New Vienna’s Justin Grimes, the Democratic candidate for representative of Ohio’s 91st House District, which includes Clinton County, said he is the ideal candidate for the seat because he relates to the common man and has no alliances with the political establishment.
In an interview with The Times-Gazette, Grimes said he has not accepted any funding for his campaign “because of extenuating circumstances such as unemployment,” and that he has never been approached by political operatives with funding.
“I think I know what is related to the more common individual,” he said. “I haven’t had any Democratic leader or Republican leader come to me with any kind of financial promise. I haven’t taken any money. I have used my money to try and make change for the common man.”
Grimes said he is running for the seat because he “got tired of just complaining about policies.”
According to Grimes, his father suggested he run for state representative, and the next day, “the Ohio Democratic Caucus called me up. They asked if I wanted to run, and it seemed like I should.”
Grimes, who is currently unemployed, said while he does not have related experience or political support, “I plan to do the best job I can for my state.”
In an interview this week with The Times-Gazette, Grimes answered a number of questions about issues relevant to the 91st District.
When asked what measures he would support to fight the opioid epidemic and widespread addiction problem in Ohio, Grimes said he would like to have local law enforcement agencies take classes on opioids “so they understand the danger of the actual problem,” and facilitate a heavier police presence in high-crime areas. Grimes said while he has worked with the Highland County Coroner’s Office and done related work in Clinton County, he plans to do more research on how best to tackle the problem throughout the district.
On the topic of medical marijuana and possible legalization of recreational marijuana use, Grimes said he supports medical marijuana because studies have shown that many diseases such as cancer can be treated or even cured with marijuana and its derivatives. As for recreational use, Grimes said he believes Ohio’s prisons are overcrowded because too many people are being jailed for marijuana possession. He said marijuana should not be classified with hard drugs such as cocaine and heroin, and that prison sentences should not be severe for marijuana possession.
When asked if he supports legislation banning abortions in Ohio, Grimes said doing so would create a market for illegal abortions and put expectant mothers at greater risk if they are determined to get one.
“I am definitely in favor of abortion if there are extenuating circumstances such as the baby or mother dying from birth, or rape, or if that person cannot financially support themselves during pregnancy or after pregnancy,” he said.
Regarding school safety, Grimes said the idea of arming teachers “does not sit well with me,” because “one itchy-finger teacher after a horrible week of testing may do something they regret to a student.” Grimes said mandatory metal detectors and a stronger police presence in schools would bolster safety.
When asked what measures he would support to keep the district’s economy on the rebound, Grimes said he hadn’t put a lot of thought into it. The candidate said having a large company in the district would create more jobs and higher quality employment, and he said something like a biodiesel plant would increase employment and streamline local agriculture efforts.
Addressing concerns that the State of Ohio has balanced its budget by cutting funds to local governments, Grimes said he wants to “return that money to the local counties, because everything starts in small government and it rolls up to big government.”
“If there are no problems in smaller counties and towns, it creates less dissension throughout the state,” he said.
Addressing a misdemeanor theft charge filed against him in Hillsboro Municipal Court in 2016, Grimes said he made “a stupid mistake.”
“Everybody makes a stupid mistake at some point in their life,” he said. “I was scared completely straight by it… I have no idea why I did it, but I will never do it again.”
According to online court records, the case was dismissed in January 2017 on the condition that Grimes complete a theft class. Grimes said he also spoke with county officials about how to prevent shoplifting in Highland County.
Grimes urged residents of the 91st District to vote on Election Day.
“Go out and vote regardless of any alliance to a political system,” he said, “because if you waste your vote, your opinion is not heard. The voices that stay silent overweigh the voices that shout.”
The 91st District includes Highland, Clinton and Pike counties and a portion of Ross County.