If ever there was a time
for political engagement, it is right now. The commemoration
of the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther Kingís
death along with the concurrent Black Lives Matter, Me Too,
and Never Again or March for Our Lives movements signal the
coming together of several reactants with the potential to
produce explosive change.
There also exists a rare
and timely opportunity to shift the power dynamic in the
Ohio Legislature and office of the Governor, should we turn
out in sizable numbers for the May 8 primary and the early
voting which begins April 10. To do so, will fittingly honor
the legacy of Martin Luther King, who, along with many
others of the civil rights movement, were martyrs for the
right of all to have access to the ballot.
I caught up with the
ďhardest-working man in politics,Ē Michael Ashford, the
endorsed Democratic Party candidate for Ohio Senate District
11. We discussed his current campaign and the importance of
taking advantage of this rare opportunity for change.
Itís great to speak with you. What are you trying to
accomplish through your candidacy for Ohio Senate District
Well, Iím mission driven to continue to be a voice for our
community and for the entire Lucas County as a state
senator. Iíve been a voice in Columbus for the last seven
years and Iíve worked hard on behalf of northwest Ohio
because we are sometimes forgotten in making sure that we
get our fair share of tax dollars, our fair share of money
for infrastructure or for people to understand how important
it is for us to take care of our seniors and for kids, their
ability to go to college, and also to address our high
energy costs which we really need to lower some of our
energy bills. So thereís a lot of work in the State of Ohio
and I continue to be fortunate to have people who support
that mission and to continue to move forward.
As state rep, what have you been able to accomplish over the
past seven years from a tangible aspect?
Well, let me just say thatís a great question, because I
think that the local media does not do a very good job of
telling the story of our local state repsí activity in
Columbus, and people in northwest Ohio always complain about
well, Ďwe see Cincinnati, Dayton, Cleveland and Columbus get
their fair share, but not us.í Itís because the media sends
people down there to talk about what is coming out of
Columbus and what is being allocated, what laws are being
voted on. So what I have done is to make sure that Iíve
also communicated my outcomes to my residents and
constituents in House District 48 when I first went down
there, now House District 44. Iíve been as visible as
Iíve currently sent out
3100 emails. Iíve sent out 500 newsletters. Iím on radio
station WMIX, the Mix 95.7, every morning to talk about the
issues in Columbus that affect our community as well as just
getting out and going to all of the community events.
So when you talk about
tangible things, letís talk about the fact that people
sometimes say Ďwell what have you brought back for the black
community?í And I say Iíve been a big supporter of a couple
things that affect people working here.
One is that they look at
my track record and say, Ďwell the University of Toledo (UT)
gets a lot of money from the capital projects,í and I say
they sure do, but you have to understand there are a lot of
people of color that work at UT. There are two unions,
Communications Workers of America (CWA) and American
Federation of State County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME)
that have a large black representation. There are
custodians, professors; there are administrative people that
live in our community and work at UT. This is the same for
public education. When you look at the money I bring back
here as a supporter and advocate of public education, you
must also look at the people of color who work there. They
are teachers, administrators, paraprofessionals, bus drivers
or custodians. So I have made sure that the people of our
community have reaped the benefits of capital projects. And
sometimes it goes unnoticed that people who are connected to
the state dollars are getting jobs or retaining jobs.
Over the past seven years
Iíve been able to bring back $90 million, which went into
some of those areas as well as for ODOT and local
engineers. A lot of people work with the local engineers,
repairing our roads and our highways. Even if you work
downtown in or around COSI, the zoo, the art museum,
Valentine Theatre, which are all in my district. We keep
people working through making sure that we support the
infrastructure and being able to provide service.
How would you describe the makeup of your constituency in
Senate District 11?
I think it will probably be 68 percent white and probably 30
percent plus African Americans and others.
Will that present a challenge for you?
Oh, absolutely not. I think what happens is that people
want to know exactly what you do for them, and you have to
remember that race has never been an issue in this county.
When I say countywide, we had Bill Copeland, who served as a
long-time county commissioner and race was never a factor.
We have currently Phil Copeland. Weíve had Edna Brown who
was the first African-American woman state senator. Weíve
had three different African-American mayors, so they want to
look at your character, they want to look at your track
record, they want to make sure that you continue to make
sure that youíre a voice for northwest Ohio.
You are also the ranking member of the Ohio Representativesí
Public Utilities committee, a very important assignment
Yes, let me tell you about the importance of public
utilities. Public Utilities is probably the second most
important committee out there right behind finance. It deals
with every energy company out there from whether or not
youíre a gas company, whether or not youíre a nuclear plant,
whether or not youíre a coal plant or an electrical plant.
And, more importantly, it deals with the safety issues, it
deals with economic development, it deals with also how do
we make sure that our customers throughout the state are
getting a fair price. So thatís very important we make sure
that homes are being kept safe through low energy costs.
Iíve worked with First
Energy, Toledo Edison, Iíve worked with Columbia Gas and
with Duke Energy just about everybody else out there in the
industry, to make sure that the Democratic voices are heard
and that everything is fair and balanced.
So what is your message in this contest?
This is what my message is and my opponent has a different
theme, but my message is very clear. People want resources
to return here from Columbus and want me to address the
infrastructure to make sure that we create and retain jobs
in northwest Ohio, especially in my community. I want to
make sure that we look out for our seniors and just recently
I was able to make sure that the Area Office of Aging
received like $225,000 to help low-income seniors complete
repairs in their homes. So people will see that I was a big
advocate for things like that.
This year, I have also
sponsored House Bill 123 and itís a payday lending bill, and
believe it or not in our community, one in five people in
our community are affected by predatory payday lending, that
negatively affects their ability to move ahead financially,
and so that bill will make sure that instead of somebody
going in for and emergency loan and getting $300, they donít
have to end up paying back almost $1000 or almost 590
percent on a $300 loan, so thatís very crucial.
How do you differentiate your candidacy from your opponent
in the May primary, Teresa Fedor?
Well, my message is totally different. My message deals
with a variety of issues that affect everybodyís household.
The number one priority that people want is can you get us
money to help our infrastructure? Yes. What will you do
about economic development and retention of jobs? How will
you address and support our seniors? How are you going to
make sure our kids can go to college without leaving a whole
lot of debt? What about public education? How do we
address the opiate crisis?
My platform is just not
one or two issues, my platform addresses almost every
household in Lucas County, so thatís how my platform differs
from my opponentís. It crosses every gender, every
household, every ethnic makeup, every background out there,
thatís what it touches, all of those households.
Okay, in the event that you do not prevail in the contest,
where do you go from here?
Well, you know what? Thatís a good question and itís not a
difficult question. Most people who go into any type of
campaign, at least 99 percent of them, go in with the fact
that they want to win. They go in with the idea that they
are going to work hard, theyíve got great volunteers,
theyíre knocking on doors, theyíre making phone calls, and
they have a political strategy that they want to follow. I
donít think Iíve found anybody yet that says you know Iím
going into this to lose. So I havenít even thought about
losing. My overall strategy is to give 110 percent and move
forward with that. And hereís the other part, youíve got to
stay positive because if you donít, it will affect your
volunteers and ultimately your entire campaign.
Right, so you just leave it all out on the field.
Yeah, give it your all and leave it there.
Thank you much!
All right man.
Contact Rev. Donald Perryman, D.Min, at