Home Election 2020 Kilgore and Newby emphasize electability, job creation at forum

Kilgore and Newby emphasize electability, job creation at forum

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Daniel Kilgore and Joel Newby. Photo by Ben Peters.

Democratic candidates Daniel Kilgore and Joel Newby want voters to know they care about jobs, they care about the environment, and they really care about Athens.

During a forum hosted Tuesday night by the League of Women Voters at the Athens Community Center, the question of each congressional candidate’s electability and their life stories took center stage alongside media and attendee questions concerning green energy, the economy, health care. 

Both candidates made electability pitches numerous times over the course of the forum, and each believes they have unique qualifications to represent Ohio’s 15th Congressional District. 

Newby grew up in Pickaway County and is an Ohio University alumnus. He repeatedly boasted his strong personal connection to the 15th district and his desire to support the communities in and around Athens County, regardless of the political affiliations of its constituents. 

“This county built me,” Newby said. “And because I come from you, I will be able to go to Washington, D.C. and represent you.” 

Kilgore lives outside of the 15th district, but he believes that his reputation as an everyman will resonate with voters. He was raised by his grandparents and previously struggled financially to the point where he was homeless. The candidate now works full-time at a call center when he’s not on the campaign trail. Because of his first-hand challenges, he wants to represent the needs and daily struggles of ordinary people in the 15th district. 

“I’m an unconventional candidate,” Kilgore said. “Not many candidates have gone through what I’ve gone through. I have lived through the struggles a lot of people are going through.”


Kilgore is concentrated on cutting the region’s homelessness and poverty rates, supporting infrastructure and creating job centers with a focus on green energy jobs.

Newby’s campaign places a heavy focus on agricultural jobs, including support for small family-owned farms over large corporate farms –– which Kilgore also supports. He also said broadband access in the region is a massive issue that prevents residents from gaining employment. If elected, Newby plans to propose a comprehensive funding plan that will ensure expanded broadband access for rural communities. 

“In small towns, access to the internet is nearly impossible,” Newby said. “How are we going to build a 21st century economy if we can’t get the majority of the people in the economy hooked up to the Internet?” 

Both candidates also gave attention to the environment and how they plan to implement policies to protect it. Both support a greater emphasis on clean energy. Newby in particular supports solar and wind energy to both replace fracking and bolster the economy. Kilgore supports “better, safer solutions” for fracking. 

They’re also both concerned about climate change. Kilgore stressed his interest in embracing climate science and cited recent environmental catastrophes, like the Australia wildfires, as reasons to be concerned about the Earth’s future. 

Newby wants to focus on local environmental issues to convince people to care about climate change. He argued that while residents of Ohio may not worry about rising sea levels, they are concerned about how shifting weather, flooding and droughts impact their crop yield. 

“I think we need to bring climate change down to a level they can understand,” Newby said. “Here in Ohio, we don’t really worry about the ocean drowning us. What we do worry about is having food.”

Ohio’s primary election takes place March 17.

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

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