Portsmouth First Ward Councilman Kevin W. Johnson is in Washington D.C. meeting with U.S. senators and representatives with Appalachia on his mind.
In an exclusive interview Wednesday, Johnson told the Daily Times he has met with U.S. Senator Rob Portman and long-time friend, Dianne Feinstein, U.S. senator from California.
Johnson arrived in Washington Tuesday and the visit is providing him with time to talk with government officials as well as catch up with an old friend.
“This evening (Wednesday) I’m meeting with Dr. (Brad) Wenstrup (U.S. Rep., Ohio’s 6th District) and his staff. Tomorrow is Senator Sherrod Brown and (U.S. Rep.) Bill Johnson later,” Johnson said.
Johnson told the Times, “I’m talking a lot about Appalachia.”
“Anything that affects Appalachia affects Portsmouth,” Johnson said. “The Appalachian Regional Commission, APEC (Appalachian Peace Education Center), Tedesco (Appalachian Studies).”
Johnson said the delegation in Washington is keeping tabs on the Scioto County area.
“I’ve heard a lot about Jason Kester (director, Southen Ohio Port Authority),” Johnson said. “He has developed a great reputation back here.”
“My purpose is to join the chorus from our greater community and make sure Congress doesn’t forget Appalachia,” Johnson said. “In fact, Congress needs to pay more attention to Appalachia because we’re simply not getting the support from the national government on the specific issues.”
Johnson said a lot of the discussion centered around the drug epidemic in our area and in the rest of Ohio.
“I think additional funding is going be coming, and nobody is buying into the Attorney General’s desire to put everybody in prison,” Johnson said. “That isn’t going to work.”
Recently the word came down from Washington that the ARC is not included in the president’s budget.
“From what I hear that’s not going to go anywhere,” Johnson said. “I’ve only met with two senators so far, I’ve got a lot of meetings to go. From what I’ve heard so far, that recommendation is DOA.”
Johnson said he expects to return to Portsmouth Saturday in time for the Memorial Day parade and celebration.
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext 1928, or on Twitter @flewisPDT.