Frank LaRose is a member of the Ohio State Senate from Ohio’s 27th Senate district in his second term. He is a member of the Republican Party and is running to serve as Ohio’s Secretary of State. LaRose stopped in the Portsmouth Daily Times office to talk about running for office.
He is a 10-year Army veteran, U.S. Special Forces Green Beret with multiple combat tours, and a Bronze Star Recipient. He has eight years in the Legislature, just like his opponent, Kathleen Clyde. “We both started serving in 2011,” said LaRose. He said they are the exact same age 39 and were from one county next to each other. Her home is probably six miles from his hometown. “We both love our state and want to make it better, but then there are differences.”
About Scioto County, he says, “First of all, this is a part of the state that I care about, I’ve been down here multiple times, because this is priority for me.” He held a fund raiser here, when people suggest he shouldn’t. “I want to go down there to show folks down there, how much I care about them. I was here for several events during the year, one being the Scioto County Fair.”
“Why am I the better person for this job? Specifically, the experience I bring, but also the way that I conduct myself.” By that LaRose says, “I have a real track record of working across the aisle to get problems solved. I’m one that knows how to actually get things accomplished, and that comes from my time in the military… in my old line of work, we had to work together, because our lives depended on it. Kind of a way of thinking, that I brought to the legislature. I don’t start every conversation worried about who is the Democrat or the Republican, but how can we make Ohio better? I know I’ve done that the last eight years.”
To me, this is something I get, that most people don’t pay attention to the secretary of state’s office. I believe that the Secretary of State has impact on two things that I think are fundamental to what it means to be an Ohioan. My vision is that we have a thriving democracy and a prosperous economy…This is the office that can impact both. Thriving democracy is the election side of the office, making sure when the district lines get drawn in 2021, that it is a fair way and that we run elections that are above board secure, but also accessible to every Ohioan.”
LaRose added, “Secretary of State, is the front door for any new business. The responsibility of being the front door for any business owner, is also an opportunity and it gives the Secretary of State to be the voice of the small business owner, to be the advocate for small businesses, to really push and help small businesses have a good start in Ohio. I see that as a responsibility for small businesses. ”
LaRose spoke on his background the last eight years in the Senate, prior to that, in college, and prior to that, serving in the United States Army. He talked about how he hasn’t been afraid to stand up to his own party. “I’ve always kind of been an independent voice, I consider myself conservative on certain issues, but I’ve also crossed the aisle on some things.” He says he also follows his heart, if there’s a chance to serve, he wants to do it.
He continued on how family is important to him and that he has three little girls, three, five and seven, that are the center of his universe. “I think this is a way to serve and a way to make our state more prosperous. I believe in this office, this is the area that I can make difference.”
LaRose says that elections are important to him, because he has seen people risk their lives to cast their vote, in both Iraq and in Kosovo. He told the story of an older woman who struggled with a cane, just to climb a hill to cast a vote, and how he wasn’t allowed to help her. He also told that in Iraq they have to dip their finger in ink to vote, because they don’t have a way to keep track of who votes and that, that purple finger became a point of pride for them. The terrorists there said they would cut their finger off, if it had purple ink on it. Those people still showed up at 70% to vote, and how that was something that really inspires him. “I get to protect that right as Secretary of State, and I’ll be excited to show up to work everyday. I want to make my little girls proud.”
On the Democratic side, Kathleen Clyde said she had been in this area a number of times and all Ohio counties are important to her. “I have an understanding of the diversity in Ohio counties from region to region. As a statewide leader, I’m excited about the opportunity of getting to represent southern Ohio and getting to know the people there better, and listen about the issues that are important to them. One of the things that is directly important to residents in southern Ohio, is the partisan gerrymandering that has plagued our state for so long and really made our elected leaders in Columbus not responsive to the needs of everyday Ohioans.”
Clyde continued, “The other thing that this office can do, is being the first stop for new businesses that are registering in the state, I want to work hard to make the office a more welcoming front door, for Ohio businesses getting their start.” That includes she said, working in community, taking the office on the road and working with local organizations that already exist, to help small businesses and to create new businesses. She said she would be interested in targeting the areas where the need is greater; for unemployment, for example.
Clyde also is very interested in having a fairer and secure election in all parts of the state. She also mentioned accessibility and cyber security are big issues for her. When speaking of redistricting as secretary of state, for the statehouse districts, “we’ll have the same number of districts we have now, but they are all carved up, splitting communities and really the main focus was partisan advantage, and that’s not what Ohioan’s want. They want us to … work to bring people together to have a state government that is accountable, transparent and responsive to them.”
She added, “Partisan politicians have rigged our system in Columbus, to maintain their power and to benefit special interest, whether it’s by gerrymandering the district , restricting voting rights or letting dark money into our elections. I have a proven track record of fighting for fair districts, voting rights for all and an end to secret money.”
What makes her a better candidate she says, is she comes from a swing district, half republican, half democrat, “so I know how to work together to get things done. I want to bring fairness, transparency, and much needed non-partisainship to the Secretary’s office.”
She was asked what makes her special for this race. “I am uniquely qualified for this position, I have served as an election official, I am a graduate of Ohio State’s law school, where I focused on election law,” she said. “I’ve worked in the secretary of state’s office and I’ve served on the key committees in the legislature dealing with these issues. I really bring a lot of qualifications to the table and that’s the difference in this race.”
Clyde is single and both of her parents are still living in northeast Ohio, which is where her district is. “I think there are a number of things that impact Scioto County in playing this race, and certainly this election. I just hope everyone realizes that their voice is important and that they need to turn out and vote.”
Reach Kimberly Jenkins (740)353-3101 ext. 1928