Election 2020 State Athens real estate agent launches Ohio Senate campaign By Alejandro Figueroa Posted on January 16, 2020 5 min read 0 1 274 Michael Fletcher chats with event attendees. Photo by Alejandro Figueroa An Athens real estate agent launched his campaign for the Ohio Senate on Wednesday at the Athens County Democratic Party headquarters. His speech focused on several key issues he hopes to address if elected and what distinguishes him from his opponent, incumbent Republican Sen. Frank Hoagland who represents the state’s 30th District. Michael Fletcher — a Democratic Athens resident who works for LCR Realty — described himself as a social liberal and a fiscal conservative. He began his campaign talk by introducing himself as an old Boy Scout who abides by the scout’s law, a 12-point list of virtues scouts strive to uphold. He described his campaign as his next “community service project,” after explaining his life-long devotion to serving and listening to others. “I always felt called to be of service to others,” Fletcher said. “I’ve had the chance over the years to listen to the stories of thousands of people, now it’s time for me to be talking, but most of the time I’m a listener.” His careers in commercial real estate, financial planning and health care have prepared him to better understand the community he hopes to serve, he said. Fletcher’s campaign will focus on what he calls “the basics of state legislature,” such as budgeting, infrastructure and the state’s education system, as well as health care. Fletcher charged that the state of Ohio has an illegally funded education system. Ohio’s system was declared unconstitutional by the Ohio Supreme Court on accounts that property tax funding unfairly favors districts with wealthy communities and higher property values, according to the landmark DeRolph vs. State of Ohio. He said students’ educations vary in quality across the state, which perpetuates inequality. Fletcher hopes to address this issue through incremental improvements to the system, such as reducing mandated testing, restoring creativity in classrooms and making higher education more affordable. He believes the state — and the district he hopes to represent — is not likely to see any degree of change unless legislators arrive at a bipartisan consensus. “It doesn’t matter whether you’re a Republican or a Democrat, a liberal or a conservative,” Fletcher said. “Right now everybody is yelling at each other from across the road, we need to come back together and work together.” A key issue the candidate mentioned was the lack of internet access in the district’s rural areas, which is a reality that can hinder children’s access to a quality education, he said. “Nearly every community in Ohio is now starving for the funds needed to keep up with expenses,” Fletcher wrote on his website. “Ohio legislators have failed to restore community funding during what was supposed to be the longest economic expansion in recent history.” Ohio’s 30th senatorial district is among the largest in the state, encompassing 10 counties, including a portion of Athens County. Sen. Hoagland has been in office since 2016. Fletcher’s next campaign event will be in Steubenville, a city located in Jefferson County, at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers building on Friday, Jan. 17.