By BRET BEVENS
Southern Ohio Today
The Ohio State House of Representatives will have a new member representing the 92nd District. The 92nd contains parts of Ross and Pickaway counties and all of Fayette County.
Rep. Gary Scherer is not seeking re-election and the race boils down to Republican Mark Johnson and Democrat Beth Workman.
Johnson is a native of Portsmouth, but today makes his home in Chillicothe. He went through the Carpenter’s Union Apprenticeship Program.
“It’s not an easy program,” Johnson said. “A lot of people want to downgrade apprenticeship programs, but most of those people have never stepped foot inside any of our training centers.”
Johnson said he worked for a large contractor in Columbus and worked at Grant Hospital and then the company landed a job in Dearborn, Michigan.
“I went up there with a pickup truck and a gang box,” Johnson said. “I bought my materials locally, hired people out the different union halls and when we got that job done, we made a 42 percent profit.”
After the project in Michigan, Johnson returned to Columbus and was a superintendent for 17 years with the same company. Johnson said the company is still in business today. After being a superintendent for 17 years, he became the Business Agent for the Portsmouth Carpenter’s Local for 10 years.
Johnson said he believes he is right for the job because he possesses the right skills and virtues.
“I believe I have the virtues to emulate the current representative, Gary Scherer,” Johnson said. “I think Gary (Scherer) is a decent man and has done OK. I think what I bring to the table is honesty, integrity and common sense.”
Johnson said he plans to bring in private industry jobs. He also wants to promote apprenticeships an improve the vocational training for the district. Johnson said he is proud to be endorsed by the National Federation of Independent Business.
Johnson also wants to take control of the schools out of the hands of officeholders and give it back to the Boards of Education.
“I support HB 305 which revises the funding for K through 12 schools,” Johnson said. “I’m OK with returning the control of these back to the local schools and letting the teachers teach.”
With regards to the Opioid crisis, Johnson said he would like to see a grading system of local drug treatment centers.
Workman is a native of Waverly and was Valedictorian of her Waverly High School graduating class and captain of the Tigers volleyball team. Workman is taking her second shot at the seat after losing to Scherer in 2018.
After high school, Workman first attended Miami University before heading to Ohio State University. She was a stay-at-home mom for 17 years and has four children. Workman later returned to college and earned her degree in Elementary Education from Ohio University.
After graduating, Workman taught 4th grade and junior high school science for 16 years in the Paint Valley Local School District.
Workman said that the lack of equality in terms of resources in education is what really made her want to run in 2018.
“I knew kids at Paint Valley didn’t have the things that other kids had,” Workman said.
Workman had accepted that, but when the state came up with a new evaluation system, she became frustrated by a system she says was unfair to teachers in districts with more challenging socio-economic circumstances.
“I just wasn’t into politics (in 2018),” Workman said. “A lot of it was just meeting people in the party, because they didn’t know me and I didn’t know them.”
Workman now thinks the ideas she had to create as a teacher makes her a good choice for the office.
“My best ideas came to me on the spot,” Workman said. “I feel, as a representative, I would come up with new ideas. I feel like part the problem in the state and the country is we keep doing the same things over and over and there aren’t new ideas being tried.”
Workman also thinks too many decisions and too much policymaking in Columbus are driven by special interest groups.
“My decisions will not be by made by special interests,” Workman said. “I want to be the representative that knows the people, knows what they need.”
Workman has been endorsed by the Ohio Federation of Teachers, Ohio BAT’s, the Ohio Association of Public School Employees, the OEA Fund for Children and Public Education and AFSCME Power In Action.
The election is Nov. 3 with polls opening at 6:30 a.m. and closing at 7:30 p.m.