The new Franklin County commissioner faces her first election challenge since taking office in 2021.
Commissioner Erica Crawley, a Democrat who served two years in the Ohio House of Representatives before being chosen by the county’s Democratic Party to serve as commissioner in July 2021, faces Republican challenger Luis Gil in the election general.
Crawley is currently Chairman of the three-member Board of Commissioners. Gil previously ran unsuccessfully against Commissioner John O’Grady in the 2020 general election.
Commissioners are elected for four-year terms and will be paid $118,407 in 2023, according to Ohio’s revised code.
Born and raised in Youngstown, Crawley is a United States Navy veteran and has worked for Cuyahoga County Job and Family Services and other social service agencies. She replaced former Franklin County Commissioner Marilyn Brown, who retired in May 2021, after the Franklin County Democratic Party Central Committee chose her from a list of five candidates for the position.
Gil, 61, from the northwest side, left his native Venezuela for the United States when he was 18. He previously served on Wharton Village Council in Wyandot County. His challenge from O’Grady was his first campaign since moving to Columbus some nine years ago, although he has applied a few times to be appointed to vacant positions on the Columbus City Council.
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La Dépêche gave each candidate five days to complete a questionnaire, limiting them to 100 words for each question. Responses have been edited slightly for clarity.
About the Franklin County Commissioner Candidates
Erica Crawley (D)
- Age: 41
- Residence: Columbus
- Occupation: county commissioner
- Education: Juris Doctor from the Faculty of Law of the University of the Capital; Masters in Public Administration from Walden University; Bachelor of Arts in Criminology with a Juvenile Delinquency Emphasis from Cleveland State University
- Live: Member of Women Lawyers of Franklin County and League of Women Voters, Member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., Former Member of the Ohio House of Representatives, Member of the Board of Directors of Future Ready Columbus, Member of office of the Columbus Zoo & Aquarium, served in the United States Navy
Luis Gil (R)
- Age: 61
- Residence: Columbus
- Occupation: Spanish legal translator
- Education: Three years of study in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Toledo
- Eexperience : SME boss; previously served on Wharton Village Council in Wyandot County
Question: Why are you standing for election?
Crawley: While watching then-Senator (Barack) Obama accept the Democratic nomination for president, my great-aunt looked at me and asked, “Why not you?” This has been a guiding question throughout my journey as an elected official. I ran for office because we needed leadership that represented the everyday resident. I am a single mother of twin daughters, a United States Navy veteran, and strive to be an advocate for our working families, marginalized populations, and all of our neighbors here in Franklin County.
Gilles: Having come to this country from Venezuela, I know the impact that bad public policy can have on a community. I frequent all parts of Franklin County, from the suburbs of Dublin and Hilliard to the economically challenged areas of Linden, South Linden and Southfield. I see too many areas of our county being left behind, areas with an epidemic of crime, poverty and homelessness that are virtually ignored by county leaders. I am running to give voice to these areas and bring balance to the Board of Commissioners.
Q: What makes you the best candidate?
Crawley: Extreme division has grown over the years in our politics; political talking points that don’t actually meet the needs of Franklin County don’t bode well electorally, as my opponent knows from his previous election attempts. However, in my first year as Franklin County Commissioner, we made key investments in our community, like our historic $23 million investment in expanding early childhood education through Franklin County RISE program. It is policies like these, which our office has already adopted and will continue to enforce, that meet the needs of our residents.
Gilles: I’ve spent the past two years visiting civic associations, area commissions, churches, and many community groups in Franklin County, including NAACP, Amanecer, Stonewall, and Home Day events. independence of Somalia. I have heard many personal stories of challenges, frustrations and also suggestions for improvement, and I will take them with me in my service to the Board of Commissioners. You can’t sit in an ivory tower and provide effective representation to people who don’t have it. I have been on the street. I saw and spoke with homeless and hungry people. The prosperity of Franklin County does not reach them. We can do better.
Q: What are the two main problems you would face in the office and how would you tackle them?
Crawley: First, affordable housing: Franklin County had a goal of having 2,000 affordable housing units by 2030, a goal we have already achieved. However, we know we are not where we need to be. We are working to raise awareness of our Magnet Fund program, which provides complementary funding to develop more affordable housing with tax credits. Second, Employment Opportunity: In my first year on the Board of Commissioners, we expanded key workforce development programs (i.e. Building Futures, Driving Futures ; Roads2Work ; Tech Women of Color, etc.) and plan to continue to develop these programs our residents.
Gilles: The two main problems are crime and poverty. When it comes to crime, increasing the police presence will only get us so far. We need to start tackling the root causes of crime in and around Columbus. We need to take action to prevent criminals from choosing to become criminals, which means investing in early childhood education, before and after school programs and quality child care so parents can work. When it comes to poverty, I want to empower citizens and that starts with affordable, citizen-centered housing that meets the needs of every community.
Advance voting, including mail-in voting and early in-person voting, began on Wednesday and the election is scheduled for Nov. 8.