Candidate Profile: Allison Russo has come a long way and plans to accomplish much more


Editor’s Note: This is the second of two profiles on 15th District Congress candidates.

Allison Russo has come a very long way and accomplished a lot – and she plans to accomplish a lot more for the Ohioans.

The Democratic candidate for Ohio’s 15th District Representative in the U.S. Congress – who stepped down when Steve Stivers stepped down this spring – is currently in her second term to represent the 24th House District in the Ohio Statehouse. She will oppose Republican Mike Carey on November 2.

Russo recently spoke to the News Journal about the family, politics, and its long, winding road to Ohio and representing its residents.

She was born to a single mother just out of high school and raised in a small town in rural Mississippi, south of Vicksburg, near the Mississippi River. At the age of 21, her mother was a family of three, including Allison’s younger sister.

“She was a single mom with two little daughters trying to make ends meet,” Russo said. “We lived in pretty deep poverty. She worked in a convenience store and cleaned homes and office buildings.

“Then, finally, she had the opportunity to follow a workforce training through the local carpenters union. She became a union carpenter, and for the first time we had a stable income and a place to live and she was able to pay the bills. It really changed the life for us. She continued to get community college credits and other jobs while I was growing up, ”Russo said.

“This experience has really been the basis of the things that fascinate me the most in public service – understanding that when a person has a real opportunity to have a well-paying job, health care and access to good schools and to a good education, that changes. the trajectory not only for that person, but for their children, and for the whole community as well.

Growing up, before things got more stable for the small family, they “bounced back a lot” in Mississippi.

“We were very lucky that my grandmother lived nearby, and when things weren’t working out as far as where we lived or if we couldn’t afford the rent, she provided us with a port. ‘attach where we could spend a few months at a time. “

When Allison’s mother became a union carpenter – when Allison was in grade two – they were able to buy “a simple little house.”

Living in the countryside in a farming community, like many children, “we had to create our own entertainment” by playing in the nearby cove, fishing and just exploring.

But she was a good student and loved to learn and go to the local library.

By the time she entered high school, she got involved in a lot of activities and graduated as a valedictorian – in a class of 38 students in a K-12 building.

She said many of the area’s graduates worked on local farms or the furniture factory, joined the military, or attended the local community college. Allison said she was the only one in her class to attend a four-year college – the University of Mississippi for Women – through a combination of part-time jobs, co-op programs, subsidized student loans and a Pell scholarship.

“It was a small campus and it was easy to get involved in campus life,” Russo said. She became active in student government in her first year, and in her senior year she was treasurer of the student government association. “I ran for president; it was my first and only electoral defeat, ”she said.

She obtained a degree in microbiology. The university recently awarded him a Distinguished Alumni award.

On her way to a career in health care, she met a young Air Force officer in pilot training at the nearby base. Allison and Brian married in 2000 and lived in several locations while serving in the military.

During this time, she became a public health professional involved in the military health care system, working on veterans and military issues.

After her husband – a veteran and former law enforcement officer – left the Air Force, the couple decided to move to Upper Arlington, Ohio, near their parents in the Dublin area. and his sister in the Dayton area.

In politics

“Politics was not something I planned to get into – I had worked in health policy, with military families and senior health care as well,” Russo said. . “In 2016, I got more involved in politics because it was a very controversial election season, and we had local elections in 2017 and I got involved in a big school initiative.”

She was interested in the redistribution reform as well as the state budget and its links to health care and opportunity. In addition, she was “tired of all the political dysfunctions that I have seen”.

The state representative seat has opened in her district and someone has suggested that she run. But by then they had three children, including a baby just a few months old, and the seat had been taken by a Republican who had won the previous election by 21 percentage points.

“I was like, ‘If I don’t go, who else will?’” She ran in 2018 and won.

“I got to work from day one, focusing on issues like Ohio military families and health care, issues with mental and behavioral health services, education of the early childhood and children’s health, as well as trying to ensure that young people and adults have access to well-paying jobs, which are “rooted in the foundation of my own experience in my early years”.

After being re-elected in 2020, she is currently in her second term with “leadership roles on the health committee, joint oversight, working on the state budget – I wear many different hats”.

On the problems

Russo told the News Journal that she wants the federal government to pass the infrastructure bill.

“This will have a significant impact on job creation in the state and is an investment in infrastructure to maintain our economy as well as our roads, our water, our electricity grid and make sure we rebuild schools,” a- she declared. “I’m happy to see Democrats and Republicans working together,” and praised US Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio) for “coming to the table” and doing what’s best for Ohio and the nation.

She said that in Ohio’s 15th District, most people tell her they just want the opportunity to have high paying jobs – “earn an income where they not only survive, but thrive” – and it wants to improve access to physical and affordable services. mental health care and ensuring that everyone has access to good education and vocational training.

“I have proven to be a truly individual voice in a diverse district with diverse opinions,” Russo said. “I am seen as a reasonable, hard-working person, and at the end of the day, I’m here to fight for my constituents and their issues.”

During a visit to Clinton County which included shopping at the Farmers Market, left to right Rachel Rossi, Democratic Congressional candidate Allison Russo, Jericca Taste and Wilmington city council member Kelsey Swindler.

Allison Russo’s mother (pictured) lifted her family out of poverty in Mississippi by learning and training to be a union carpenter

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