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Johnson, Roberts compete for Ohio's 6th Congressional District

Erin Couch
Zanesville Times Recorder
U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson

Voters will have the chance to elect a new president on Nov. 3. They also will have the opportunity to elect new members of U.S. Congress to represent them and their needs as constituents.

Republican incumbent Bill Johnson, R-Marietta, faces Democrat contender Shawna Roberts. The two are competing for a seat in the House of Representatives for Ohio's 6th Congressional District two years after they faced off in the 2018 midterm election.

Johnson is a five-term veteran of Congress.

Roberts has not responded to multiple requests for information by Times Recorder.

What is a U.S. representative?

U.S. representatives are elected by the voters in their district to do what their name implies - serve their constituents with their seat on Captiol Hill in the U.S. House of Representatives. They work both on Capitol Hill and at a home base in their own district.

They are members of Congress, part of the legislative branch of the federal government.

Ohio is separated into 16 congressional districts. Ohio's 6th District, the seat currently held by Johnson, includes 18 counties in Eastern and Southeastern Ohio, Belmont, Columbiana, Carroll, Gallia, Guernsey, Harrison, Jackson, Jefferson, Lawrence, Meigs, Monroe, Noble and Washington counties. It also includes portions of Athens, Mahoning, Muskingum, Scioto and Tuscarawas counties.

Those running for a seat in the House must be at least 25 years old and have been a citizen in the U.S. for at least seven years.

House members are often addressed as congressman or congresswoman.

The of a U.S. representative was most recently listed in a 2018 congressional report at $174,000. They serve two-year terms.

What does a U.S. representative do?

A representative introduces legislation and votes to pass bills. They work in conjunction with the Senate to send these bills to the president, who will either sign them or veto them. 

Congress can override a veto with two-thirds of each chamber's members in favor.

Representatives can also serve on any of the House's committees, caucuses or commissions.

The 20 standing house committees consider certain bills and issues that relate to certain legislative jurisdictions, like agriculture, small business, transportation and infrastructure, or foreign affairs. They can be established permanently or for a period of time.

Commissions serve as advisory bodies to members of their chamber. Caucuses, also known by other names like coalitions or task forces, work similarly as a a group that would work toward certain legislative objectives.

They can work from offices in their district whenever the House is not in session during periods of time known as recesses or district work periods. For example, a recess begins Oct. 5 and runs through Nov. 16, when votes for legislation begin again and a member of Congress must be present to cast those votes.

They can also speak with their constituents during recesses about issues where they'd like to see legislative action on a federal level.

The candidates

Incumbent Bill Johnson, R-Marietta, was originally elected to Congress in 2010 and has served five terms for Ohio's 6th District. He has frequently worked on job creation, veterans affairs, defending the coal industry and American energy independence, according to his House bio.

He currently serves on the two House committees and two caucuses. He serves as the co-chairman on one of those caucuses.

Democrat contender Shawna Roberts lives in Belmont and has raised five children in the 6th District, according to her campaign Twitter page. She previously ran for the seat in 2018.

Now the two will compete on the ballot for a seat in the current Democrat-majority House, with incumbent Johnson coming into the race as a Republican with almost 10 consecutive years of experience on Capitol Hill under his belt, and newcomer Roberts who was defeated by Johnson in the last midterm election.

Bill Johnson

  • Age: 66
  • Hometown: Marietta
  • Political affiliation: Republican
  • Occupation: Member of Congress, retired Air Force lieutenant colonel 
  • Political experience: Member of Congress since 2011

If elected, what are your top two initiatives while in office and how would you achieve them?

Access to broadband internet is a key challenge because it impacts economic development, health care and education. I’ve worked, and will continue to work, with the Federal Communications Commission and other agencies to get accurate data about the extent of the problem, and funding to ensure that those areas unserved and underserved by private sector service providers are given priority connectivity options.

We also must find ways to bring Americans together. The violence and lawlessness must stop. We have to focus on solutions that build America up rather than riots that burn it down.

What committees would you like to serve on and why?

I proudly serve on the important House Energy & Commerce and Budget Committees.  Energy & Commerce sets policy for the energy, health care, and telecommunication sectors — all extremely important issues to those I serve in Eastern and Southeastern Ohio. America having an “America first” energy policy, in particular, is critical to the thousands of people here whose jobs depend on coal and natural gas production.

I also serve on the Budget Committee provides me a louder voice to fight to make our federal government more effective, more efficient, and more accountable to the people.

What bills/resolutions would you like to work on and why?

I’ve had 18 pieces of legislation (previously) signed into law. Currently, I’m working hard to advance three bills: H.R. 7663, the Protecting Access to Post-COVID-19 Telehealth Act that would permanently enable patients to continue accessing their doctors in their homes via telehealth beyond the current health emergency; H.R. 7357, the Wireless Broadband Competition Act and Efficient Deployment Act; and H.R. 6940, the Advancing Tech Startups Act, to help bring supply chains back to America from China.

The coronavirus has caused the economy to plunge and more than 1 million Ohioans have filed for unemployment. When and by what means do you think Ohio will recover?

Recovery has been slow, but steady and I hope to see that continue. I supported the CARES Act to help families, small businesses (through the PPP Program) and hospitals facing financial hardships, and I support the U.S. Senate’s efforts to extend that help. Sadly, the Speaker of the House wants to use the economic downturn during the pandemic as a way to pass a laundry list of spending on liberal programs rather than focusing on those who really need help. I will continue fighting for solutions and am hopeful that more governors will begin safely reopening their states.

What is your stance on government-involved health care and the current social justice movements?

 On health care, I believe less government control and fewer mandates will result in more consumer choice, more competition, greater access and more affordable care. Specifically, I support health insurance portability, expanding health savings accounts (HSAs), and preserving coverage for pre-existing conditions.  On Medicare, we must take actions to strengthen and preserve it.

On the rioting we’ve seen in cities: We must find ways to bring Americans together. The violence and lawlessness must stop. We must stop efforts to defund the police, and provide opportunities for our young people to learn the value of serving their communities rather than destroying them.