GALLIPOLIS — Pulled pork with barbecue sauce topped the variety of dishes Thursday as local Republicans shared new and old stories during their annual fall rally at the Gallia County Junior Fairgrounds.
Russ Moore, Gallia County GOP vice-chairman, welcomed attendees and led the room in a prayer, asked others to join him in the Pledge of Allegiance before dismissing tables to eat.
Kennison Saunders, Gallia County’s GOP chairman, introduced Kent Shawver, who spoke about the Gallia County Junior Fairground relocation efforts and encouraged the crowd to support the upcoming one-quarter of one percent sales tax levy that will be on the November general election ballot.
Pastor Heath Jenkins of Vinton Baptist Church spoke in representation of Field of Hope, a community campus dedicated to providing addiction therapy counseling services and food pantries. He encouraged attendees to support the facility’s efforts and to always be vigilant in communal support of drug-fighting efforts. He made mention the facility had recently received a $500,000 grant for a 16-bed dormitory to help those facing difficult times in life.
Kathlene Young spoke for Gov. John Kasich’s office and encouraged further GOP efforts in Gallia County, and thanked the local party for its invite to the rally.
Julia Stevens spoke in representation of Ohio Congressman Bill Johnson.
Lt. Matt Champlin, of the Gallipolis Police Department, announced his intention to run in upcoming elections for the position of Gallia County Sheriff and asked for the support of local Republicans in making that possible.
Saunders then introduced the main speaker of the evening, Ohio House of Representatives member Ryan Smith, R-Bidwell, who serves as a member of the House Finance Committee.
Smith lauded Republican efforts over the past year. He addressed concerns with Issue 1, a proposed Ohio constitutional amendment that attempts to thwart gerrymandering efforts by making the redrawing of election district lines a more bipartisan process and encouraged votes to support it.
Smith voiced his opposition to Issue Three, which if passed would legalize marijuana on a “full-scale.” One of his chief concerns with the legislation is that it would make it possible for a little over 1,000 facilities in Ohio to sell not only smokable substances, but what some refer to as “edibles” — foodstuffs with THC, the active chemical in marijuana that causes “highs.” Smith said he believes the edibles could be more easily marketed to children and present problems with youth.
According to information provided at the meeting, the amendment would also lock into the state’s Constitution 10 specific growing sites with rights that have already been purchased by pro-marijuana investors and create a “monopoly” in his eyes. With the law being a part of the Constitution, Smith said it would be far more difficult for legislators to moderate marijuana because to make a change the Constitution requires the direct choice of voters in an election. He encouraged members of the audience to vote no on Issue 3.
He encouraged voters to also vote yes on Issue 2. According to Smith, voters would vote on the amendment as it attempts to slow or prohibit the efforts of an initiative to solidify itself in the Ohio Constitution as a monopoly. He said for pro-marijuana efforts to succeed in Ohio, one would have to vote yes twice — to both Issue 2 and 3.
“So it’s extremely important that I think that we do a yes on (Issue) 1, a yes on (Issue) 2 to protect our Constitution and a no on (Issue) 3,” Smith said. “It’s not just about (marijuana) legalization. It’s also about monopoly (prevention).”
Smith said he did not understand with all the issues with drugs in southeast Ohio why the public would want more.
Dean Wright can be reached at (740) 446-2342, Ext. 2103.