Sarah Grace, an at-large Athens City Council Democrat, seeks to secure her seat in the upcoming election. Her concern about public health and the sustainability of future generations are the foundations of her platform.

Grace attended high school in Missouri before her father was offered a job in Columbus, Ohio. She was admitted into the Honors Tutorial College at Ohio University and completed an undergraduate degree in biology. 

“I like the science of healthcare,” Grace said. “I didn’t know exactly what I would want to do with it.”

Grace moved to Florida shortly after graduation, where she conducted legislative research on environmental issues for the state’s House of Representatives. She and her husband moved back to the Midwest after getting married, contemplating where they should raise their family. They decided to return to Athens, Ohio, and have lived here for nearly 20 years.

“We thought this would be a really great place to raise a family,” Grace said. “It has the benefits of a small town but is constantly alive and vibrant because of the university.

Her professional history in Athens is broad, ranging from entrepreneur to elected official. Grace owns and manages a family rental property business titled “Grace Rentals.” She believes her position as a landlord allows her to create stronger housing legislation.

“My tenants aren’t undergrads; they’re either graduate students or they’re young professionals who are working in the city,” Grace explained. “I think that has given me a really good perspective on shifting dynamics of the city.”

Her career as a public official started when she ran for the Ohio House of Representatives’ seat for District 94. After a phone conversation with former Ohio House Rep. Debbie Phillips about who would run for her seat, Grace felt that she needed to represent students enrolled in public schools in southeastern Ohio.

“Honestly before that, it had never occurred to me to run for office,” she said. 

Grace received a master’s degree in public health from Ohio U while on City Council, which she said enabled her to write legislation to improve the general wellness and environmental sustainability of the Athens community. She tends to keep future generations in mind considering she has four children of her own.

“(My children) are so incredible to me,” she said. “The amount of thought that they give to national and global politics and environmental issues — for young people, there’s a heavy burden.” 

Grace lost the election to Republican Rep. Jay Edwards in 2016, and said she would not run again. 

“The meanness in politics really discourages me from wanting to participate at a higher level,” Grace said. “There’s even some of it in Athens this year.”

Empathy is a guiding principle of Grace’s political agenda, a trait that she believes both national and global politics lack. Grace claimed “tearing each other down” is counterproductive to progressive developments in politics. 

“I guess (it’s) not good for the soul,” she explained. “Not that we don’t have to fight hard, but we can disagree civilly.” 

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