Name: Rick Neal
City of Residence: Columbus, Ohio
Party Affiliation: Democrat
Office Sought: U.S. House of Representatives OH-15
Election Website: https://rickneal.com
Why should you be elected?
My career in humanitarian relief around the globe and public health has shown that I’m a person that runs to problems, a person who wants to help people solve problems. We need more of this attitude in Washington. Congress is not getting things done for people – I truly want to pursue a career and policies in Congress that put people first.
Our district is currently represented by someone who puts party politics first. He’s the head of the National Republican Congressional Committee, the chief campaign and fundraising arm for GOP candidates. It’s a big job that doesn’t leave the time necessary for him to adequately represent his district.
Like a lot of Ohioans, I see a need for people who want to get things done, but a Congress full of partisan rancor and self-serving agendas. I’m running to be a part of changing that and to bring Congress back closer to the people it’s supposed to represent.
Top Three Priorities:
Priority one is healthcare reform. The Affordable Care Act must be preserved and improved. Protections for people with pre-existing conditions must be kept, the healthcare marketplace exchanges need to be stabilized and made more competitive and the minimum standards for health insurance sold in the exchanges need to be preserved.
Another priority is protecting Social Security. I will not support efforts to lessen benefits or raise the retirement age. The GOP in Congress has made the solvency situation worse with the recent tax cut which mostly helped corporations and the wealthy. That $2 trillion charge on the nation’s credit card shouldn’t be used to water down Social Security through cutting benefits or privatization – which would end up costing seniors money and putting more money into Wall Street coffers.
Finally, our current member of Congress has been somewhat of an absentee member here in his district. He’s become the GOP’s primary campaigner and fundraiser in Washington through his chairmanship of the NRCC. We need a member of Congress focused on the problems of the district and representing everyone – not just donors and partisans. I have pledged to work in Congress on campaign finance reform and to hold at least one public town hall meeting in each of the district’s 12 counties each year. I also look forward to using the platform of a member of Congress for my constituents – and problems such as the opioid crisis – not to seek greater partisan political position in D.C.
I’m running for Congress because my whole life has been about service and advocacy. I’ve been an international aid worker in some of the most vulnerable places around the world. That means I’m willing to roll up my sleeves and come up with innovative solutions to our most pressing challenges.
I joined the Peace Corps after college, working in Morocco for five years as a teacher and a health educator. After I earned a master’s degree in public health, I continued my international work, going wherever the need was greatest – places like Cambodia, Congo, and Afghanistan. I ran local non-profits, made sure people had access to clean water, launched a hospital reconstruction project and set up refugee camps.
A few years ago, I went to Liberia in West Africa to help fight Ebola. I watched that summer of 2014 as the epidemic got worse and worse, and decided I needed to help. I joined a team setting up a 100-bed field hospital that could treat patients in a safe and humane setting. Luckily, by the time I left, the outbreak was starting to fade.
I learned valuable lessons during my many years spent in the field: hire good people and trust them to do good work, manage carefully the money sent in by donors and build on existing efforts instead of reinventing the wheel. But the most important lesson was to not be afraid to stand up and take action when called, no matter the obstacles.
While working back in the U.S. as a humanitarian advocate, I met my husband, Columbus native Tom Grote. After getting married in 2007, we adopted two beautiful girls, and I became a stay-at-home dad. Because our marriage wasn’t recognized by the government, we joined the fight for civil rights and marriage equality. It felt great to win that fight and know our family was protected by the law just like other married couples.
Now, I’m driven to confront new threats, and to stand up for what’s right. I’m not a career politician, but I’m a passionate public servant. I’m not beholden to special interests, to lobbyists or to the establishment. I stand with Ohioans, and I’m ready to keep working for a better future – for everyone.