Janet Garrett Gears up For Another Congressional Campaign

Democratic Congressional candidate Janet Garrett visited Oberlin Sept. 14 to speak with members of the community and drum up support for the upcoming election. Oberlin students are encouraged to vote in this election in particular because of the potential for upset.

Garrett is running against Jim Jordan, who has represented Ohio’s 4th Congressional District since 2007. Jordan is a founding member of the House Freedom Caucus — the farthest-right group in the Republican Party — and has recently announced his intention to run for Speaker of the House.

This campaign represents Garrett’s third run at Jordan’s seat.

College sophomore Ilana Foggle works on Garrett’s campaign and is confident that Garrett would better represent the district.

“A lot of the things that [Jim Jordan] cares a lot about are obstructing the rights of LGBTQ folks,” Foggle said. “He really cares a lot about the pro-life movement, and certain issues that I am against. [Garrett] cares about women’s issues, about LGBTQ issues, about gun reform; she’s really passionate about education, she’s a retired school teacher, and she cares about environmental issues. These are all issues that Jim Jordan seems to be against.”

Similarly, Garrett feels that Jordan will continue to oppose legislation intended to protect and empower women.

“He is so right-wing that he voted against everything that has the word women in it,” Garrett said. “He voted against the Violence Against Women Act, and for the Equal Pay for Equal Work act.”

Garrett also believes that the time has come for the Democratic Party to change direction.

“It’s time for new leadership,” Garrett said. “I’m really happy that there are so many women running. It takes a group of women to clean up the mess that men made.”

If elected, Garrett hopes to take a fiscally conservative approach to policy.

“We have to have balance in our financial institutions,” she said. “I don’t believe in full-blown capitalism. There have to be checks on it. There has to be balance to protect people who have [a] small business, for example. They can’t be at the mercy of the big guys.”

College sophomore James Dryden attended the talk and was impressed by Garrett’s policy points.

“One issue that is very important to me is climate change,” Dryden said. “She came out strong and right away she said, ‘I think this is a serious threat to the country.’ She seemed confident and she was pretty quick to make clear the things that were most important to her like climate change, raising teachers’ salaries, and the betterment of education in general.”

Conversely, College junior Cole Sheridan felt that the talk did not thoroughly address pressing issues.

“It seemed like she was dwelling a lot on the negative aspects of the incumbent, which are significant, but it felt like a pretty weak tactic to get people excited to support her,” he said. “The assumption was that we would automatically be sympathetic to her as a candidate and that we would want to support her as a Democrat.”

Building on her two previous congressional campaigns, Garrett has made several updates to her strategy.

“This time is completely different because the first time I ran, I was a write-in candidate,” she said. “I jumped in late, did not really have any money, and was basically running it by myself.”

Garrett is hopeful that the timing of the election, along with her professional campaign team, will push her to victory to this time around.

“This is the cycle that we are expecting a blue wave, but we are going to have to work really hard to make it happen,” Garrett said.

Zach Stepp, Garrett’s campaign manager, emphasized that Garrett’s race is of particular significance for the Democratic Party.

“Democrats are outnumbered 2:1 to Republicans here, but Republicans are outnumbered 2:1 by Independents,” said Stepp. “This is a majority independent district. The data they are looking at in Washington [D.C.], or wherever they are making these decisions about which races to target, are just looking at the raw numbers. Districts like this are winnable, but they are difficult.”

Third-year College student Ezra Andres-Tysch, who worked with the Democratic Party during Garrett’s 2016 campaign, believes that this run is similar to her previous attempts.

“She has more professional people working for her, but it’s still Janet,” they said. “She doesn’t change, she’s the same teacher’s union, semi-hippie that we all know and love. I wouldn’t put money on this race but it’s still important that Democrats go out and vote.”

Alison Ricker, head of the Science Library and member of the League of Women Voters, is engaging in bipartisan efforts to register students to vote on campus and to increase voter turnouts.

“The percentage of students who voted on campus was disappointingly low last year and the year before related to the average college-student nationwide, which is surprising for Oberlin,” she said.

In the previous two election cycles less than 35 percent of eligible students voted.

Students living off-campus often lack the necessary paperwork to prove their local addresses in order to register.

“The easiest thing is getting an official government document, and a letter from an elected official,” Ricker said. “But it has to look like it is intended for you.”

She is working alongside Oberlin’s State Representative Dan Ramos to send letters to off-campus student homes, helping them to prove their addresses and register for the upcoming election.

Ricker has also organized a National Voter Registration Day Event in Wilder Bowl Sept. 25 to increase the number of registered voters on campus and give students more information on the voting process.

She stressed the importance of voting in this race and all elections.

“If you don’t vote, you are allowing other people to make decisions for you — decisions that you may know nothing about,” she said. “Why give up that power and let the government make those decisions without your input?”

Jim Jordan did not respond to request for comment.