Making racial history isn’t a concern for HolmesPublished: 6/14/17 @ 12:09
State Rep. Glenn Holmes doesn’t give much thought to making history as the first black American elected to the state Legislature from Trumbull County.
“We didn’t think of ethnicity, or this has never been done before” when seeking the Ohio House 63rd District seat in last year’s election, said Holmes, a Democrat from McDonald. “We never thought of the groundbreaking nature of running for this office. But the dynamics weren’t in my favor, though. There are 30 [black-Americans] in McDonald. There are probably 500 in the district.”
As for those who backed him with 60 percent of the vote in the November 2016 general election, Holmes said, “They just want results. They want somebody who’s going to represent them and serve them sincerely. You work and you do it passionately and that transcends a lot of things.”
Holmes, 59, reluctantly got involved in government service when he joined the board of zoning appeals in McDonald in 2001. Blacks make up 1 percent of the village’s population.
When initially asked to join, he said, “No, I don’t want to get involved. I always told my kids that you get the community you’re willing to be involved in, but I wasn’t living it. I took the board appointment and that led to an appointment to village council. Then there was an election [to council] and I became president of council and then I was elected mayor in 2007.”
Holmes said being one of only a few black people in his House district isn’t an issue when it came to politics.
“It’s a concern if you make it a concern,” he said. “If you serve people, and you’re willing to be of service, you make yourself necessary. If you sincerely want people around you to be happy, and you can identify a need and there’s something about you that can fill that need, then people gravitate toward that. I think that transcends ethnicity.”
Holmes said, however, he deals with racism “every day,” but “if you’re willing to forgive people and love them in spite of it and not let them beat [you] down and you serve them,” you win them over. “I forgive you. I’m not mad. It’s like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.”
He added, “If you don’t make that [racism] in the forefront of your mind, other people are more likely to not make that in the forefront of their minds.”
While serving in the Ohio House for less than six months, Holmes, who spent 34 years at FirstEnergy before retiring in February as a substation inspector, has priorities he wants to accomplish during his time in the General Assembly.
Holmes said he wants better regulation of injection wells, including reducing the number of them – particularly in Trumbull County – and finding more responsible ways to dispose of fracking waste.
He also wants to reduce lead in water and sewer lines, and fight the opioid crisis by providing money from the state’s rainy-day fund, which is in excess of $2 billion, and give it to counties.
The Ohio House Democratic Caucus recently appointed Holmes to serve as the ranking Democrat on the State and Local Government Committee.
As a new member of the Ohio Legislature, I’m humbled to have been chosen for this important position,” Holmes said. “It’s truly an honor to serve the great state of Ohio and its citizens, and I look forward to continuing my service in this new role.”