Hot seat

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

The White House run between John McCain and Barack Obama isn't the only hot race this year. Three are vying for a Congressional seat in Central Ohio's 15th district, which includes the west side of Franklin County and all of Union and Madison counties. It's one race that could alter power dynamics on Capitol Hill.

Each candidate supports safer streets, national security, reduced dependence on foreign oil and strengthening the middle class. Here's where they differ.

Name: Don Elijah Eckhart

Age: 58

Party: Independent

Education: Master's in public administration, University of Pennsylvania, 1974; B.A., Capital University, 1972

Political experience: 1985-2004, budget analyst and division chief, Ohio Legislative Service Commission; 1982-1985, budget manager, Montgomery County


In short: This longtime researcher, educator and policy analyst could pick up faith-based voters and leaners tired of partisan bickering.

Strong suit: Change. Has stressed his distance from Washington corruption and lobbied interests. Will only accept campaign donations from individuals.

What sets him apart: Is the only pro-life candidate and is supported by Ohio Right to Life. Has never held elected office or, as he's fond of saying, raised taxes.

Name: Mary Jo Kilroy

Age: 59

Party: Democrat

Education: J.D., Ohio State University, 1980; B.A., Cleveland State University, 1977

Political experience: 2001-present, commissioner, Franklin County Board of Commissioners; 1992-2000, member, Columbus Board of Education


In short: A longtime attorney and former commissioners board president, Kilroy has managed big county projects, including the construction of Huntington Park.

Strong suit: Health care. Helped fund numerous organizations and Access Health Columbus, which provides care for low-income Franklin County residents. Supports a universal system that's portable between jobs and covers existing conditions.

What sets her apart: Has experience dealing with numerous fields, including housing, environmental policy and finance.

Name: Steve Stivers

Age: 43

Party: Republican

Education: M.B.A., Ohio State University, 1996; B.A., Ohio State University, 1989

Political experience: 2003-present, Ohio Senate


In short: A businesslike politician known for bipartisan bills, he has strong support from state Republicans and moderates.

Strong suit: Fiscal policy. Favors two-year federal budget similar to Ohio's system, mandating balanced budgets and line-item presidential veto power. Passed balanced Ohio budget while rewarding state's largest personal-property tax cut.

What sets him apart: Has distinguished legislative record. Has served 23 years, and remains active, in the Ohio Army National Guard. Won a Bronze Star in the Middle East.

Source: Candidate websites, The Columbus Dispatch,

Trail Mix

The Columbus Metropolitan Club will host a debate-watching party Tuesday, Oct. 7, at COSI. Before the candidates' 9 p.m. showdown, National Public Radio's Neal Conan will host a discussion about Ohio's electoral importance and, starting at 11 p.m., will broadcast live from the party. Alive will be live-blogging from the event - and we want to hear from you. Click to to join the interactive blog.