When voters go to the polls for Tuesday’s primary election, they’ll be whittling down the number of candidates in both parties for, among other offices, governor and lieutenant governor, as well as south central Ohio’s 90th Congressional District.
Polls are open 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
While the governor’s race has a statewide importance, locally the race to replace 90th District incumbent Dr. Terry Johnson (R-McDermott) has garnered the most attention. Four Republicans and two Democrats are bidding to emerge victorious Tuesday and set their sights on the November general election.
Johnson was originally elected to represent Ohio’s 89th House District. Johnson saw his district lines redrawn, and in 2012 was elected to represent the new 90th District, which includes all of Scioto and Adams counties, and part of Lawrence County. Johnson has been term limited out of contention and is, therefore, not seeking re-election.
Seeking to fill the House vacancy are Republicans Brian Baldridge, Gina Collinsworth, Scott Powell and Justin Pizzulli, and Democrats challenging for the seat in Columbus are Adrienne Buckler and Joni Fearing.
Baldridge, an Adams County commissioner and former Wayne Township trustee and fire chief (and still volunteer firefighter), points out that he is the only candidate in the race for the 90th District to ever have held public office. Baldridge says there is a distinct advantage in having a representative with some direct political experience. “There is a very steep learning curve when representatives arrive in Columbus.”
He says he’s already tackled tight government budgets, helped bring new businesses to the area and dealt with infrastructure related issues. “I’ve been there, and I’ve done it. We can hit the ground running. I want to hold up a sign in Columbus that says, ‘Southern Ohio is open for business’.”
Buckler, a Scioto County native who is a practicing attorney with a bachelor’s degree in political science and a Juris Doctorate, says she is running for state representative for the betterment of the area. “I am running for our future. We need someone in Columbus that will promote our community and fight for our community. We need someone with a strong voice. I have that strong voice. I use my voice and advocate for my clients on a daily basis, and I want to be your advocate — your voice — in Columbus,” she says.
“I can assure the citizens of Scioto, Adams and Lawrence counties that my personality, my work ethic and my determination will not change when I am your representative in Columbus.”
Collinsworth, owner of a knowledge-based business selling original music to television shows and film companies, earned a bachelor’s degree in English as well as a masters degree. She has worked as a teacher and at The Counseling Center and Compass Community Health.
She says she plans to focus a lot of her energy on jobs and education, but has a long list of goals. “I‘m running for office because I want to keep Southern Ohio moving forward. I want to help, and I have the experience, the education and the heart to work hard with others who are making a difference. I believe, if we work together, we can overcome any challenges. We are starting to make things happen in our area, and we want to keep moving forward,” she says.
Fearing, a Portsmouth native with a degree in English and a masters of divinity, 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,” she says.
“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.”
Powell, who describes himself as “a faith-based leader known for positive results,” earned a masters degree in health administration and previously worked for BridgePort Health Care Center, Concord Health and Rehabilitation, and the Ohio Bureau of Worker’s Compensation.
Powell believes job creation is the No. 1 priority facing the city and the key to its future, as well as the key to retaining younger populations such as his children. He believes he has a skill set and a proven track record of saving existing positions and bringing new jobs to the area. He also recognizes the widespread and well-known opiate addiction epidemic plaguing the area, but advocates a multi-pronged approach that includes health education and a ministerial component.
Pizzulli, a third-generation Italian American, is from the tight-knit community of Franklin Furnace, where he was deeply impacted by his hardworking, religious upbringing. The first to graduate college on his mother’s side, he sees improving the education system as a major plank of his platform. He received a bachelor’s and masters degree in business administration.
“There’s a leadership crisis in Columbus that I know I can fill. I have a deep sense of pride when it comes to living in southern Ohio. The people who live here are bound together with a shared sense of values and beliefs,” he says. Pizzulli says politicians in Columbus have long ignored the 90th District, and he wants “to end the era of us sitting in the shadows of the political world.”
Also on the ballot Tuesday is a proposed Constitutional Amendment that creates a bipartisan, public process for drawing congressional districts. If approved, the amendment would end the partisan process for drawing congressional districts, ensure a transparent process by requiring public hearings and allowing public submission of proposed plans, require the adoption of new congressional districts by a bipartisan vote and must comply with explicit anti-gerrymandering requirements. If passed, the amendment will become effective immediately.
Reach Lynn Adams at 740-353-3101 ext. 1927