Ohio House 72nd: Henry (D) Takes on McGregor (R)
A friend wrote me to say that former Mayor and 72nd Ohio House District candidate Dale Henry (D-Springfield) has a new and improved web site, and that the SEIU has thrown their support his way. I have heard that this could be a close race, so I did some research to find out more about Henry and about the district.
Springfield comprises about 60% of this district located in Clark County, just northeast of Dayton. The incumbent, Rep. Ross McGregor (R-Springfield), is a businessman appointed to the 72nd District seat last August, following the retirement of veteran legislator Merle Kearns (R-Springfield) to become Director of the Ohio Department of Aging. Kearns had served in the house since 2001 and was previously in the Ohio Senate for 10 years. She defeated Rep. Ron Rhine (D) by 57.16% to 42.84% of the vote in 2002, in one of those contests between incumbents brought about by redistricting, and defeated less-formidable challenger Richard Spangler (D) by 59.79% to 40.21% of the vote in 2004. However, Kearns had the benefit of her long legislative service in those races, while newly appointed McGregor was the loser in his only previous election campaign (a challenge to popular Clark County Commissioner Roger Tackett (D) in 2002). According to the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, the 72nd District is "a true swing district, with the partisan index hovering right near 50 percent," and the resignation of Kearns makes this race a toss-up, "in which both parties will need to invest significant dollars ... likely even more than the combined $276,000 spent in the ’02 Kearns v. Rhine race." The candidates' fundraising to date shows McGregor substantially ahead, although neither is near the level of 2002's expenditures. In the post-primary filing in June, Henry reported $22,140 in contributions received and $1,991.07 on hand, McGregor reported $29,845 in contributions and $45,500.17 on hand.
Dale Henry is a former Springfield City Commissioner (elected in 1989 and re-elected 1993) who served two years as Mayor and six years as Assistant Mayor. Among the programs he helped initiate are a Domestic Violence Task Force, a city program to evict tenants and board up structures involved in drug trafficking, a Neighborhood Assistance Liaison, residential parking spaces for the disabled, and the area’s first bikeway along an abandoned railroad corridor. Upon leaving the City Commission he became Deputy Director of the Clark County Board of Elections for three years, and since 2004 has been a substitute teacher in the Springfield Public School District. Henry ran unsuccessfully for the 73rd Ohio House District in 1998 and 2000 (losing to Ron Rhine in the primary), and for the 10th Ohio Senate District in 1996.
Henry has an appealing personal background and a long record of civic activities. He has been married for 33 years and has three children and three grandchildren. He served in the U.S. Army from 1969 to 1971, obtaining the rank of Acting Sergeant. From 1968 to 1999 he was an assembly worker for General Motors, International Union of Electrical Workers Local #801. While working at GM he earned undergraduate degrees from Clark State Community College in 1979 (Landscape Design) and Wright State University in 1999 (Urban Affairs). He has served as Commander of both an American Legion Post and the Clark County Veterans Council, as a board member for the American Red Cross, Nehemiah Foundation, and Rocking Horse Center, as project chairman for the restoration of the Gammon Underground Railroad House, and as Chaplain of the local lodge of the Masons. He belongs to the Church of Jesus Family Worship Center, the South Limestone Gateway Association, the Chamber of Commerce Minority Business Committee, and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. This man never rests.
As for why he is running for the General Assembly, Henry writes on his web site that "[f]or too long, the Republicans and the special interests have been cutting deals that leave regular folks like us out in the cold." He says he "knows it’s time to clean things up for good." As state representative, Henry "will make state government accountable to us and will make a real difference in our community." In particular, he pledges to:
* Fight for the district's fair share of state funding for schools and senior programs while easing the property tax burden, saying that he's " tired of local homeowners having to pay the price because the state government isn’t living up to its commitments. That’s why [I]’ll fight to ensure communities like ours aren’t losing out to richer areas."Henry's campaign has drawn many labor endorsements, including the Ohio AFL-CIO, Teamsters Local Union 957, National Association of Social Workers, IBEW Local 683, SEIU District 1199, and the Ohio Education Association.
* Seek to end corruption and bring accountability back to state government by cracking down on the lobbyists and special interests, putting an end to insider deals that cost working families, and holding those who use public dollars accountable to the taxpayers.
* Help raise Ohio's minimum wage and bring more good family-wage jobs to the area by fighting for more investment in job training and economic development efforts.
* Find common sense solutions to bring down the cost of health care: "From letting small businesses band together to bargain for better rates to pushing for lower drug costs for everyone, Dale Henry knows that affordable health care is a right we all deserve."
* Fight for more support for our police and firefighters.