Ohio2006 Blog

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Thursday, October 5

Ohio House 72nd: Henry (D) Ready to Serve the Average Citizen

Dale Henry (D-Springfield) is a great candidate running in the 72nd Ohio House District against Rep. Ross McGregor (R-Springfield). This district includes the City of Springfield and most of Clark County. Henry served on the Springfield City Commission from 1990 to 1997 (including serving as Mayor and Assistant Mayor) and on the Clark County Board of Elections from 2000 to 2003. Previously he worked at General Motors for 30 years, and he's now a substitute teacher in the Springfield public schools. Throughout all of this he has built up an impressive record of service with civic, charitable, and community service organizations.

Henry is running because he saw that "the middle class is suffering," and that Clark County needs "someone in the legislature who understand the struggles of working families." And, he says, "we offer the best hope for residents of the district." Having worked thirty years for General Motors, mostly on the assembly line, Henry "understands what it's like" for families who "need to make ends meet and live paycheck to paycheck," and at the same time raise a family. "With the dynamics of that," the middle class needs "a representative who understands what they're going through."

Clark County, Henry explained, has a higher unemployment rate than the state or the nation. "What I feel is necessary is for us to train people for the types of jobs we want to attract to the area." The Clark County Commission has established a "Work-Plus Center," and Henry believes that he could expand on that. He would like to form a round table of all the stakeholders in education (colleges and universities), labor, business, and local and state leadership, and "come up with a strategy on education and how it's related to all the other issues," including education and health care. "We need to make education a priority," he said. We need to "put it at the center of all we do." He said that there is a "connectedness between education and jobs and economic development, and we need to focus more on the relationship there."

Henry has been canvassing door-to-door extensively, as a result of which he thinks he's lost about 15 pounds. Asked about the concerns of voters on the doorstep, he said that they are "adamant that we need a change in government." They say they want "a better return" from their representatives, and that they are "under-represented and overtaxed." Henry feels there is a "consensus" that people are "ready to vote for new leadership."

Henry's opponent, Rep. Ross McGregor (R-Springfield), has accused him of not paying his state income taxes. Henry emphatically disputes this attack. "We've paid our taxes, we've worked hard to make sure our taxes are paid," he said. "We had a family emergency come up, so we needed to arrange a payment plan for our tax obligations, that's all." Henry points out that a lot of people find it necessary to do this on occasion, and he is "part of the mainstream of Americans" in how this situation was handled. Henry feels it is unfair for McGregor to attack him on this, especially since the taxing authorities agreed to the payment plan. He also said that he understands that his opponent has had outstanding property tax obligations on his three residential properties.

When I commented on Henry's long record of civic and charitable activity, he said that he has "worked hard to position myself to serve at this level." His goal is to be an "agent for change, working on behalf of the average citizen." He wants to represent "every segment of the community," unlike his opponent who he fears "serves the rich and the greedy and big corporations." He is also proud to note that Clark County has never had an African-American serve in any public position higher than city hall, so his serving as a state representative would be an historic achievement.

Henry will participate in a Health Care Forum on Monday, October 9th at 7:00 pm at Mt. Zion Baptist Church, 1171 South Yellow Spring Street in Springfield. He is also scheduled to appear at two candidate forums on Thursday, October 19th -- at 11:30 am at the Marriott Hotel in Springfield, sponsored by the Springfield/Clark County Leadership Society, and at 6:00pm at City Hall, sponsored by TASK (Teachers and Students for Kids).

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