Galena farmer John Russell wants to be the next state representative for the 68th Ohio House District.
The political newcomer wants to be the first Democrat ever to be elected in the 68th, which consists of the eastern half of Delaware County and all of Knox County.
“In this district, it’s been one-party rule, and I think it’s time for change,” Russell said.
Russell, 25, grew up in Columbiana County, and has a degree in agricultural science from Cornell University. He is the owner and operator of Fall Creek Farm, which grows 32 types of crops organically that are sold at markets and to restaurants. If elected, Russell said he would grow fewer kinds of crops.
“I want to run to improve people’s chances to make it on their own,” Russell said. “People feel like they’re stuck and kind of spinning their wheels. I hear that now in Mount Vernon, Westerville and Sunbury when I’m knocking on doors.”
Infrastructure is one of the issues Russell wants to focus on.
“Building roads, bridges and Internet capacity puts people to work while improving our communities,” he said. “That’s something everybody can get behind.”
For farmers, Russell would look into changing the Current Agricultural Use Value formula to prevent drastic property tax increases.
“Commodity prices were really high in 2013. Now they’re really low,” he said. “But the tax rate that went up because that farmland was more valuable is now still up when prices are way down. We’re feeling a big pinch.”
Preventing drug abuse is an issue Russell said is personal to him, because some of his high school classmates have died from heroin abuse that began with prescription pill addiction. Russell said he would tighten opioid prescriptions, encourage their disposal from home medicine cabinets, and provide a pathway to recovery for addicts.
Practical education is another campaign issue for Russell.
“I want to emphasize skilled-trade training and financial literacy in our schools,” he said.
Russell was the only Democrat to file for the seat, so he will be unopposed in the March primary. His opponent in the November general election will also be determined in the primary.
Incumbent State Rep. Margaret Ann Ruhl, a Republican from Mount Vernon, will vacate her seat at the end of 2016 due to term limits. In Ohio, state representatives are term-limited after eight years or four terms. Ruhl is serving her fourth term.
The five candidates seeking the Republican nomination for Ruhl’s open seat are: W. Myles Bancroft from Delaware County, who works in the insurance industry; Genoa Township Trustee Rick Carfagna, who was endorsed by the Delaware County Republican Party; Beth Lear from Delaware County, a legislative policy analyst; Patrick Quinn from Knox County, who owns an Internet service business; and Jason Rogers, a member of the Centerburg school board who was endorsed by the Knox County Republican Party.
Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0904 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.