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Ari Faber sits for a portrait in his office on North Congress Street, Feb. 17, 2024.

Athens native runs for a Democrat Ohio Senate seat

Ari Faber, a native of Athens, is running as a Democrat against Republican incumbent Brian Chavez in November for the Ohio Senate District 30 seat, which includes Athens and much of Appalachian Ohio. 

Although he is running on a Democratic platform, Faber said he believes his campaign can garner bipartisan support because the issues he’s focused on affect those on both sides of the political spectrum. His campaign strategy is focused on three things: food insecurity, housing insecurity and healthcare costs.

“Everybody faces these issues, regardless of your political affiliation,” Faber said. “I'm hoping that because those are the things I want to work on and because I want to have such strong constituency services that people see that and feel like I would be someone working for them.”

Faber said he believed the best way to address issues is through policy. He combatted many problems in Athens County as the outreach director at the United Campus Ministry, or UCM, a center for spiritual growth and social justice.

Some of the issues Faber worked to address included coordinating the free meals program at UCM, which provides food to anyone who needs it. He said UCM serves about 70-100 meals per week. Faber also handles a lot of the fundraising and grant-writing work for the organization. 

One element of his campaign strategy is expanding SNAP Benefits outside of Athens. Faber said those in need can apply for SNAP benefits to give them an extra $20 weekly to spend on fresh produce. He said he would work to implement this program statewide because it benefits the economy and farmers. 

Faber said his decision to work for a nonprofit came from his desire to help people. Faber attended college to become a therapist but realized the best way to create change was by addressing issues directly. 

“It’s really hard not to be depressed and anxious when you’re worried about where your next meal is coming from and how you’re gonna pay for it,” Faber said. “So I have worked for nonprofits to try to address the root of the issue.”  

His other initiatives involved increasing grant funding for meal programs and improving housing options by using tax incentives.

A problem Faber has noticed while working for UCM is that federal funding for Appalachia tends to exclude most parts of Appalachian Ohio. Faber said Appalachian regions in Ohio are often overlooked when it comes to grants and he hopes to confront this problem if elected.  

Additionally, Faber said if he were elected he would want to hear the issues people are facing to better help support their passions and struggles. 

“I think I’ve seen firsthand and experienced firsthand a lot of these issues that, not just my family faced, but many families throughout the region face on a day-to-day basis,” Faber said. 

Adriane Mohlenkamp, co-president of the Athens County League of Women Voters, said she thinks the government should have representatives from all parts of Ohio. Molhenkamp said it’s important to have a diverse legislature so that everyone feels represented and it reflects the wide variety of people in the state. 

The League of Women Voters is a nonpartisan organization that works to engage voters in the area. Some of the ways they do this are through candidate forums and voter guides. Faber previously participated in their voter guide before the spring primary. 

Mohlenkamp said she hopes they can coordinate with the other League chapters in the district and organize a candidate forum to showcase Faber and Chavez to constituents. 

Mickey Hart, executive director at UCM, said that Faber is very passionate about the region and works tirelessly to improve the lives of people in Appalachia. Hart said he thinks Faber if elected, would be a voice for those who aren’t often represented in government. 


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