POMEROY — Taylor Sappington, (D) has begun his campaign for State Representative in a bid to unseat Ohio 94th House District Rep. Jay Edwards, (R) in the November election. Running unopposed on the May primary ballot, Sappington said he is using the time to talk to people in the district.
Sappington has said he thinks this is the most important election in his lifetime because “people are done with bought and paid for politicians. They want to make a living and have a chance; things become too complicated by politics. The backbone of our campaign is ‘change things’ and to ‘empower people.’
“We need to have a conversation. We need to listen to the concerns of our district.”
The Nelsonville City Council member said he will bring the voice of the people in the 94th district to the State House, and in order to do so, he is asking residents to share what the most important issues are to them, and believes the way to gather that information is to meet directly in small gatherings and listen to what is being shared.
As part of his “Listening Tour,” Sappington is conducting a series of meet and greets, and the Pomeroy Library was the venue last Thursday.
Participants shared several concerns: small town revitalization, access to the best health care, competitive pay rates, internet access, and providing resources students need to compete.
Sappington advocates for infrastructure development as a means of solving many problems facing rural areas.
“To create jobs, to attract manufacturing businesses, we need infrastructure,” he said, and added that health care, competitive pay rates and student resources are as essential as good roads.
“We need a New Deal system for internet development similar to the one that electrified rural areas,” he said. “Things would run better if we gave workers what they need to do the job.”
Several students were on hand to share concerns, including a recent graduate of Ohio University who said he had a science degree and student loans. He wants to stay in the area, but is unable to find a job with a competitive salary.
A high school student questioned whether his transcript would stand up to other schools with more resources. With other schools being able to offer more advanced placement courses and online resources, he said many students from rural areas feel behind when they enter college or technical schools.
When addressing health care, Sappington said, “If Washington is going to fail at health care, then the State of Ohio needs to step up. No one should be putting off medical or mental health care because of a lack of insurance or high out of pocket costs.”
He said insurance premiums are unsustainable under the current conditions, and he supports a single payer system.
Sappington said the 94th district is not getting its fair share of the Capital Budget, and he would work to make sure the district received an equal proportion of the funds.
He questioned the distribution of the Education General Fund, and said levels need to be changed to help rural districts compete with suburban schools.
“We also need to build skills by allowing students to interact with instructors and by providing programs that will help our students stay competitive.”
Sappington ended by saying that “We are not the major cities, but we have something far more unique. We have a community in these hills. Only when we come together, stand up, and be counted can we bend their ear to what is happening in our towns.”
Lorna Hart is a freelance writer for The Daily Sentinel.