Another Scioto County resident has joined the run for Ohio’s 90th District, this one from the Democratic Party: Joni Fearing.
Fearing joins fellow Democrat Adrienne Buckler, as well as Republicans Gina Collinsworth and Justin Pizzulli in the race. The highly-sought-after seat will be open at the end of 2018, with Rep. Dr. Terry Johnson reaching his term limit.
Fearing says the wide topic of politics has been something in which she has been interested since she was a young girl who kept Washington a special place in her heart.
“You could say that politics is in my blood. For my first birthday, I received a very special gift,” Fearing explains. “My uncle, who worked in Washington for several senators, had arranged for a United States flag that was flown over the Capitol on my first birthday to be sent to me, as he did for all his nieces and nephews. My first birthday happened to be January 20, 1961, the same day as President John F. Kennedy’s inauguration.”
Her youth was filled with trips to Washington. Since then, she has campaigned for elected officials, and is a member of the League of Women Voters.
Fearing has her bachelor’s degree in English from Montclair State University, as well as her masters of divinity at Princeton Theological Seminary.
Fearing returned to Portsmouth, her place of birth, in 2004. Uniquely, she attributes her leaving to her desire to run.
“More than anything, my motivation to run for state representative comes from a deep desire to serve the people of my native area,” Fearing says. “It saddens me that there are so many people struggling. My own family had to leave this region when I was young to move north for work, so I know personally the pain of having to leave one’s roots.”
Fearing says a major component of her platform stems from something she believes caused a family tragedy. “One of the biggest concerns of the area is the situation in Piketon at the former Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant, or the A-Plant. My father worked there for 10 years and died while fighting four different cancers.”
Fearing says she has been a vocal activist on the issue. Her family was also awarded through Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Act.
“Currently, area residents and environmental groups are now fighting alongside worker advocacy groups to prevent a nuclear waste repository on the site. Our area has supplied most of the workforce up there for over 50 years, and I believe we should have a say in plans for its future use. We need to demand the full cleanup that was promised when the plant was first built and the cleanup trust fund was created. If it is cleaned up to industrial standards, then new industry can be established there and more jobs created in a safer environment. This would help our region greatly. I want to help with job creation, but in the safest way possible.”
Fearing believes the best way to fight for her main platform, and assist in a plethora of other issues in the process, including homelessness, drugs and poverty, is to more effectively seek new industry to relocate in the area.
“I want to be the voice in Columbus for District 90. Our area was once considered the ‘Jewel on the Ohio’ between Pittsburgh and Cincinnati. We’ve lost some of the gleam, but with some spit-and-polish and elbow grease, I believe we can ‘clean up well,’ as my father used to say. It’s easy for people who have always lived here to lose sight of the special things we have. They become “everyday dishes,” but in reality, they are “fine china.” I lived away for much of my life, as seeking work took my family away. But, at heart, I have always been an Appalachian. I would like the opportunity to use my skills, education, activism and vision to lift up our area. Too many politicians have come through here seeking votes, but then seem to forget about us after they leave. Having lived away has given me a different perspective and new insights. Being back has given me an opportunity to reconnect once again with my family and past, and with the beauty, strength and power the Appalachian foothills provide.”