Newly elected State Representative for the Ohio legislature Jay Edwards returned to Athens after an impressive win Tuesday night.
Edwards won the overwhelming majority in three of the four counties in Ohio’s 94th District. The only county won by Democrat Sarah Grace was Athens County, the district’s most populated.
“I was really just humbled and honored that the people of the 94th district trusted me with their vote,” Edwards said. “To me it’s about representing the people, and it’s about going out and talking to the people.”
Edwards’ main focus throughout his campaign has been to keep jobs local and help small businesses thrive. He wants to bring jobs to the region and stimulate the economy through local businesses rather than corporate giants. Edwards also wants to strip barriers that prevent small businesses from succeeding in the region and state.
“We have to get a voice for Athens, Meigs, Washington and Vinton counties — the entire district,” Edwards said. “We have to make sure they’re able to talk to their state legislator, have representation within their state legislature and have someone that can go to Columbus and be effective and fight for what they need.”
Edwards put heavy emphasis on the need to protect local rural communities and has proposed plans to receive more federal funding for areas in the 94th district. He discussed the Appalachian Caucus, which is an effort to gain more funding for smaller regions in Ohio and the rest of Appalachia.
“What I think makes the most sense for people on both sides of the political spectrum is starting the Appalachian Caucus, which would combat a lot of the power and money that gets directed away from our area of the state,” David Parkhill, president of Ohio University College Republicans, said.
Edwards’ stance on public education is comprised of more affordable college and fairer funding for local schools at all levels. He recognizes the importance for vocational training, especially in the 94th District.
“Public education is not something about Republican and Democrat. It’s about kids,” Edwards said.
The Athens County Republican Party backed Edwards throughout the race and attributed some of his success to his relatability.
“Jay did a great job, campaigned hard, he was right on the money with the issues, and he connected with the people – particularly the rural people,” Athens County Republican Party Chairman Pete Couladis said.
The Ohio University College Republicans aided heavily with Edwards’ campaign, positioning themselves outside of Baker on Election Day to make a last-ditch effort for their candidate.
“I wasn’t too surprised, but that absolutely did not ruin my utter excitement for the win…I was ecstatic,” Parkhill said.
Edwards has been increasingly involved with getting to know his constituents through door-to-door campaigning and updates through social media, even putting his personal cell phone number on some campaign materials. Edwards stated during his campaign that if he were elected, he would focus more on making himself available and known to his constituents.
“People had no clue who their state representative was…around here it’s extremely important that we know who our representatives are and make sure that they can fight for us,” Parkhill said.