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A day on the campaign trail with Tim Ryan features the voices of different voters

There was still dew on the grass — and the Toledo city skyline in clear view — as Democratic U.S. Senate Candidate Tim Ryan went on a morning tour of Tatum Park’s urban farm.

This was the first of three stops Ryan had planned for a busy Monday on the campaign trail.

During the tour, Sonia Flunder-McNair, the farm’s founder, welcomed the opportunity to tell Ryan about the government red tape that stands in the way of urban farmers.

“We're just giving back in huge ways. And it's important to create these policies to make sure that the youth farmers that I'm teaching don't have to go through what I went through to build a farm within a city,” said Flunder-McNair, who is also CEO of SONIA Organics which makes products from produce harvested at the farm.

Ryan is locked in what appears to be a tight race with Republican U.S. Senate Candidate J.D. Vance. Ryan said his message, as he tours the state, is that he’s someone who will fight for Ohio workers.

“And these are the communities that have been forgotten. You know, how do we stop the bad trade deals? How do we reinvest in rebuilding the middle class in these industries of the future,” said Ryan.

Ryan talked to a few more workers at the urban farm then hopped back in the car, but not before Sonia gave him a bag of organic honey and a slice of yellow watermelon.

The next stop on the campaign trail was in Lima, to tour the BrightView addiction treatment center.

A main message from Dr. Navdeep Kang, BrightView chief clinical officer, is that there are ways to reduce wasted federal funding and be more efficient with those dollars.

“There has to be clarity on what addiction treatment really is and what it isn't. And we need to stand up more support and ultimately just direct funding more appropriately towards that treatment, which works,” said Kang.

As Ryan stopped to talk to with local news outlets, he underscored how important it is for Congress to take on the opioid epidemic.

“So how do we keep this junk out of our country? But then also, how do we help people who have been addicted? So, this is a main priority. I think it's directly linked to the economy, too. Like we've got to have a strong economy and you can't have it unless you got skilled workers who are well,” said Ryan.

Before leaving Lima, Ryan mentioned grabbing a famous Kewpee Hamburger, a staple of the city. But that would have to wait — it was time for him to move on to his third stop of the day.

Ryan landed at a town hall at Central State University’s Dayton Campus, which included about a dozen Black voters for a chance to share with Ryan what issues are most pressing to them.

The participants mentioned the importance of strong labor unions, women’s rights and trade issues.

He also received pushback for his campaign rhetoric that has seemed to position himself further away from the political left, and even shows him criticizing the positions of President Joe Biden and former President Barack Obama.

“Intellectually I know why you do it but there’s a risk there,” said Chris Shaw, a Dayton City commissioner and participant at the town hall.

Ryan, who has served as a U.S. Congressman for the Youngstown area for nearly 20 years, said he thinks it’s important to be a straight shooter.

“If I think it's bad for my area and the people that I've seen grew up with it and struggled, watching struggling communities, I'm just not going to be for it. And I know sometimes people get mad at me for that. But, you know, that's the job,” Ryan said.

As he wrapped up the third campaign event of the day, Ryan looked back on his different stops on the campaign trail, noting that it’s imperative for him to meet the people he wants to represent in the U.S. Senate.

“I think that's a very important part of leadership. It's a philosophical thing for me. It’s like, you just need to get information from as many sources as you possibly can in order to try to help advocate or create a policy or strategy around fixing these problems,” said Ryan.

J.D. Vance, Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, was in Cuyahoga County to open a GOP campaign center. Vance has not recently been making many back-to-back campaign stops on a daily basis in Ohio. However, he is scheduled to appear at a rally in Youngstown Saturday with former President Donald Trump.

Copyright 2022 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.

Andy Chow is a general assignment state government reporter who focuses on environmental, energy, agriculture, and education-related issues. He started his journalism career as an associate producer with ABC 6/FOX 28 in Columbus before becoming a producer with WBNS 10TV.