By Elina Sadeghian and Synai Ferrell
Healdsburg, Calif. and Waldorf, Md.
Editor’s Note: This piece was reported and written before the Aug. 3 primary. Greg Betts was defeated in that race by Allison Russo.
On July 15, 2021, Greg Betts, a 53-year-old Democratic congressional candidate for Ohio’s 15th District, participated in a press conference held by students of the Princeton Summer Journalism Program. There, he discussed his policies on healthcare, civil and voting rights, cli-mate change, and infra-structure.
Betts is a retired U.S Army colonel who served for 30 years. He is running against fellow Democrat Al-lison Russo, a sitting mem-ber of the Ohio General Assembly. The winner of their Aug 3 primary race will face the Republican nominee to succeed retiring GOP Congressman Steve Stivers, who was represented the district since 2011, in a special election.
Betts said he was inspired to run for a congressional seat in Ohio because of its history of gerrymandering and unfair electoral politics. Ohio Republicans have designed the state’s redistricting map to keep their party in office, which violates voters’ constitutional rights. Betts, a strong believer in the Constitution, hopes to dismantle gerry-mandering and influence fair elections to ensure all Americans have equal protection under the law.
Betts has his shortcom-ings as a new politician; however, his experience as a military colonel has prepared him to navigate government policies and has provided him with leadership skills. His passion to serve the coun-try also motivates him. “Although my military service is complete, my service to this state and nation is not complete,” he said. In reference to his initiatives, a student asked how he would pro-tect the rights of workers who will be out of jobs as he battles to rid the nation of corporations producing greenhouse gas emissions. In his re-sponse, he was honest and open about consulting with experts before tak-ing further action. Betts also faced questions on his infrastruc-ture policy. Betts’s goals for infrastruc-ture include transitioning to clean en-ergy to create jobs, investing in civil projects to repair roads, bridges, rail lines, airports and seaports, and replacing all lead pipes in America so everyone has access to clean water. When asked how he would maintain equity through these ini-tiatives—especially when one considers America’s history of rehousing mar-ginalized groups under the guise of infrastruc-tural improvement—Bet-ts again noted that he would defer to expert opinion.
Betts’s policies—such as funding child care, raising the minimum wage, investing in public infrastructure, decreasing the cost of college, and making healthcare widely accessi-ble, among others—appeal to most Democrats.