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February 24, 2012

Lake County candidate sees ‘the need in my community’

Eastlake, Ohio--James Helmink is a young man on a mission: He wants to send a Democrat who stands up for core Democratic principles to the Statehouse from District 60.

He believes he is that man, especially compared to one of his opponents in the March 6 primary, Lake County Commissioner Daniel Troy. Helmink notes that Troy was endorsed by the Ohio Right to Life Political Action Committee, an odd endorsement for a Democratic candidate in northeast Ohio.

Helmink is one of four LGBT people running for the Ohio House of Representatives this year. Rep. Nickie Antonio of Lakewood is up for re-election, Wood County Commissioner Tim Brown has no primary opponent for the District 3 seat, and Steve Newsome in Cincinnati is running against incumbent Louis Terhar.

The battle Newsome faces is not one that confronts Helmink, who is vying for a seat being vacated by term limits. District 60 is a new one in northwest Lake County that includes much of the present District 62, now represented by Lorraine Fende, also a Democrat.

The main reason Helmink is running is because he believes he should.

“I saw the need in my community,” he noted. “I was always involved when I was young. I just don’t like the way things were going in Columbus.”

Attending law school at Ohio State University, Helmink, who turned 29 on February 23, worked with Ohio Senate Democrats, and believes the legislature needs to focus its attention better.

“My primary objectives are getting the general assembly focused again on fixing the economy, restore funding to our schools, keep our public universities affordable, protect seniors and stop the assault on women’s rights,” he noted.

Other than Troy, 63, Helmink also faces Eastlake councilor Laura A. DePledge, 48, in the primary.

“Our representative needs a better grasp and understanding of the technical issues facing the state today--innovation, facing the future,” Helmink said. “My opponent [Troy] is opposed to things like domestic partner benefits. I think we need Democrats who stand up for core Democratic values and can make Ohio a better place.”

Helmink was valedictorian of Eastlake North High School in 2001, then studied undergrad at Georgetown University, garnering a bachelor’s degree in foreign service, and had a strong focus in his studies there on economics.

His platform centers around bringing high-tech and green jobs to Ohio, and improving the education system at all levels. He also supports the House Democrats’ proposed Ohio Voter’s Bill of Rights, which opposes the gerrymandering that has occurred in the state. While he does not oppose the economic benefits of hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” he believes that strong regulations need to be in place to protect the environment.

He also supports enumerating groups in Ohio’s anti-bullying laws, and is an advocate of the LGBT Equal Housing and Employment Act, among other issues.

His campaign has been knocking on doors and making calls. There are 5,100 registered Democrats in the district, and he’s hit 6,500 doors and made over a thousand phone calls.

“They’re getting really excited and we’re getting a great response,” he enthused. “I think we’ve got a really good shot at pulling this off. We have a fantastic plan for the last two weeks.”

While the Plain Dealer endorsed Troy in the primary, their comments on Helmink were very positive, calling him “an energetic candidate who has done his homework.” The paper also called him “impressive.”

Helmink has also been endorsed by the Cleveland Stonewall Democrats.

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