The Democratic Primary for US Representative is a crowded one. Ronny Richards hopes he is the one that emerges from that crowd to take on incumbent Republican Brad Wenstrup in the fall.
Richards is one of four candidates in the primary. Marek Tyszkiewicz, John Sheil and William Smith are the others. Other candidates will be featured before the May 4 primary.
Richards hails from Scioto County. He lives in a rural community which borders the Adams/Scioto County line off of US 52 with Shawnee State Forest in his back yard. He retired after 27 years from the Ohio Division of Forestry. He farms a large garden and takes his produce to the local farmers’ markets. He also collects tree sap in the spring to make maple syrup. In past years that was 70 gallons, but this year it will just be 25 gallons for two reasons. One, it was a bad year and two, he has been crisscrossing the Second Congressional District seeking votes. He has been campaigning since early last year when he started showing up at local Democratic events.
Richards hopes voters in Adams and Brown counties will identify with him because, as he says, he is “the populist candidate.”
“I have always been a working Joe. I see the world through those eyes,” said Richards. “As a laborer on the lower end of the pay scale. I empathize with people that are out there working for a living. Hard working families that are scratching to make a living… that’s me.
“Here is the difference between me and the typical representative in the House of Representatives. When the House of Representatives was first set up it was the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker. What we have now … they are all doctors and lawyers. They see the world through their eyes.
“So how are they going to empathsize with you or I?”
A very big issue in rural parts of the district involves the future of energy. The district includes three coal-fired power plants along the Ohio River and nuclear facility in Piketon. All are big employers in this areas they are located.
“We have coal and (will) continue to have coal, but eventually we are going to move to green energy. It is absolutely imperative that we do so for the health of the planet. We have to bring down CO2 emissions…
“I have told those guys that work at the power plants, and they are not dumb, they know that sooner or later different things are going to be happening in the Second Congressional District as far as energy goes. We can lead the way in that. I want to make sure that their children and their grandchildren are not working at those power plants. That their grandchildren are on the ground floor of a green energy future.”
Richards thinks his district can become a player in the green energy job market.
“I don’t see any reason we can’t do that in the Second Congressional District,” said Richards. “We can look at models where it is working. If you look at Germany they have taken eight of their 15 nuclear plants off line and they are looking at taking the rest of them offline by 2022. The way they are doing it is with solar panels and wind.”
Also in this district is a nuclear facility at Piketon.
“The solution is exactly the same as with the power plants. Not one job leaves Piketon. Not one job leaves Killen Station or any of the other coal fired plants until the (green) jobs are in place.”
Richard believes in turning public dollars into public investment.
“The same thing we did during World War II,” said Richards. “This is going to take courage. There is so much resistance to change.”
He accuses the state of being sold out to corporate interests. He compares it to the old Calvin Coolidge saying, “the business of America is business. That’s what John Kasich believes. It’s status quo.
“Money can’t always be the bottom line.”
Obamacare has certainly been a hot topic in Washington especially in the House.
“Fix it. Don’t scrap it,” said Richards. “If there are things that are wrong with the system we need to fix those.”
Candidates hear many things as they campaign.
“I hear more people say that they are helped, than they are hurt (by Obamacare),” said Richards.
So how does he propose to fix the gridlock that ails Washington?
“I am one of the most reasonable people there ever was,” said Richards. “I have been a facilitator and a compromiser all my life. I can work with anybody who is willing to further the greater interests of the American people.
“I am not going up there to make enemies. I am going up there to extend a hand to see what we can do together. I realize positions differ left and right, but I think there is common ground. If we put the American people first … then I think we can come together and say, what can we do to make one person’s life better? What can we do to 100 lives’ better?”