Brent Gray Interview

On Saturday, I had the opportunity to catch up with Brent Gray, Democratic candidate for State Representative in the state’s 29th district. Gray is running against Republican incumbent Louis Blessings for the seat in November.

Brent Gray, a Cincinnati native was born and raised in the West End. Gray graduated from Withrow High School and attended Morehouse College outside of Atlanta. Brent Gray served 13 years in the United States Air Force as a Human Resource Specialist and an Aircraft Technician during the times of the invasion of Grenada and during the Gulf War. While in the Air Force, Gray also attended The University of Maryland. After his military career, he worked for the United States Postal Service and now runs a real estate investment and development firm called, Capital Ventures Group. Gray is married, has 4 boys, and lives in Colerain Township.

Since this is a Drinking Liberally interview, I had to ask, what is your favorite drink? Gray responds, “I actually don’t have a favorite, I try to keep versatile in my choice.”

Gray’s career in politics started after the 2000 election of George W. Bush and during the 2004 election, he spent his time working with organizations such as Move On and John Kerry’s campaign for President. He is a long time friend of the Mallory family and has campaigned for Mark Mallory’s races for State Representative, State Senate, and Mark Mallory’s campaign for Mayor of Cincinnati. Brent Gray has worked as a Precinct Captain and is currently a Precinct Executive and has served on two committees: one for the 1st and 2nd Congressional District races to include the County Commisioner’s race, and one for the State Senator and State Representative selection committee on behalf of the Hamilton County Democratic Party.

When asked why he is running for State Representative, Gray says, “I am not doing this from motivation, I am doing this from inspiration. My candidacy involves people. People who are suffering from a loss of a job, from a foreclosure, and people who are just trying to get a quality education for their children.” He also added, “I am not a career politician and I see that as an advantage. I want to do what’s right for people and I am concerned for the future of our children. I am an average citizen, a small businessman who works hard to keep a roof over my head.” “We must take a non-partisan approach to solving the ills that plague our society less we perish in shame because it is far easier to fight for principles versus living up to them. We have to do something to make a change. We have to take care of home first,” said Gray.

Brent Gray’s campaign slogan is, “For A Better Day.” When asked, Gray said that his platform for a better day involves the 3 E’s – Education, the Economy, and the Environment.

On Education, Gray says, “You can’t just talk about the problem, you have to find a solution.” Gray says that his first priority as State Representative would be to champion or support legislation that would rescind Executive Order 2003-03T, which reduces funding to elementary and secondary education, which was signed by Governor Taft in 2003. When asked about, No Child Left Behind, Gray said that a more appropriate name would be, “Po’ Child Left Behind.” “The problem with this mandate is that the school systems are being challenged instead of the students.” Brent Gray wants to concentrate and find some measure for an equitable funding system for all schools – ways to fund them outside of just tax levies.

On the economy, Brent Gray told me about how Ohio is 1st in foreclosures of homes and 2nd in bankruptcy. Ohio is 11th in the nation in mass layoffs and ranks 50th in job growth. There are 270,000 Ohioans without adequate healthcare and the price of healthcare grows while salaries are not growing. “We need to be forward thinkers”, Gray says when talking about creating quality jobs. “There is no concern about the middle class”, he adds. When asked about corporate tax breaks and subsidies, Gray asks, “What are they giving us? Companies need to demonstrate what they will do for Ohio before we give them a break. Will they be a partner in the community and how much will they invest back into the community? We also need companies that will provide good jobs for Ohio.” The minimum wage in Ohio is also a concern to Gray.

On the environment, Brent Gray says that Ohio is one of the biggest polluters. “Clean air and clean water should be a birthright afforded to all Ohioans. Deregulation of controls on emissions such as CO², mining, drilling, and pollution threatens our environment and the health and welfare of generations to follow.” He adds that we need to look to the future and look into high-speed rail systems and re-tooling of auto manufacturers to produce environmentally friendly automobiles. Gray says, “We need some innovation.”

“Of course, there are other issues that affect every individual and every community”, Gray says. Things like predatory lending, waste management, and highway re-construction affect the people in his district. Brent Gray has been attending city council and township meetings in the 29th district as well as meeting with officials to find what issues affect the people in his district the most. “I don’t go to these meeting to blow my own horn, I go to listen and understand”, Gray adds.

On corruption, Brent Gray says, “The current administration both at the national and local level has deceived the American people and has betrayed the public trust. At the national level for the past 6 years and here in the GOP controlled Ohio General Assembly for the past 16. Yet we sit idly by entranced in despair, sitcoms and reality shows allowing unprovoked attacks on innocent people, wire tapping that clearly violates our rights to privacy, the total dismantling of social programs to aid the poor and elderly, a nine trillion dollar national debt and deficit of proportions where every child born as of this moment is $30,000 indebted to the government.”

With the latest ban on abortion in South Dakota and the potential of the same happening in Ohio, I asked Brent Gray his thoughts on abortion. “People are responsible enough to make their own decisions and the government should not tell a woman her decision anymore than they should tell someone how to practice religion.” Gray goes on to say, “We have more important matters at hand other than right to life/pro choice and same sex marriage rhetoric.”

Final thoughts? Gray said, “We need to change the statehouse before we change the White House. As Democrats and leaders we must fight the complacency and the framing that has paralyzed us make our voices heard by voting our conscious and mobilizing the masses for a better day. We really cannot afford to wait until 2008. Everybody needs to make sure to get out and vote.”

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