Sara Carruthers (R) and Susan Vaughn (D) are both running for 51st district state representative, but that’s not all they have in common. Carruthers and Vaughn are both former Miami students and both are members of Delta Zeta sorority.
Carruthers attended classes with the class of 1986, and Vaughn graduated in 1982. While the two did not attend Miami together, they know each other from community involvement, particularly in theater.
The two candidates are running to represent Hamilton, Fairfield, and Ross Township in the Ohio House of Representatives. Despite their similarities, Carruthers and Vaughn have very different political views.
Vaughn, a self-described “moderate Democrat,” is also a former employee of Miami University. She served as director of the Office of Ethics and Student Conflict Resolution (OESCR), now known as the Office of Community Standards, from 1996 to 2018.
Vaughn says she entered the race because she saw a need for collaboration between opposing sides, something she says she experienced while at Miami.
“It’s not about anti-republican or anti-anyone,” Vaughn said. “It’s a clean, fair race where people get to know the candidates.”
Vaughn’s platform has campaigned heavily on the issue of tax dollars that have been sent to Ohio’s rainy day fund, claiming that Hamilton alone lost $10.5 million to the fund. Her literature, website and billboards all use the phrase “bring our money home.”
“Since 2010, Kasich has been keeping tax money that, legally, should be coming back to the communities,” Vaughn said. “We need to get back to the equal distribution of money to the communities.”
Vaughn is vocal on social issues such as abortion and guns. She is pro-choice, and supports more restrictive gun laws. These stances have prompted endorsements of her candidacy from Planned Parenthood and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.
Carruthers, a lifelong Republican, is heavily involved with journalism and media in the Butler County area. She oversees video production with TV Hamilton and has worked with WKRC, a local CBS affiliate. She also worked in the Reagan and H.W. Bush administrations as a White House Press Assistant.
Carruthers says she is running because her kids inspired her to run against incumbent Wes Retherford in the primary. Retherford made headlines in 2017 after being found guilty of operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol.
“We had a conversation about it, and I decided, why not?” she said. “We haven’t been represented well for years. Unless you decide to make a change, you never get anywhere.”
Carruthers is campaigning on a wide array of issues, including the opioid epidemic, homelessness, mental health, and education. She is concerned about school safety and has toured an Indiana school that has been dubbed “the safest school in america” by national media.
“It was fascinating for me,” Carruthers said. “There are things that can be done, and I’d like to see that happen here.”
Carruthers has also expressed her opinion on abortion and guns. She is pro-life, and has expressed support for the second amendment. She has received endorsements from Ohio Right to Life, the National Rifle Association, and Butler County Sheriff Richard K. Jones.
Carruthers and Vaughn will face off on Nov. 6.