Candidate Name: Crystal Lett
Candidate’s Preferred Pronouns:
She/ Her/ Hers
What office are you running for?
Ohio State Senate District 16
With which party are you running for office?
03/17/2020 Primary – 11/03/2020 General
Why are you running for office?
I am running for elected office because all Ohioans need a champion who will fight for them at the Statehouse. Being involved in various activist organizations throughout my life, one theme is clear: I will fight for those who need a voice. From kids dealing with mental illness to families in need of medical benefits, I know that strong families build a stronger community. It is my sincere goal to take my activism to the State Senate to fight for all Ohio families.
I’ve spent thousands of hours knocking on legislator’s doors on behalf of organizations like Save the Children Action Network, Paid Leave for the US (PL+US), Children’s Hospital Association, Ignite our City, Indivisible Ohio District 12, Protect our Care, and other nonprofit organizations. Through this citizen lobbying, one thing has become clear: I could achieve a lot more if I was sitting on the other side of the door, helping to craft legislation to empower Ohio families. I’m ready for that challenge.
Supporting women has always been one of my top priorities in life. Through my work navigating the mental health system, as an advocate with Save the Children Action Network championing the health and education of women and children, working with PL+US and the Women’s Public Policy Network to ensure paid leave for all workers, and bringing Women together to learn more about political involvement when co-founding The Salon Lab Columbus – a central theme of supporting women can be seen throughout. When women have autonomy over their lives and bodies, they thrive. Not only do they themselves thrive, their communities do too. Women don’t just climb the ladder – they reach their hand down and pull others up with them. That is what I strive to do every day in politics, in my profession, with my friends and family, and for my community.
What is the biggest issue facing your community and how do you propose helping?
Legislatively, the most important topic to voters, through my personal conversations in district, is that of quality, affordable healthcare. I relate to voters in the district because my family has experienced some of the most difficult downfalls of our current system: having a sick loved one, navigating the Medicaid system, falling off the benefits cliff, and now navigating the world of private/employer plans – all while trying to manage everyday life and make ends meet. Through my professional life as mental health case manager, my family’s experience, and my advocacy work, I have been able to identify many of the pitfalls in the current system and will work hard to address them.
Another area that constituents are gravely concerned about is the protection of reproductive freedoms. As an advocate for Planned Parenthood, I share their concerns. As a woman in the Statehouse, I plan to use my voice in a vulnerable but powerful way – sharing my story of utilizing Planned Parenthood for reproductive services. Although our caucus is small, our voices are loud, and I will be a strong voice for choice in the Ohio Statehouse.
And finally, people want a strong public education system. The district includes Upper Arlington, Dublin, Hilliard, Southwest Schools, and Columbus City Schools. I have met with constituents connected with each of these districts and have learned that parents, teachers, students, and administrators are concerned primarily for three things: eliminating unhelpful and burdensome standardized testing, re-working the way we fund public education to ensure that every child receives a great education, and making sure that our teachers feel supported as they work hard to nurture children in the classroom.
How do we fix the partisan divide in our country and start working together again?
One of the ways we can fix the partisan divide in our country, is to start talking to each other again. Through many community conversations, I realized that there is a perception of politics as being too dirty or nasty – essentially baring those who do not want to be dragged through the sludge from entering the arena. Although politics can certainly be nasty at times, there are in fact, many good people trying to make a difference. My goal has been trying to align myself with those people, bring new folks in (especially women), and teach them how to advocate for the things they care about in their community.
To that end, I started a group called The Salon Lab Columbus (TSLC). TSLC serves as a point of entry for women who want to learn more about issues and engage them in a political way. My co-founder is a Republican and I am a Democrat. Every month, we discuss an issue (federal, state, or local) from both sides of the aisle. Everyone gets a chance to ask questions and participate in the discussion and network with each other before and after. My co-founder and I have found that these conversations, even when difficult topics are being discussed, have been very civil, informative and engaging for the participants. Several of our participants have gone on to become advocates for national organizations – like Save the Children Action Network.
I will continue to work hard to bridge the divide that currently exists, with the ultimate goal of uniting factions for the good of us ALL.
Who is your hero?
My hero is Eleanor Roosevelt. I have learned so much from Eleanor over the years. I most admire the way that she always rose to meet the challenges life threw at her. Eleanor seemed to transcend so many constrictions of her time – in her role as FLOTUS, in her work, and in her role as a mother and wife. Although she caught plenty of negative attention from those who opposed her, she always carried herself with dignity and offered respect to all those in her wake. As a woman working hard to blaze new trails in the political system, with the goal of taking on a new leadership role, I will strive to embody the spirit of Eleanor to help see me through.
What are your hobbies?
When I’m not working, politicking and wrangling my three children, I love to read, practice yoga, eat delicious food with friends, and travel.
What is the most recent book you read?
The most recent book I’ve read was “The Warmth of Others Suns” by Isabel Wilkerson. This beautiful story takes you through several people’s journeys through the Great Migration and the Second Great Migration. It was a lovely historical account that really gave life through words to the experiences of African-Americans and the country during this time. I have found this book to be relevant today in understanding how our country has dealt with (or not dealt with) racial disparity and could serve as a guide post for many white Americans who seek to better understand the history and experience of African-Americans.
Do you have any kids/pets/talking houseplants?
I love this question!
I have three kids! Noble Lett is 8, Henning Lett is 7, and Augustine Lett is 6. My oldest son, Noble, was born with a rare genetic disorder that leads to global developmental delays. Through my experience parenting Noble, and subsequently my other kids, I have learned to be a stronger person – an advocate for others in a way that has truly changed me. I have learned to see the world through the eyes of those that cannot advocate for themselves. Parenting Noble has also redefined the way I view humanity.
I think so often, that people look at those who develop differently as less than – whether it’s a conscious belief or an implicit bias. Noble has allowed me to experience first hand, the beauty in neuro diversity. Every single person on this planet has intrinsic value and deserves complete dignity and respect. It is with that perspective that I work from when advocating – a true desire to see others thrive and to take care of my fellow community members. I will never stop fighting to see liberty and justice for ALL.
How can our readers get involved in your campaign?
This is going to be a very competitive race. The district is leaning Democratic, but we will be massively outspent. So, the #1 way to help is by going to http://www.secure.actblue.com/donate/demcastoh and making a grassroots contribution.
Sign up to volunteer / get more info at LettForOhio.com!
What question do you wish we’d asked, and what is your answer?
I love the question, “If you had a superpower, what would it be?”
My superpower would be complete restorative power. By this, I mean a complete ability to restore things that have been broken to their original state. I think about this in terms of healing the planet, especially. I would love to be able to wave a magic wand, while wearing a flower crown, and restore our earth to stasis. The lack of will to protect our planet bothers me perhaps more than I am even able to articulate well in words. The best way I know how to describe it is that pit you feel in your stomach when you know something is wrong, but aren’t sure you alone can fix it. I want so badly to be able to wave a magic wand and make it all work out, but until then, I’ll do my part to reduce my carbon footprint, be a good steward of our planet’s resources, and do more as I learn more ways to be helpful.
Post created from answers submitted by candidate to our Meet the Candidate survey.
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