Born to parents Amy and Tom who both were strong members of AFSCME, I grew up with my younger brother Spencer. Coming to Nelsonville in 2002, we learned how to work hard, think for ourselves, and to never give up. My mother walked into work one day and received what every workers dreads: the pink slip. The company was downsizing and the welfare of our family was thrown into deep uncertainty.
During elementary and middle school, I remember feeling that the pressure was building on us. Late notices came in the mail, we stopped eating out, we didn't shop. Eventually, they took our lifeline for any Appalachian family: the car. I even remember the electricity being shut off. Despite the rapid dip into hardship, mom worked harder than any person I know to keep our lives as normal as possible relative to our friends. She worked on her education, she came back one day crying because we were only offered a few bucks in SNAP benefits a month, and she made every single dollar that came into the family stretch ten times farther than before. Sometimes I wonder how she ever kept it together with all the walls closing in on us.
But with each sunrise over our hillside, we got a little bit farther from the worst. My brother and I graduated high school, mom graduated from Hocking College, and I walked across the stage at Ohio University. The proudest day of my life, which came just a couple weeks before my swearing in as City Councilman for my proud city of Nelsonville. Mom has her first home and Spencer proudly works in corrections for the State of Ohio.
While on Nelsonville City Council, I wrote and we passed the city's first and only balanced budget requirement. It forces city councils to pass budgets that are responsible with the citizens' money. Through hard work from the employees and city leadership, 2017 was the first year in a decade that the city's bank account held steady instead of dropping further into crisis. During my time, we have also instituted our town's first curbside recycling and turned around a struggling city pool and guaranteed it many more years.
I was raised in a regular family that just had a lot of fight in it when the times got rough. Not too different from most of the folks I know in Southeast Ohio. People don't want a handout. They just want a fair shot at a dignified life. They want to just feel like their politicians hear them and aren't wholesale bought and sold to the highest bidder. I am in this campaign to fight to the very last for these folks because I know their struggle personally. And I won't rest until they've been heard.