It’s been several years since I’ve written to you, and even longer since I delivered this very paper as a middle schooler at Bunsold. I grew up in Marysville, graduated MHS in 2013, and was even fortunate enough to speak at commencement, attributing in part my success, grit, dreams, and beliefs to my upbringing here. It’s in that vein that I write to you today- a proud graduate, one with family still in the schools and who love this community, but also, a concerned brother and son who’s seeing our growth and potential as a city and state tainted by radical partisanship.
Every two years, all Ohio General Assembly legislators are up for reelection. In 2018, Tracy Richardson won our district race, representing us, our families, and our interest in Columbus. Unbeknownst to many, including myself until recently, is just how powerful the State Legislature is, especially when, like in Ohio, it’s controlled by such a large majority by one party. What often gets buried under national news can be quite striking.
You may recall former Ohio Director of Health Dr. Amy Acton. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, she led our state’s initial response with grace, empathy, humor, and intellect. In fact, she had grown so popular that fan pages were popping up on Facebook, praising her leadership. Yet in early May, Tracy and every other Republican in Columbus except two, voted to limit Dr. Acton’s power as a duly appointed official. Why would Tracy, with no public health background, look to sidestep a subject matter expert who was trying to keep us safe?
In the following weeks, Tracy also voted down efforts to prohibit the sale of Confederate flags at county fairs and proposals to declare racism a public health crisis in the midst of the George Floyd marches. Most recently, the leader of the General Assembly, Larry Householder, became suspect in a $60 million racketeering and bribery scandal. Tracy voted for him as Speaker in 2018 (despite a previous criminal history), received $8,300 from Householder himself, and received $10,000 from First Energy, the suspect enterprise who used its financial position to bribe legislators to bail out their failing energy plants while gutting clean energy standards.
It’s easy to get lost in smiles and pleasantries, but what we learned as kids holds true today- the most dangerous wolf is one in sheep’s clothing. Tracy often touts her past political experience and prestigious undergraduate education as reasons why she is fit to lead. The purpose of this piece is not to dispute their credibility, but to argue that those experiences alone, as evidenced above, do not yield moral clarity. I know that to be true because the coaches and teachers I grew up learning from in Marysville know better, and because of their leadership, I do, too. It is clear Tracy is not accountable to the voters she represents, as her votes do not represent our values. And that, my friends, is worth asking why?