Republican Shay Hawkins is challenging Rep. Phil Robinson, D-Solon, for the District 6 state representative seat during the Nov. 3 general election. Rep. Robinson was first elected to the position in 2018 in a race against Jim Trakas.
District 6 includes Bentleyville, Chagrin Falls Village, Chagrin Falls Township, Gates Mills, Glenwillow, Hunting Valley, Moreland Hills, Solon and other eastern Cuyahoga County communities.
Mr. Hawkins, 46, of Lyndhurst earned his bachelor’s degree in economics from The Ohio State University, his MBA from Columbia Business School and his juris doctorate from the Moritz College of Law at OSU. He is currently the president of the Opportunity Funds Association, a 501(c)(6) dedicated to bringing investment capital to distressed communities. Mr. Hawkins was also an economic policy advisor to U.S. Sen.Tim Scott, R-SC. He said that he is running for office so he can give back to a community that has shaped him as a person.
“I’m in a position to help Ohio’s entrepreneurs create jobs,” he said. “I want to make sure everyone who has the ability to work has the opportunity to work.”
Rep. Robinson, 39, graduated from George Washington University and earned his MBA from Case Western Reserve University. He was the executive director of City Year Cleveland and later became senior vice president for regional operations. In July, he started a new job as the chief operating officer for Education Board Partners. Rep. Robinson said that he is running for reelection because he wants to put people before politics.
“I believe our state government should work for everyone, not just the powerful and connected,” he said on Sept. 21. He has lived in the district for 10 years, Rep. Robinson said, and knows his constituents want a representative who will fight for quality education, protect their access to healthcare and create economic opportunities.
Mr. Hawkins said that he has ethics and integrity, which will help him be an effective leader. He also said that he will be accessible to his constituents if elected.
In response to the $61 million bribery scheme earlier this year led by state Rep. Larry Householder, R-Glenford, Mr. Hawkins said Rep. Householder should resign to focus on his case with the Department of Justice. Mr. Hawkins also said that any campaign contributions received from Rep. Householder, FirstEnergy or the Generation Now PAC should be donated.
Mr. Hawkins said that HB 6 should be repealed. He supports an “all of the above” energy policy, including solar, wind, natural gas, liquefied natural gas, oil and nuclear energy, he added.
“I want us to have low cost energy for consumers,” he said. “I want us to have abundant jobs for workers and I want us to be independent as a state and contribute to energy independence for the country.”
Rep. Robinson said that Rep. Householder should resign because his presence in the legislature continues to be a distraction. Rep. Robinson said that he received $1,000 in unsolicited funds from a FirstEnergy PAC composed of employees but he donated the funds to the Ohio Environmental Council and the Greater Cleveland Food Bank. He said that HB 6 should be repealed and emphasized the importance of incentivizing renewable energy such as solar and wind.
To recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, Mr. Hawkins said that medical providers should expand telehealth and businesses should be protected. For example, he said that if businesses are complying with COVID-19 safety guidelines then they should be immune from coronavirus-related lawsuits.
Rep. Robinson said that the legislature needs to appropriate enough funds for Gov. DeWine to properly carry out safety orders for the public during this ongoing coronavirus pandemic. He also said that people should continue wearing masks, socially distancing and sanitizing surfaces often.
Mr. Hawkins commented on civil unrest following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota in police custody. He said that police officers need to be fully funded and receive proper training, such as de-escalation and implicit bias. He is endorsed by the Fraternal Order of Police. Mr. Hawkins said that this discussion should not be “us against them.”
Rep. Robinson said that Mr. Floyd’s death was an “inflection point” in the Black Lives Matter movement. He cosponsored a resolution to declare racism as a public health crisis. He expects that discussions will follow on how to address racism with public policy.
Regarding education, Mr. Hawkins said that he wants to give parents as many choices as possible, including public, private and charter schools in addition to homeschooling. He also wants to give public schools as much control as possible over their district. Mr. Hawkins said that he supports an income-based EdChoice expansion.
Rep. Robinson said he did not support the Hunting Valley amendment that state Sen. Matt Dolan, R-Chagrin Falls, added to the state budget in 2019 giving village property owners a tax break and potentially creating a revenue shortfall for Orange City Schools. The amendment, which was vetoed by the governor, was not transparent or good public policy, he said.
“Defunding public schools is a step in the wrong direction,” he said.
Mr. Hawkins said that the amendment “makes sense for the Sixth District.” He said that “plugging holes” in the school district’s funding is up to the school funding formula to resolve.
Mr. Hawkins said that he supports Gov. DeWine’s 17-point plan to address gun violence by addressing the core issue, mental health.
In addition, he is endorsed by Ohio Right to Life and said that he wants to decrease the number of abortions through various avenues, such as increasing access to contraceptives, adoption services and resources for pregnant women.
Rep. Robinson said that he would support an extension of the RTA line into District 6 because not everyone has a car to get to work. Gov. DeWine signed HB 4 into law, which Rep. Robinson wrote. It will expand workforce training and certification development options for Ohioans, he said.
Rep. Robinson said that he served as a ranking member on the Primary and Secondary Education Committee, where he helped to invest $625 million in public schools, some of which is for wrap around services, and increased teacher salaries. He also helped put a moratorium in place to stop the EdChoice expansion and is working to overhaul the state report card so it accurately reflects student achievement and progress.
To curb gun violence, one of the bills that Rep. Robinson introduced was HB 317 for universal background checks, which would determine who should and should not have a gun. He said that it has support from local law enforcement.
He also discussed reproductive rights and said that he is pro-choice, stating that the government should not be involved in a woman’s health.
In a Sept. 26 press release, Rep. Robinson’s campaign manager said that there are fraudulent and incorrect digital ads that refer to a lawsuit filed against another person with the same name. Rep. Robinson is calling for the removal of these ads.