Four vie for Republican nomination to Ohio 80th

By Cecilia Fox -





MIAMI COUNTY — Four Republican candidates are seeking the Republican nomination to the Ohio 80th House District in the May primary election.

Miami County Commissioner John “Bud” O’Brien, attorney George Lovett, business owner Jena Powell, and merchandising manager J.D. Winteregg are running for a chance to represent the Ohio 80th House District in Columbus next year.

The winner will run against Democratic write-in candidate Scott Zimmerman of Troy in November.

The 80th District includes all of Miami County and part of Darke County. It is currently represented by Rep. Stephen Huffman, who is running for State Senate.

The following are the candidates’ responses to a questionnaire sent out by the Troy Daily News. The responses have been edited for length.

• George Lovett

Family: Daughter, Beatrice, age 23

Occupation: Businessman/Attorney

Previous political experience: Tipp City Mayor (2006-2007) and member of council (2004-2011)

Qualifications: I am the only candidate who has proven business, government, and non-profit experience. My parents’ bait store and gun shop taught me how to work hard. I was eight years old when I started working there. I sold minnows and worms to pay my way through college and have owned firearms since before I had a drivers’ license. I have built a successful law firm with nine employees and four offices. I know how to make a payroll and create good paying jobs. I have served on over a dozen non-profit boards to make our community a better place to live and work. My public service includes eight years on Tipp City Council, two of those years as mayor. I know how government works and can be productive in the statehouse from the very first day.

Reason for seeking office/What do you see as the greatest need to be addressed:

We are losing 14 Ohioans every day to drug overdoses. Protecting life (I’m endorsed by the Ohio Right to Life PAC), preserving our second amendment rights, and working hard to make government smaller and bring our tax bills down are important, but trying to stop these deaths needs to be our top priority.

On the Tri-County Board of Recovery and Mental Health we have an initiative called One Wellness Place. This will put under one roof the services that addicts need and is projected to save over $200,000 a year in operating costs. If this model works well here, then I hope we can use it statewide. We have raised over $1 million in private donations towards this public/private partnership. It will be a better treatment model and save taxpayer money doing it. This is the type of conservative, creative, and cost saving problem solving I want to do in Columbus.

• John W. “Bud” O’Brien

Family: Married to Kim O’Brien for 32 years. We have three adult children, John, age 29, Melanie, age 27, and Joey, age 26. We also have a new daughter-in-law, Joey’s wife, Emily.

Occupation: I’m in my third term as Miami County Commissioner

Previous political experience: Currently in my 3rd term as Miami County Commissioner, prior to commissioner I was the Miami County Recorder 11 years, current Chairman Miami County Republican Party 18 years

Qualifications: In my 12 years as county commissioner, I’ve practiced fiscal conservatism in good times and bad. When we were hit by the recession we didn’t raise taxes to balance the budget, we cut $4 million maintaining the lowest sales tax rate in the area. Under my leadership we combined four departments into one, saving tax payer dollars, creating efficiencies and improving the delivery of services to our citizens. We upgraded the 911 system for less than half the original $30 million dollar estimate. As the local economy improved we’ve invested in smart technology in our building systems resulting in over 25 percent reduction in our utility usage.

As a county commissioner, we work on a wide range of issues with diverse circumstances every day. In my time as a commissioner I’ve worked on economic development, road and bridges, 911 communications, zoning and annexations, our courts and law enforcement. I am the only candidate who has the breadth of knowledge to be effective from day one.

Reason for seeking office: This district has a history of electing people who have a track record of conservative accomplishments. I believe in lower taxes, shrinking government, locally controlled schools and protecting our freedoms. No other candidate in this election has the experience and conservative track record that I possess.

As a former business owner I know what government regulations and red tape do to the bottom line. As a county commissioner, I know how to develop and balance a budget in good times and bad without raising taxes and how to make government more efficient. As a husband of a public elementary teacher and a father of three successful children, I’ve experienced the many changes our education system in Ohio has seen over the last three decades and have the resources and contacts to improve our schools’ ability to educate. Lastly, I believe I’m ready to go to Columbus and be an effective voice for the citizens of the 80th District.

Goals for office if elected:

1. Improving our economy is first. We need to make Ohio more competitive by offering lower taxes, eliminate job killing regulations, right to work legislation needs to be passed or put on the ballot, reform our antiquated worker’s compensation system and make significant improvements in workforce development so we can fill our current open positions and add to our available workforce.

2. We must give more control to our local school districts. Too many decisions are made by Columbus bureaucrats who use cookie cutter solutions for the entire state. This has to stop. Let our local educators, school boards and parents make strategic decisions on how to prepare our students to meet the world’s challenges.

3. Over the last eight years the state has taken local control away from local government and sent it to Columbus. As a state representative I will fight this mindset and make sure local governments have a voice so they can serve their citizens.

4. The opioid crisis has to be attacked on three levels: education in our schools, aggressive law enforcement and programing through local mental health and recovery councils for those who are effected by addiction. When in Columbus, I will make sure we stay focused on all three levels so we can keep people from using, arrest those who break our drug laws and help those who are affected by the crisis.

What do you see as the greatest need to be addressed: We need to focus on bringing good jobs to the area and improve our workforce development programs so we can fill the jobs that are available today and the jobs of tomorrow.

We need to make Ohio more competitive economically and attractive to people looking for good paying jobs. To do this we need to shrink state government, lower taxes, cut job killing regulations, reform Ohio’s worker’s compensation system and pass or put on the ballot Right to Work Legislation.

• Jena Powell

Occupation: Business owner

Previous political experience: None

Qualifications: Business Owner

Reason for seeking office: I am running for office because I believe that I can represent the values and interest of our district well. I have chosen to build my life here, I knew I needed to run as I watched many of my friends decide that more opportunity awaits them elsewhere. We need to fight against government overreach which effects each and every one of us. Over regulation and too high of taxes stifle innovation and competition. An oversized government doesn’t lift its people up, it suppresses them. I will fight to reduce regulation and cut taxes so small business, families, churches, and nonprofits can thrive.

Goals for office if elected: Enact legislation that protects life from conception to natural death. Enact legislation that protects religious liberty and freedom and conscience. Reduce the regulatory and tax burden that is strangling opportunity and placing an enormous economic burden on the businesses and citizens of Darke and Miami Counties.

What do you see as the greatest need to be addressed: The greatest need is reducing the regulatory and tax burden that is threatening the families and small businesses in our district.

• J.D. Winteregg

Family: Aimee Winteregg, spouse, Noah Winteregg, son

Occupation: Merchandising Manager at Rudy, Inc.

Previous political experience: I’ve not held elected office

Qualifications: Degrees in international business and French, foreign language education, completed doctoral course work in language education. Former French teacher. Trustee on Miami County Farm Bureau, workforce development and education state policy advisor with Ohio Farm Bureau Federation. I’ve had a lot of formal education and real-life experience in the public schools, in agriculture, and in small business.

Reason for seeking office: I’m running to represent Ohio’s 80th House District because I believe my experiences make me the most qualified person for this position. I’m a conservative who’s a former teacher, who works in agriculture, and who works in a small business. I’m a Miami County Farm Bureau Trustee, and I’m on their statewide advisory board for Workforce Development and Education. Through Farm Bureau, I’ve been able to advocate for all of these issues important to our district, and I’ve been able to spend time getting to know a number of our legislators through this process.

Goals for office if elected: I would eliminate the Kasich-Obama Medicaid Expansion expansion that’s fiscally unsustainable and feeding our opioid crisis.

We have politicians making educational decisions who have no idea what life in a classroom is like. I want to bring my experience to fight to eliminate the testing culture, reform funding, and enable local school districts to make decisions based on what is best for the students’ growth and development, because that’s where the focus needs to be. Furthermore, there’s a liberal agenda that monopolizes higher education, and we need to look at how our taxpayer dollars are funding these institutions that work counter to our values and counter to what made America great.

We need to stop these emotional reactions to tragedies and ensure we’re protecting our God-given right to defend ourselves the way we deem necessary. I intend to defend this right from the liberal attempts to strip it from us.

We need a representative who can consistently and effectively articulate the value of life. I intend to push the conversation to a very public discussion of when life begins as opposed to when it’s ok to end it. We won’t be effective in protecting all life until we have someone in there who understands how to do this, and I’m the one who will do it.

What do you see as the greatest need to be addressed: The greatest need I see that needs to be addressed for the state representative position is that we need a representative who understands what the job entails. A representative is elected to work for the public, not for himself. We need a representative who is accessible, accountable to the people, and principled. We need to get back to what made the Republican Party the great, and we need someone in there who actively pushes to protect and promote these values. I’m that guy, that’s why I’m running.





By Cecilia Fox

Reach Cecilia Fox at

Reach Cecilia Fox at