Heroin epidemic, same-sex marriage at center of Ohio AG race

Heroin epidemic, same-sex marriage at center of Ohio AG race

FOX19 - Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine is calling his opponent David Pepper inexperienced while Pepper says DeWine is ineffective.

The two candidates are talking everything from heroin to same-sex marriage and the battle for the AG's office is getting heated.

"We've been able to take the licenses of 53 doctors in the state. We've closed the pill mills. I think we've made some real progress," said Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine.

DeWine says since he took over the job as Ohio Attorney General, he has kept his campaign promises. The state crime lab underwent an extensive overhaul. Before he took over, DeWine says DNA from rape cases could take more than 125 days to process. Now despite a four-fold increase in DNA work in the crime lab, the lab is now doing these cases in 23 days and has the ability to turn cases around in 24-48 hours.

DeWine says his team has been proactive in fighting the heroin epidemic even forming a Heroin Task Force in November 2013 to tackle it.

"We give local law enforcement, particularly smaller jurisdictions something that they have no way of getting and that is the equipment and the expertise as well as the manpower to move up the chain and to get the bigger drug dealers," said DeWine.

"The truth is the state and Mr. DeWine don't have a plan at all. That's the problem," said David Pepper, DeWine's democratic opponent.

Pepper says a task force formed last year is too late. He says he's laid out a comprehensive plan to end heroin by providing more treatment options and increasing D.A.R.E. and school resource officers. While Pepper agrees with DeWine that education and prevention is vital, Pepper says getting the drug off the street is a top priority.

"We can be a lot tougher on enforcement than we have been. We need to have a message sent to every drug dealer, every heroin dealer, if you sell heroin that leads to someone's death through an overdose, we are holding you accountable for that death as a homicide," said Pepper.

Another hot button issue for both candidates is gay marriage. So far 35 states have struck down same-sex marriage bans similar to Ohio's current ban. DeWine says regardless of his personal views, his job is to fight for Ohio law.

"When the voters ten years ago passed a constitutional amendment that said marriage was between a man and a woman, it is my legal obligation, I have taken and oath to defend that," said DeWine.

"The job of the attorney general is to defend Ohio law except when that Ohio law is clearly unconstitutional," said Pepper who believes the AG's efforts should be put elsewhere. "The idea that we are going to keep wasting time and money to keep fighting this futile effort, this losing effort just doesn't make sense to me."

Check Ohio's Attorney General candidates out for yourself:

Mike DeWine

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/MikeDeWine

David Pepper

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/davidpepperOH

Copyright 2014 WXIX. All rights reserved