Garrison discusses issues in race for House seat

STEUBENVILLE – Jennifer Garrison likes to describe herself as a mother, wife, attorney and former state legislator.

She now wants to add congresswoman to her personal resume.

The Marietta Democrat is running in the November general election for chance to represent Eastern Ohio against two-term U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson, R-Marietta, and has been making the rounds of local media as well as the standard community events in the sprawling district that runs along the Ohio River.

“When I was in the Ohio House of Representatives for three terms, I looked out for seniors, kids and working families as well as women. During his two terms in the Congress, Bill Johnson has voted 39 times against labor and voted for $700 billion in cut to Medicare. That is unacceptable,” Garrison told members of the Herald-Star editorial board this week.

The “independent Democrat” is hoping organized labor will help her defeat Johnson in November.

A November 2013 appearance at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 246 union hall in Steubenville and at the Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 168 union hall in Marietta saw several labor unions announce their support for Garrison.

“My father is a 50-year member of the Plumbers and Pipefitters. I understand what unions have done for our working-class citizens. And, I believe it is important we have someone in Washington, D.C., who stands for working-class people,” proclaimed Garrison during the 2013 campaign appearance.

Garrison said funding for her campaign is critical and admitted Johnson has been successful in raising campaign money.

Johnson’s campaign staff announced this week he has raised $1.2 million so far for his re-election. Garrison said her campaign finances will be reported on Tuesday.

Garrison said her Marietta-based law practice is focused on land leases in the growing oil and gas industry.

“I have been part of a jobs creation movement. I work to negotiate land leases and pipeline right of ways that will see people put to work in the shale play taking place in our part of the state,” noted Garrison.

“We need people in the Congress who work together for common-sense solutions. Washington is broken. I believe we can do a better job of bringing people together. I don’t think we are getting that from our current congressman. I want to see people elected who represent everyone in Eastern Ohio,” continued Garrison.

During her meeting with the Herald-Star editorial board, Garrison cited her support of education issues and her involvement with a Marietta domestic violence agency as well as issues she views as key to voters across the region.

“I am pro-coal, pro-2nd Amendment and pro-life. Bill Johnson is in Congress today because he ran against Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama. I am not Nancy Pelosi and I am not Barack Obama. I am an independent Democrat. And I am an Appalachian Democrat, not a national Democrat,” stated Garrison.

She also cited a dysfunctional Congress, “with a 10 percent approval rating.”

“I will be bipartisan in the Congress. My goal is to work with all sides of the issues. We have the greatest country in the world, but I know I will be facing very nasty campaign advertising. It is wrong because we are undermining the confidence people have in our institutions,” she commented.

“I believe people will be electing independent thinkers this year. My political models are Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania. They are pragmatic, center-of-the-road legislators. Voters are looking for more people who represent everyone, not just one party. That’s why I am running for Congress,” said Garrison.

“I have three kids and I need them to believe in the system. I am not doing this for the money. I believe I could have run for a fourth term as state representative and won. I am running because I want to restore the integrity of our institutions. I believe we should be honest and believe in what you believe in. I am not a naive person. I believe accountability is a great way to keep people honest. And, I will let people know how I vote on every issue,” pledged Garrison.

She also distanced herself from President Obama during the interview on several issues, including health care.

“I would not have voted for the Affordable Care Act, but that train has left the station. We need to work together to fix the issues. Unfortunately, we take an issue and raise funds for it and then split Americans around the issues. We need to work together. Obama is still the president, so let’s fix the issues,” she declared.

“Coal is also very important for for this part of Ohio. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency came out with regulations that went too far. The regulations went too far for the powerhouses that use Ohio coal. This is another example for the need to work together in Washington, D.C.,” remarked Garrison.

Garrison said the national minimum wage should be indexed to the national inflation rate.

“The minimum wage should be increased and then tie it to inflation. Get the minimum wage out of the hands of politicians,” she said.

She also promised to conduct seven debates in seven media markets in the congressional district with or without Johnson.

“Bill Johnson speaks only through mailings or telephone townhall meetings that are scripted. During the recent government shutdown, Bill Johnson was spending federal money to hold telephone townhall meetings. I want to participate in a debate where we will state our position on the issues,” Garrison said.

Other issues discussed during the meeting in Steubenville included Iraq, immigration and the recent Supreme Court ruling on health care that involves private corporations.

“I believe our families and country have given a lot during the last 10 years in Iraq. We need to do everything we can to make sure terrorists are not threatening our people in this country. We need to keep an eye on the situation in Iraq. And, we need to continue our support for Israel. But, I also believe the people of Iraq should decide what they want in their country,” Garrison said.

“We need to secure our borders. Our country is facing a humanitarian nightmare with the number of children coming across our borders. These children are victims of a violent environment in their own country. We spend so much money all over the world, so maybe its time to look at Central America and consider spending some of that money where it will help the people who are trying to send their children to America. Can you imagine a parent so desperate they give their child to a smuggler to take to the United States?” continued Garrison.

“As far as the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on the Hobby Lobby case, it is an interesting issue. I am pro-prevention and pro-life. This is a private company that views birth control pills as an abortion. This is an issue I need to continue to learn more about. Birth control helps stop unwanted pregnancies. I am looking at the ruling and trying to figure out the legal ramifications,” Garrison said.

“I believe I can do the best job for Eastern Ohio. Its that simple,” Garrison stated.