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CLEVELAND (WJW) — Among the closest watched political races this election cycle is for the 13th District U.S. Representative, which has been held since 2002 by Democrat Tim Ryan.

Ryan faces what some believe to be his greatest challenger, former Republican State Representative Christina Hagan.

The 13th Congressional District stretches from Youngstown to parts of the city of Akron as well as Barberton. It includes Warren, Kent, Cuyahoga Falls, Wadsworth and Lordstown, where jobs remain among the biggest issues following the loss of the General Motors Assembly Plant.

“It’s abundantly clear as we are out on the campaign trail that people are concerned about jobs. They are concerned about the economy and they are most importantly concerned about their safety and security,” said Hagan, who Ryan notes does not live in the district.

Ryan points to tens of millions of dollars he has contributed to projects throughout the district during his tenure in Washington.

“You look at the projects all around the district, whether it’s the Kent central gateway project that completely transformed downtown Kent that started with a 20 million dollar federal grant that I got. You look at what’s going on in Akron right now with all of the construction and the new promenade in downtown, I was able to get 13 million for that project. I just got 10 million for Youngstown and Youngstown State University for a big transportation project. Hundreds of millions of dollars in research that I am using my position on the defense appropriations subcommittee of which I will be the vice chair next year,” said Ryan listing millions in other investments that have been made in the district, which he says have also been the catalyst for private investment as well.

Hagan, who has the endorsement of President Donald Trump, criticizes the incumbent for a letter he signed and sent to Attorney General William Barr citing institutional bias in the justice system as well as an increase in the number of deaths by police.

The letter itself was harshly criticized by Youngstown’s Police Chief as well as the President of the Ohio Fraternal Order of Police.

“I have been working and advocating for both our fire and our police the entire time I was in the state legislature,” said Hagan, whose husband and brother are firefighter medics, her brother a medic attached to a SWAT team in Columbus.

“I am not for defunding police, in fact, I’ve brought back tens of millions of dollars to actually staff hundreds of police and fire in my congressional district, equipment, technology, I’ve helped fund the police but we have to make sure we weed out the bad apples,” explained Ryan.

Ryan, who has the endorsement of his former Republican challenger, says he has shown the willingness to work across the aisle with lawmakers of the opposite party.

Both Hagan and Ryan say they are willing to put partisan politics aside for what they believe to be in the best interest of their constituents.

“We are very clear on what we stand for, and we believe that our conservative beliefs cross all party lines and that is very clear because I have been sent to serve by Democrats, Independents and Republicans always with overwhelming support from across the aisle,” said Hagan.

“Georgetown University a few months back came out with a study of who is the most bi-partisan members of Congress and I was the second most bi-partisan representative in Ohio,” Ryan told Fox 8, adding “I do care about what republicans think. their views are important to me. I don’t always agree but I think it’s important that we have conversations and try to find some middle ground.”

Both also represent a district that includes the former General Motors Lordstown Assembly Plant where thousands of jobs were lost, replaced by far fewer jobs at Lordstown Motors, a new company building an all-electric truck at the same plant.

“Obviously, we are not back yet to the jobs that we had in the region with Lordstown GM. There were over 3,000 jobs lost. The jobs that will be replaced are positive but they are not quite where we want to be and we want to keep the pattern trending that we see here with the president’s leadership, with the reversal of burdensome bureaucratic regulations that make it difficult to produce and manufacture in the United States. We want to continue to see the taxes come down that make it beneficial to produce and manufacture in the United States and we want to see the president’s trade policies remain in place that reverse harmful shifts in our local economies that are affecting not only jobs in the district but overseas.” said Hagan.

“When you look at the electric vehicles and you look at the battery plants, I  have been talking about this for years on how we need to convert our economy over and it was me who put the money in along with Marcy Kaptur to resuscitate the loan fund they used for electric vehicle companies. Donald Trump zeroed that thing out, he has not been pushing electric vehicles,” said Ryan.

Both also understand that they are seeking to represent a district still impacted by COVID-19, where the virus has Kent State University bringing in the National Guard in an attempt to deal with a spike in cases there.

Hagan favors a continued opening of the economy.

“It’s a question of whether we are going to live in fear for the rest of our lives or if we are going to start integrating ourselves into society, building our immune systems, being mindful of ourselves and others and allow society to function. Ultimately, I do believe wholeheartedly that the answer is giving the American public the information and then allowing them to decide how to navigate that information,” said Hagan.

“Whether businesses want to open up, should be the right and the decision of the business owner and whether Ohioans want to go to that business and pursue what that business has to offer should the right of that individual, caveat emtor, buyer beware. It’s basic simple economics and also people’s personal health decision should be just that, theirs,” she added.

Ryan believes the federal government should have safeguards in place to help take care of those whose jobs and businesses are impacted by the virus but thinks when there are spikes in cases it may be necessary to shut things down.

“You are going to have to shut down when you have these really big spikes to reduce the pressure on the healthcare system because when you have these huge spikes, it’s the nurses, the doctors, the healthcare workers who are put in grave danger,” said Ryan.

Ryan says he is raising and spending more money than he ever has in his 18 years in office to win re-election.

Both candidates are encouraged by the reception they are getting throughout the district.

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