRose said he has worked to reduce the cost to start new businesses in the state and bring online voter registration to Ohio. More recently, LaRose proposed funding $114.5 million to upgrade Ohio’s aging voting machines.

One of his greatest accomplishments, he said, was establishing the framework for a bipartisan plan to reform congressional map drawing, which will be on the ballot for voters to decide in May.

Those experiences lay the groundwork for what LaRose says he intends to focus on if elected: supporting small businesses, modernizing and protecting the election process and bringing civility back to politics.

Early experiences

LaRose’s political career has been shaped in part by his experience in the U.S. Army, serving in the 101st Airborne Division and later in the Special Forces, he said.

In Iraq, as LaRose wrote occasional excerpts to publish in the Beacon Journal from his tour in Kosovo, he said he witnessed a mass of people voting for the first time — not because they were of age, but because they didn’t have the freedom to do so until the first national election in 2005.

Even though terrorist forces there threatened to cut the fingers off of people who had voted, the turnout was still more than 70 percent, he said.

“These people defied death and defied dismemberment because they recognize something that too many of us have started to take for granted: that the difference between a citizen and a subject is the ability to vote,” LaRose said.

Future roles

It’s the kind of energy LaRose hopes to build around voting in Ohio, where voter turnout was under 30 percent in the 2017 election.

LaRose said he also hopes to restore the integrity of elections by balancing the issues of voter fraud and voter turnout in a civil and bipartisan manner.

“I think that there’s one party that tends to overstate the existence of fraud, and there’s one party that tends to overstate the existence of suppression,” LaRose said. “Both of these are serious issues, and even one instance of either is one too many.”

Other issues

LaRose said he also intends to support entrepreneurship and help small businesses grow. His family members were small-business owners, starting the House of LaRose beverage distribution company in the late 1930s.

During the question-and-answer period following his speech, attendees asked LaRose about his views on President Donald Trump, among other subjects.

He said that even though he “tends to take a more civil, Midwesterner approach” to politics than the president, he’d still welcome support from Trump.

Originally written by Theresa Cottom for the Akron Beacon Journal. Read original article here

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