Garrison gets acquainted with area

LISBON – Jennifer Garrison, the Democratic candidate for U.S. Congressional 6th District, spent Saturday in Columbiana County meeting people in East Palestine, Salem and Wellsville.

In a swing through the county with County Treasurer Linda Bolon, Garrison went door-to-door in East Palestine, attended a red hat party they stumbled upon and then attended both the Salem Grande Parade and the Wellsville Italian Festival. A week ago she spent some time at the Columbiana County Fair, along with some other public appearances in the area.

Garrison knows the importance of this county, the largest in the district she is hoping to wrest away from Congressman Bill Johnson in November.

“I love meeting people,” Garrison said. “I think it’s important to listen to what people are saying and what I’m hearing is people are not satisfied with congress.”

Additionally, Garrison said constituents are telling her they have many concerns, including the rising cost of a college education. She notes the government student loans have a 12 percent interest rate, while housing interest rates are around 4 percent. She said she questions what that says about our priorities.

Garrison, who has worked with property owners and energy companies negotiating gas and oil leases, said she understands well the changes the energy seekers are bringing to this area. She also believes what the local Port Authority is doing is important to help bring more energy-related jobs and infrastructure to the region.

Finally, Garrison’s campaign sent out a press release last week criticizing her opponent for using taxpayer money to send out an informational piece about his stand on protecting the rights of gun owners. Garrison said she believes the piece goes too far, touting his A grade from the National Rifle Association, which she said she considers “campaign language.” She also notes she has also received the same endorsement in the past.

“It’s insulting to the voters to be using taxpayer dollars to convey a political message,” Garrison said.

She also notes Johnson also holds telephone town hall meetings at taxpayer expense, events she believes are all about keeping his own job.

Garrison said she has challenged Johnson to debate her in the seven media markets in the district, but so far she claims he has not agreed to do so. Instead, Garrison claims, Johnson has raised $1.2 million in Washington, D.C., so he can put television advertisements out during the upcoming campaign season.

Benjamin Keeler, who handles media relations for Johnson, said Sunday that when the time comes, Johnson will be available for debates. As far as the mail piece, Keeler said it was approved by the bipartisan House Franking Commission, which has strict standards for what can be sent out.

“This particular mail piece detailed Bill’s efforts to defend the Second Amendment, and asks for feedback that enables Bill to better represent those he serves,” Keeler said, adding the flier Johnson to communicate with residents in Eastern and Southeastern Ohio about an issue important to them. “Bill has returned more than $200,000 of his office’s budget, donated the pay he received during the government shutdown to charity and voted to freeze Congressional pay.”