Biography: Russell lives in London and is a member of the NRA, Buckeye Firearms, Farm Bureau, Sportsmen’s Alliance, Ohio Right to Life and Rotary International.

Russell is the policy and advocacy director at the Ohio Association of County Boards of Developmental Disabilities (OACB) where he manages the government affairs for Ohio’s 88 non­profit county boards of developmental disabilities. Prior to his role with OACB, he was the director of government affairs for a private health care consulting firm. Russell also served as senior policy aide in the Ohio House of Representatives.

Russell graduated cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the University of Toledo. During college he was appointed by the governor to serve as a student trustee on the university Board of Trustees. Additionally, he completed The Washington Center – Political Leadership Program with Talk Radio News Service and attended the Campaign Management College in Washington D.C.

What is the biggest challenge facing the state, and what would you do to help resolve it?

“The answer is clear, we must deal with the heroin epidemic and we must create an economic environment that allows small businesses to grow. First, we must combat the heroin epidemic on three fronts: (1) stop the supply of drugs; (2) prevent kids and young adults from becoming addicted to drugs; and (3) give our law enforcement officials the tools they need to fight this problem. I support helping the addicted and downtrodden in turning their lives around so long as they want help. I also support drug ­testing people on public assistance so we can get people the help they need to become productive tax paying citizens.

Second, we must create an economic environment that encourages business growth and relocation to Ohio. This can be accomplished through cutting red ­tape so that it is easier to do business; reducing costs such as workers’ comp so that it is cheaper to do business; making our income tax flatter and more fair so that it is more profitable to do business; and finally I believe we need to do more to create a workforce that is prepped and skilled for the 21​st century so that our businesses have the people­ power needed to grow.”

When it comes to the state’s budget, how would you change spending priorities for services?

“The state’s biennial budget is complicated and we need someone with budget experience to ensure our community is adequately represented. I am the only candidate with experience working on the budget and I will use my experience to create effective change through the budget process when elected. That said, as your state representative my priorities for spending would reflect the values of our community.

I know from experience that there is a whole lot of wasteful spending in government, and that we can save money and reduce the size of government without negatively impacting services. In fact, in many cases services are improved when programs are reformed. Broadly, I would focus on reforms for Medicaid and health care spending, which is the largest portion of the budget, as well as reforms in Ohio’s prison system. I would use cost savings in those areas to fund tax reform and to improve education, among others. It’s not just about how much you spend, it’s how ​smart​you spend.

Lastly, we need to look at how to address the heroin epidemic without creating new and expensive programs. I believe we need to can reform existing programs for youth prevention and the criminal justice system to focus on the drug epidemic. Some existing programs, such as ‘drug courts,’ provide a good example.”