Republican Jay Edwards won the race for the Ohio House of Representatives’ 94th district, beating Democrat Sarah Grace 58 percent to 42 percent.
“I didn’t know what to expect,” Edwards said. “I’ve never
Edwards will succeed current representative Debbie Phillips, D-Albany.
Edwards, who was raised in Nelsonville, ran a conservative campaign based on local job growth and Second Amendment rights.
“We put blinders on and worked as hard as we can every single day to not just get votes but to also talk to voters and get information about what people are wanting or saying and talk to all people from all walks of life to know what’s going on,” he said.
Edwards believes supporting local business will create job growth in Athens County, according to his campaign website.
Edwards said his large margin of victory indicates the people of Southeast Ohio are tired of “partisanship bickering.”
“I think that was a common theme of my campaign. That’s how I actually feel. It’s a major problem across the country,” he said. “I think it’s a major problem in Ohio, and I think that people want the government to start working for them. They don’t want to hear about Republicans and Democrats; they just want things done.”
Edwards’ opponent, Sarah Grace, gathered with members of Ohio University College Democrats and local politicians, including Athens Mayor Steve Patterson, to wait for election results at the Pigskin Bar and Grille at 38 N. Court St. Despite losing to Edwards, Grace said her foray into local politics has been an overall positive experience.
“I hope that my opponent and other Republicans who are running and have spoken about bipartisanship will really follow through on that,” Grace said. “And I hope that we can work together to really make this area stronger and really focus on education.”
Although discourse at local debates revealed numerous commonalities between the two candidates, tensions between Grace and Edwards escalated in the weeks leading up to Election Day. Both candidates were criticized for negative attack ads sent to residents’ houses, portraying Grace as “godless” and Edwards as a “puppet” of state politicians.
During their final public forum at the Nelsonville Public Library, however, both Grace and Edwards dismissed the ads, saying that they had little control over the messages that were distributed.
In the past, Grace criticized Edwards for supposedly wanting to cut taxes in the county, but he denied those allegations.
"I never said I wanted to reduce taxes, I said that I never wanted to raise taxes," Edwards said at an Oct. 25 debate.
Edwards said he plans to be putting on the “hard hat” and getting to work in Columbus come January.
“For far too long, Southeast Ohio has been the low man on the totem pole, and I think it’s time for that to change,” Edwards said.
Clarification: This article has been updated to clarify the percentage of votes Jay Edwards received in proportion to Sarah Grace.