Home Election 2020 Joel Newby spent his entire life in the 15th Congressional District. Now he plans to represent it

Joel Newby spent his entire life in the 15th Congressional District. Now he plans to represent it

24 min read

Joel Newby, a Democrat who recently announced his campaign to challenge Republican Representative Steve Stivers for Ohio’s 15th Congressional District, plans to pave his way into the halls of Congress by overcoming the political partisanship of Washington.

Newby, an Ohio University alumnus and former president of the Ohio U Graduate Student Senate, is a native of Pickaway County, and he previously lived in Columbus. As somebody who’s spent his entire life within the current boundaries of the state’s 15th district — which spans across 12 counties in central and southeastern Ohio — he believes he is the right man for the job, and better suited than Stivers. 

In an exclusive interview with The New Political, the candidate broke down his plan to campaign for incremental changes to the country’s health care system and moderate ideals that he believes could benefit constituents in the district.

Q: What inspired you to run?

A: This district is put together in such a way that it’s essentially my entire life in a district. I grew up in Pickaway County; I grew up in Athens, my mom worked in Madison County. I have family all over the district, and now I live in Franklin County where I’m helping out with campaigns, and I’m also working up there.

My entire life has been in this district, and I think I am the proper person to represent it because I’ve lived all over the place, and I was tired of seeing somebody who has really only resided in one part of the district, who really only goes out to the other parts of the district when it suits them, to get reelected. 

Q: What would you consider your platform, and how do you think you’ll stand out and appeal to the citizens of the 15th Congressional District? 

A: I have a very progressive platform that focuses on bringing new economy jobs to the district. Whether that be to incentify farmers to use better environmental techniques to help the environment but also provide them with a reimbursement for any improvements they make. Whether it’s to open up markets for those farmers so they’re not relying on one country, so a president can’t come in and apply tariffs to one country and completely mess up their market share. Two things affecting farmers right now have been the environment and the lack of markets for them, so I want to expand their market and help incentify them to be part of protecting the environment. 

For non-farmers, I’m focusing on improving the infrastructure so that way we can get better, higher-paying jobs in the district. That includes updating the infrastructure, not only the roads and bridges, but broadband internet because you can’t be a self-starter if you have access to the internet and you can expand your business through the internet. Right now, the district doesn’t have enough access to broadband internet. 

I also have a plan that involves keeping the healthcare provisions that are working for our communities, like not being able to get kicked off for preexisting conditions to students being able to stay on their parents’ insurance until they reach the age of 26. And then I want to set in place a plan where we can move to a single-payer system, because once we move to a system where we don’t have to rely on your job to provide you with health insurance, your job can start hiring more people because they will have more money to spend, (and) you’ll have better insurance because you’ll be able to go to any doctor, any hospital you’d like. But we need a system that takes the burden off of small businesses so that we can continue expanding. 

For foreign policy, I support a stronger state department because the stronger the state department is, the more they work with diplomacy and the less bullets we have to buy in order to protect America. 

Q: The 15th district has some of the poorest counties in Ohio. Is there anything in particular that you would do in particular for these counties if elected?

A: The only difference between a poor voter and a rich voter is the opportunity given to them. The opportunities come if you build the proper infrastructure, in order to get jobs down through there. One major reason why there’s no job opportunities like there are in Columbus is because of poor infrastructure. Businesses aren’t exactly sure how to get their materials in and their products out. Some of the improvements that have been made over the years are a step in that direction, but we definitely need the internet in order to expand some of these small businesses. We need better roads and bridges to help get those materials out. We need to better connect the region with the rest of the United States so that way the region can get exposure and grow. 

Q: Are there any policies of Stivers that you are going to campaign against? 

 A: If you look at his record, he’s more concerned about benefiting health insurance agencies instead of benefiting the people of this district because he doesn’t support the healthcare programs necessary throughout the district. 

His tax policy — Trump’s tax policy that he voted for — didn’t benefit the middle class like he was touting it would. Instead, it benefited everybody that donated to him. And that’s who he cares about, his donors, so he can raise enough money to get reelected (and) to get his colleagues reelected because he’s too focused on being part of the RNC chair instead of being a representative of this district. 

He’s worried about what’s going on in D.C. and not in this district. My family and friends are in every county of this district. That makes me care far more than he does for this district. 

Q: How will you try and appeal to college students?

A: As somebody that carries a large burden when it comes to (student) loans, I understand that the interest rates and loans are weighing in on us. It would take an effort from whoever becomes president when I would be in office, as well as other representatives to get this done, but I want to take care of this loan problem. It would have to take gradual steps because it would cost America a lot of money, but it would benefit us. What we first need to do is lower the interest rates — lower them down so we can start paying on our principals. That will help us be able to pay back our loans. 

We need to look into cutting some loan debt. We need to either follow a plan where the government pays off some of the loans or entirely. I’m of the mind that the best way for us to expand the economy for the millennial generation and the generation that’s coming after them is to eliminate as much of their student debt as possible. What we need to do is tackle this loan debt, so we can invest our money into owning a house, actually invest it back into the market and start setting ourselves up so we have the lives that our parents and grandparents were able to give to themselves. 

On another note, I would hope that the Bobcats at Ohio U would support one of their own in getting to Congress. 

Q: How will you try to help out farmers in this district, in the midst of the president’s trade war with China? 

A: I think the trade war highlights how we need to start opening up markets for farmers more than what’s on the table. We need to communicate with other countries, where we’re not just selling a large amount of what’s coming out of our farms to a place like China. We need to diversify our market. What we need to do is start opening up markets across the world and not just focus in on certain regions so if there’s a dispute in the future, like the trade war with China, it doesn’t affect our businesses. 

I think there’s more the U.S. government can do about promoting different crops throughout Ohio. Because of changing laws it is becoming possible that we can grow a crop like hemp. If we can adjust the subsidies so therefore the farmers can decide what product would be best to be able to sell, then we have a greater possibility of making the farming community immune to international disputes. And when the farmers are constantly able to provide us with the right amount of food, we become more secure as a nation, because we don’t have to depend on other countries for food. 

Q: There’s been a lot of controversy in Ohio regarding abortion rights. Earlier this year there was the “heartbeat bill,” and more recently there was a proposed bill that would completely ban abortion. What is your stance on that, and what the state should do moving forward?

A: I am pro-choice. I believe it is the woman’s right to choose. Not only do I think it’s a privacy issue, as Roe v. Wade decided, I think that (Supreme Court Justice) Ruth Bader Ginsburg is correct in stating that its an issue about equal protections, and I think that’s an even stronger argument than Roe v. Wade. 

I think it’s a huge mistake for the state of Ohio and other states to try to pass laws that are unconstitutional. There’s a reason why the heartbeat bill wasn’t signed into law by Republican (former Gov.) John Kasich. He knew that the courts would just throw it out, meaning Ohio has to spend millions of dollars on a lawsuit that is going absolutely nowhere. So, in order to save Ohio taxpayers money, I would suggest the Ohio government stop passing laws that they know are unconstitutional. 

Q: What’s your stance on gun control? 

A: I grew up in the country where I learned how to properly work with a gun before I was even 10 years old. I learned to respect the weapon. I knew that it could hurt or kill somebody. So I think that our laws need to reflect the gun values that good gun owners already know. That includes not giving a gun to somebody that is not qualified to hold a gun. I think that universal background checks are necessary. I think that we should talk about limiting certain magazines and the bump stock. 

Now that’s something most Americans agree on. And if we agree on it, it should be law. Its whether Americans agree on it, not whether lobbyists agree on it. This, like many other topics, is brought down by lobbyists. And you have somebody like Stivers who listens to what lobbyists are doing, instead of what the American people would like him to do. 

Q: There are a lot of legal challenges to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA) right now. What is your stance on the policy?

A: When I was growing up, I was told that our greatest strength is we’re a melting pot. And I think when we stand opposed to DACA, what we’re really saying is we want to limit our strengths. People that immigrated here from different countries make us stronger as a country, not weaker. I think DACA not only needs to be a law in the executive branch but it should be passed by the legislature. 

There’s no reason that we shouldn’t give DACA recipients ongoing status. They are absolutely great human beings. I know that if we can make our immigration policy reflect what we know in our hearts, that these people who grew up in this country, love this country, go to school, fight in our military, we all know that they deserve to be protected citizens of the United States. 

Q: In this day and age, voters are more polarized. What would you do to overcome that? 

A: I’ll listen to all of them. I’m not trying to win votes from democrats. I’m not trying to win votes from republicans. I’m not trying to win votes from independents. I’m trying to win votes from Ohio citizens of district 15. 

I’m one of them. I have lived all over this district. I know how they think. I know what they care about. Even if we disagree on something, I know that if I say why I vote one way, I know that they will respect it. I know that if they have something to say, and if they say it to me, I know that they know I’ll listen. And that’s the thing, I will actually listen to the people of district 15, unlike Stivers. 

There is more that unites us than divides us in this country. And right now, he’s listening to the far (and) far right, when I will listen to right, left and center. 

Editor’s Note: Newby is a former communications director for The New Political.

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