Angry at the flow of money out of Lorain County and south to Columbus, Joe Miller is throwing his hat into the race for Ohio’s 56th House District.
“This is the state of Ohio, not the state of Columbus. And I think we need to bring that truth to power,” he said after announcing his candidacy.
Miller is a government teacher at Firelands High School. He lost an Amherst city council bid in 2011 but was elected to an at-large seat the following year; he’s served there the past five years and this November was re-upped for another two-year term without contest.
A Democrat, he hopes to fill the seat being vacated by Dan Ramos (D-Lorain), who is ineligible to seek reelection due to term limits.
Ramos did an excellent job of fighting battles in a partisan statehouse, according to Miller. “My goal is to continue to educate our legislators — who a lot of times are not living in the real world — about what it’s like to face the kinds of challenges we do in Lorain County,” he said.
He argued that the Republican-controlled General Assembly has focused on “very oppressive legislation” that has drained resources from local governments, including cities and school districts, and left taxpayers to carry the burden in the form of levies and bond issues.
Failing financial support and union-busting attempts aimed at teachers have taken a toll on the education system, which in turn has put a dent in Ohio’s ability to field a well-trained workforce, said Miller.
The result: Companies don’t see Lorain County as a place to invest, so job opportunities here are slim, he said.
Miller said he wants to champion policies that will lead to new opportunities in production, engineering, education, vocational fields, and technology.
Columbus has done a good job of investing most of our tax dollars in Columbus, which is growing, but at the expense of Lorain County, Miller said. “We used to get grants from the state to do projects to improve opportunities for the people who live here. Most of that is drying up,” he said.
Fixing the state’s problems will mean working across the political aisle. The divide at the statehouse is wide — Republicans control 65 percent of seats in the House of Representatives and 70 percent of seats in the Senate.
Even at home, the 56th District has swung from deep blue to purple in the past couple of years. Across Lorain County, there was a nearly 50-50 split between presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump in 2016.
Miller said he believes the balanced political makeup of the county is a good thing and he wants to represent everyone, not just Democrats. His goal if elected, he said, will be to seek more equitable legislation that benefits the many, not the Columbus elite.
In Amherst, he’s worked with a Republican-dominated city council and administration and has engaged in a fair share of disagreements over the years.
“But in the end, I think when we communicate our interest in helping all residents, good things happen. I think that’s what needs to happen in Columbus,” Miller said.
Jason Hawk can be reached at 440-988-2801 or @EditorHawk on Twitter.