Editor’s Note: As we approach the November General Election, The Daily Sentinel will be running articles allowing the candidates in contested races to introduce themselves and tell the voters why they are running for office. Each candidate is asked, in their own words, to respond to two questions — tell us about yourself and why are you running for this office.
MEIGS COUNTY — Voters will be deciding between two candidates in the race for the 94th District in the Ohio House of Representatives — incumbent Jay Edwards (R) and Democrat challenger Katie O’Neill.
Candidates, along with their responses submitted to The Daily Sentinel, are listed below in alphabetical order.
Tell us about yourself:
State Representative Jay Edwards (R-Nelsonville) is serving his second term as state representative and represents Ohio’s 94th District, which includes Athens, Meigs, Washington and Vinton counties.
His number one priority is to give Southeast Ohio a strong voice in Columbus and improve opportunities and the quality of life for the region and its people. He has been a leading voice at the Statehouse for keeping and creating jobs in Appalachia, and improving educational opportunities and healthcare.
Edwards’ bipartisan approach to solving problems and his commitment to Southeast Ohio has earned him the support of Democrats, Independents and Republicans. He has consistently been endorsed by groups representing business and labor. He is a member of the NRA and has long been a trusted leader who has worked to protect our freedoms and our rights.
Edwards was born and raised in Nelsonville and attended Ohio University on a football scholarship receiving his degree in Mathematics. While in college he started investing in local real estate. Through educated decision making, hard work, and conservatism, Edwards was able to grow that business throughout his college career and also got a real estate license to start representing buyers and sellers in the area. He is a small business owner, a realtor, and a property investor.
Jay has been endorsed by nearly every public and private labor group including the Ohio Education Association. He is dedicated to always standing up for the working men and women in our area.
Why I decided to run for this office?
I decided to run for the Ohio House to give Southeast Ohio a strong voice in Columbus. Since taking office, I have worked to keep and create jobs, and improve education and healthcare. I have also worked to help safely and responsibly reopen Ohio in the wake of COVID-19, and have consistently supported our first responders, healthcare professionals and others serving our community.
One of my priorities in the state budget was to reinstate funding for the rural industrial park loan program, which helps rural Ohio attract and retain jobs. Funding for this program was eliminated several years ago. Working with community leaders in Southeast Ohio, we secured $25 million for the program. One of the first beneficiaries of this program has been the East Meigs Industrial Park. This project will support jobs in our area for years to come.
I fought for record funding for K-12 education and helped pass legislation to help rural schools purchase school buses. This is the first time since 2009 the state has directly supported the cost of school bus replacement and it’s helping schools in our area, including Eastern Local, Meigs Local and Southern Local.
I have worked to increase aid to help low income students attend college, and supported funding for the iBELIEVE Foundation to provide opportunities for Appalachian youth to develop leadership and problem-solving skills.
Most importantly, I have made constituent services a top priority to help the citizens of the 94th District with a wide range of state-government related issues. I am proud to have earned the support of Democrats, Republicans and Independents in Meigs County and throughout Southeast Ohio.
Tell us about yourself:
Katie O’Neill was raised in a public service family in Chagrin Falls, Ohio, where she was taught that you help those in need, care for those who are sick, and work for the greater good with integrity. A graduate of Vermont Law School, Katie holds a Juris Doctorate of Environmental Law, and a Master’s of Energy Regulation and Law — two degrees that she is ready to put to work on behalf of Southeast Ohio.
Katie first moved to the region in 2009 to study at Ohio University. She graduated in 2013 with a bachelor’s degree specializing in History and the Environment. After graduation she remained in Athens and connected with local farmers and businesses as the Sponsorship Coordinator for the Ohio Paw Paw Festival. In 2014, she managed the Athens County Democratic Headquarters before continuing her education in Vermont. While there she was an elected council member of the Bethel Conservation Commission from 2017 to 2019. Upon completion of her law degree in 2019, she moved to Nelsonville, Ohio, to run for Ohio House District 94.
Katie has been involved with community organizing and politics since her teens; she was most notably campaign manager and senior advisor for William O’Neill, her father, who won his campaign for the Supreme Court of Ohio by 71.3 percent in 2012. Katie worked tirelessly on the referendum effort to repeal House Bill 6, the nuclear bailout that is currently under investigation for charges of racketeering.
Why I decided to run for this office?
Ohio has historic roots in competitive innovation, and we need leadership built on integrity, education, and community to continue its growth.
A lover and student of history, I am well-versed in the origins of this state. Our region began the founding of Ohio in 1803 with the Northwest Ordinance of 1787. We have forest and farmlands, coal and salt mines, and our world-famous brick kilns that can sustain for centuries through our seasonal weather. Southeast Ohio has always been a place of production, but in the face of climate change we must transition to sustainable production in our energy use, farming practices, infrastructure, and transportation.
Did you know that Ohio leads the Midwest in Renewable Energy jobs with 114,000 workers at the end of 2019? There is national and global competition for the renewable energy sector, and we are doing the work—but we must lead the narrative and stop the fossil fuel interests from constricting our progress. As of June 2020, there are 14 SE Ohio municipalities running on 100 percent renewable energy in partnership with SOPEC. Renewable energy creates local jobs in energy efficiency and lowers our cost of living; it is the bridge to a clean environment and economic resilience.
My degrees in Energy Regulation & Law and Environmental Law are essential to shaping policy that promotes sustainability of Ohio’s natural resources. We must protect our citizens by adhering to the Clean Water Act. We must hold corporations accountable for their pollution while also fostering entrepreneurial solutions to water issues and beyond. Critical to economic growth is bringing broadband access to all rural communities, but it is just as important to bring broadband to our students to increase access to educational opportunities. Learn more at www.ohiohouseoneill.com. Vote Katie O’Neill for Ohio House District 94.
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