Tuesday, October 20

Out Democrat Mark Carr Hopes to Flip Reliably Red Licking County (OH-71)

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by Peter Kusnic

In November, Licking County resident Mark Carr will face off against Republican incumbent Mark Fraizer to represent District 71 in the Ohio Statehouse. If elected, the openly gay husband and father would be just the second out state representative in Ohio history. Though District 71 is reliably red, Carr says now is the time for bold change, especially after revelations about contributions Fraizer received from disgraced former Statehouse Speaker, Larry Householder.

“I believe that state representatives should represent every person and every voice in their district – including people of color and the LGBTQ+ community,” says Carr. “That isn’t happening here.”

The Buckeye Flame caught up with Mark Carr to learn more about his candidacy. 

What motivated you to run for office?
I am a father to a 4-year-old and a 5-year-old, and just observing the level of hate and bigotry of late – which I very much believe comes from our top leadership in this country – I felt a need to stand up and do something. I don’t want my children to grow up in the world I see taking shape around me, and I want to do what I can to make a difference for good. Specifically, in this race, the current state representative was appointed, not elected, and I thought this isn’t how this is supposed to work. Looking into this candidate, it’s evident he represents only a small segment of the district. Our district is over 170,000 people. They all deserve a voice in the Statehouse. 

What past experiences do you feel have best prepared you for this role?
Throughout my life, both personal and professional, my success has been based on my ability to build relationships. A main part of that is listening – listening to truly listen, not just to reply. Working in sales, in inspirational (or motivational) speaking, in personal coaching, in my former capacity as a school board member, and in my current role with United Way of Licking County, I’ve found that listening to people, building relationships, and caring for others have served me well, and will in office also. You know, I was on a homelessness task force and I was appalled when they only asked 12 people who are homeless what they need. Right now, we are not listening to the people. Look at the opioid crisis; it is out of control in our district. People are crying out for help, but we aren’t listening.

What issues will you prioritize if elected?
The main issue right now is Black Lives Matter and using my position to be part of the solution with systemic racism. Of course, many issues are important to me: affordable healthcare, securing a living wage, fighting climate change. I strongly believe people should not go broke paying medical bills, or have to work two or three jobs to get by – though even that isn’t cutting it anymore. People should not have to get in the situation where they are deciding between medicine, food, and shelter. But right now our brothers and sisters of color are in the fight for their lives, and I am in that fight with them.

What does it mean to you to be out and running for public office?
I wish you could see my smile right now. I know the reason I can run today – openly gay, married with children – is because of the sacrifice of those who came before me, some who gave the ultimate sacrifice – their lives – as well as those who gave time, energy, and money to the fight for LGBTQ+ rights. It’s with great humility that I am able to run, and it would make me extremely proud to represent the LGBTQ+ community as an Ohio Statehouse Representative.

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Peter Kusnic
 is a writer and editor based in Cleveland, OH.

 

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