By Chris Balusik, Reporter, Chillicothe Gazette
CHILLICOTHE – Believing politics has become too divisive, Chillicothe area educator Beth Workman has decided she wants to do something about it.
“The main reason I’ve wanted to run (for public office) is I’ve been very unhappy since the last election and I don’t like the political climate — all the hate, and it just seems to me like there’s people not being the kind of politicians they used to be when they got along with each other and were kind to each other and polite to each other and the whole political climate is what really got me going,” Workman said.
Workman decided the way she could take action is to pursue the Ohio 92nd House District seat held by State Rep. Gary Scherer. Scherer, a Republican appointed to the seat representing all of Fayette County and portions of Ross and Pickaway counties in April 2012, defeated Robert “Army” Armstrong later that year to win his first full term. He has won his last two terms without facing any opposition in the general election, with a primary challenge from Kirk Stinson in 2014 being the only hurdle he’s had to clear since.
This year, the state’s Democratic caucus is making a push to ensure that the party has candidates challenging for seats in every county in the state. Workman, 56, has filed what she believes will be enough valid petition signatures to get on the ballot as a Democrat in the district.
“I’ve been sitting and complaining about (politics) and I was finally at a point in my life that I needed to do something or needed to stop complaining about it,” she said. “I found out Scherer didn’t have an opposition candidate in 2016 and when I started looking into it, I saw there still wasn’t anybody who had stepped up.”
She saw that as a sign that this was an outlet for her to feed her need to become involved.
With 16 years as an educator in the Paint Valley Local Schools and some work since as a substitute teacher in schools around Columbus since the mother of four and political newcomer places state education reform at the heart of her political platform.
“I was very unhappy when the state passed the new evaluation system where teachers are now being judged on how our students do on one test per year,” she said. “I fought that for my last couple years of teaching.
“I’m very unhappy with education in Ohio, including the fact we are operating under an unconstitutional (funding) system in how the schools are supported.”
While she admits she’s not an expert on school funding and has some things to learn, she said she experienced the system’s shortcomings during her time at Paint Valley.
“I know we were in pretty good shape and then they changed the funding formula, and we lost a lot of money and started cutting teachers and (having to do away with) what seemed to be going well for a school like Paint Valley,” she said. “We had enough teachers, we had a period each day where our principal allowed us to have a class each day for kids who were behind or who weren’t getting their homework done … that’s what I feel we need.”
Ensuring protection of women’s rights and equality is another area in which Workman would like to focus.
The filing deadline for candidates to appear on the May primary ballot is Wednesday.