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NOW Is the Time

By Rev. Donald L. Perryman, D.Min.
The Truth Contributor

We should not permit our grievances to overshadow our opportunities.

              Ė Booker T. Washington


Rev. Donald L. Perryman, D.Min.

If ever there was a time for political engagement, it is right now. The commemoration of the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther Kingís death along with the concurrent Black Lives Matter, Me Too, and Never Again or March for Our Lives movements signal the coming together of several reactants with the potential to produce explosive change.

There also exists a rare and timely opportunity to shift the power dynamic in the Ohio Legislature and office of the Governor, should we turn out in sizable numbers for the May 8 primary and the early voting which begins April 10. To do so, will fittingly honor the legacy of Martin Luther King, who, along with many others of the civil rights movement, were martyrs for the right of all to have access to the ballot.

I caught up with the ďhardest-working man in politics,Ē Michael Ashford, the endorsed Democratic Party candidate for Ohio Senate District 11. We discussed his current campaign and the importance of taking advantage of this rare opportunity for change.  

Perryman: Itís great to speak with you.  What are you trying to accomplish through your candidacy for Ohio Senate District 11?

Ashford:  Well, Iím mission driven to continue to be a voice for our community and for the entire Lucas County as a state senator.  Iíve been a voice in Columbus for the last seven years and Iíve worked hard on behalf of northwest Ohio because we are sometimes forgotten in making sure that we get our fair share of tax dollars, our fair share of money for infrastructure or for people to understand how important it is for us to take care of our seniors and for kids, their ability to go to college, and also to address our high energy costs which we really need to lower some of our energy bills.  So thereís a lot of work in the State of Ohio and I continue to be fortunate to have people who support that mission and to continue to move forward. 

Perryman: As state rep, what have you been able to accomplish over the past seven years from a tangible aspect? 

Ashford: Well, let me just say thatís a great question, because I think that the local media does not do a very good job of telling the story of our local state repsí activity in Columbus, and people in northwest Ohio always complain about well, Ďwe see Cincinnati, Dayton, Cleveland and Columbus get their fair share, but not us.í Itís because the media sends people down there to talk about what is coming out of Columbus and what is being allocated, what laws are being voted on.  So what I have done is to make sure that Iíve also communicated my outcomes to my residents and constituents in House District 48 when I first went down there, now House District 44. Iíve been as visible as possible. 

Iíve currently sent out 3100 emails. Iíve sent out 500 newsletters. Iím on radio station WMIX, the Mix 95.7, every morning to talk about the issues in Columbus that affect our community as well as just getting out and going to all of the community events. 

So when you talk about tangible things, letís talk about the fact that people sometimes say Ďwell what have you brought back for the black community?í  And I say Iíve been a big supporter of a couple things that affect people working here.

One is that they look at my track record and say, Ďwell the University of Toledo (UT) gets a lot of money from the capital projects,í and I say they sure do, but you have to understand there are a lot of people of color that work at UT.  There are two unions, Communications Workers of America (CWA) and American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) that have a large black representation.  There are custodians, professors; there are administrative people that live in our community and work at UT.  This is the same for public education.  When you look at the money I bring back here as a supporter and advocate of public education, you must also look at the people of color who work there. They are teachers, administrators, paraprofessionals, bus drivers or custodians.  So I have made sure that the people of our community have reaped the benefits of capital projects.  And sometimes it goes unnoticed that people who are connected to the state dollars are getting jobs or retaining jobs. 

Over the past seven years Iíve been able to bring back $90 million, which went into some of those areas as well as for ODOT and local engineers.  A lot of people work with the local engineers, repairing our roads and our highways. Even if you work downtown in or around COSI, the zoo, the art museum, Valentine Theatre, which are all in my district.  We keep people working through making sure that we support the infrastructure and being able to provide service.

Perryman: How would you describe the makeup of your constituency in Senate District 11? 

Ashford I think it will probably be 68 percent white and probably 30 percent plus African Americans and others.

Perryman: Will that present a challenge for you?

Ashford:  Oh, absolutely not.  I think what happens is that people want to know exactly what you do for them, and you have to remember that race has never been an issue in this county.  When I say countywide, we had Bill Copeland, who served as a long-time county commissioner and race was never a factor.  We have currently Phil Copeland.  Weíve had Edna Brown who was the first African-American woman state senator.  Weíve had three different African-American mayors, so they want to look at your character, they want to look at your track record, they want to make sure that you continue to make sure that youíre a voice for northwest Ohio.

Perryman: You are also the ranking member of the Ohio Representativesí Public Utilities committee, a very important assignment right?

Ashford:  Yes, let me tell you about the importance of public utilities.  Public Utilities is probably the second most important committee out there right behind finance. It deals with every energy company out there from whether or not youíre a gas company, whether or not youíre a nuclear plant, whether or not youíre a coal plant or an electrical plant. And, more importantly, it deals with the safety issues, it deals with economic development, it deals with also how do we make sure that our customers throughout the state are getting a fair price.  So thatís very important we make sure that homes are being kept safe through low energy costs. 

Iíve worked with First Energy, Toledo Edison, Iíve worked with Columbia Gas and with Duke Energy just about everybody else out there in the industry, to make sure that the Democratic voices are heard and that everything is fair and balanced.

Perryman: So what is your message in this contest?

Ashford:  This is what my message is and my opponent has a different theme, but my message is very clear. People want resources to return here from Columbus and want me to address the infrastructure to make sure that we create and retain jobs in northwest Ohio, especially in my community.  I want to make sure that we look out for our seniors and just recently I was able to make sure that the Area Office of Aging received like $225,000 to help low-income seniors complete repairs in their homes.  So people will see that I was a big advocate for things like that. 

This year, I have also sponsored House Bill 123 and itís a payday lending bill, and believe it or not in our community, one in five people in our community are affected by predatory payday lending, that negatively affects their ability to move ahead financially, and so that bill will make sure that instead of somebody going in for and emergency loan and getting $300, they donít have to end up paying back almost $1000 or almost 590 percent on a $300 loan, so thatís very crucial.

Perryman: How do you differentiate your candidacy from your opponent in the May primary, Teresa Fedor?

Ashford:  Well, my message is totally different.  My message deals with a variety of issues that affect everybodyís household. The number one priority that people want is can you get us money to help our infrastructure?  Yes.  What will you do about economic development and retention of jobs?  How will you address and support our seniors?  How are you going to make sure our kids can go to college without leaving a whole lot of debt?  What about public education?  How do we address the opiate crisis? 

My platform is just not one or two issues, my platform addresses almost every household in Lucas County, so thatís how my platform differs from my opponentís.  It crosses every gender, every household, every ethnic makeup, every background out there, thatís what it touches, all of those households.

Perryman: Okay, in the event that you do not prevail in the contest, where do you go from here?

Ashford:  Well, you know what?  Thatís a good question and itís not a difficult question.  Most people who go into any type of campaign, at least 99 percent of them, go in with the fact that they want to win. They go in with the idea that they are going to work hard, theyíve got great volunteers, theyíre knocking on doors, theyíre making phone calls, and they have a political strategy that they want to follow.  I donít think Iíve found anybody yet that says you know Iím going into this to lose.  So I havenít even thought about losing.  My overall strategy is to give 110 percent and move forward with that.  And hereís the other part, youíve got to stay positive because if you donít, it will affect your volunteers and ultimately your entire campaign.

Perryman: Right, so you just leave it all out on the field.

Ashford:  Yeah, give it your all and leave it there.

Perryman: Thank you much!

Ashford: All right man.

Contact Rev. Donald Perryman, D.Min, at drdlperryman@centerofhopebaptist.org



Copyright © 2018 by [The Sojourner's Truth]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 08/16/18 14:12:11 -0700.



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