Alan Darnowsky

For OH-02

Meet Alan Darnowsky

My family and I owe a lot to this country. My grandfather was an immigrant who never learned to speak English well, but each generation since then had the chance to better themselves. It was the story of America’s promise. Now that promise is being broken—good education is out of reach for many, real wages are stagnant, and those on top are taking a bigger piece of the pie! I want to restore the opportunities that were afforded to me and my family to everyone, not just to a select few.

I spent 40 years in Information Technology, and about half that time I owned a small software firm. Running my own company taught me that if I didn’t satisfy my customers, they weren’t going to be my customers for long. I learned how to actively listen to people, to ask questions and find out what they really needed. I’m smart enough to know that I don’t have all the answers, and I truly want to hear from all the residents of the Second District. Together, we can build a better tomorrow.

My family and I owe a lot to this country. My grandfather was an immigrant. Because he never really learned to speak English well, he didn’t make a lot of money. My father grew up in a time where public schools were highly valued and he was able to get a good education, through college, at very little cost. He became an engineer and built a middleclass life style for himself.

During the 1960’s when this country aspired to great things, my father got a job working on the Lunar Module. My fondest memory of my father was sitting in the middle of night with him watching Neil Armstrong step onto the surface of the moon from a project my dad had worked on.

That was the summer between high school and college for me. At that time America’s traditional institutions were opening up and becoming more inclusive. Thus I was able to get into Yale even though I didn’t have what was then thought of as an Ivy League background.

My family’s story wasn’t that unusual. In fact it was the story of America’s promise – come for a better life and each generation does a bit better. Now that promise is being broken. Even though the economy has expanded greatly over the past forty years, many people’s real wages have remained stagnant. Those on top are taking a bigger piece of the pie! I want to restore the opportunities that were afforded to me and my family to everyone, not just to a select few.

After college I spent 40 years in Information Technology ending my career as a VP at Citibank. For about half that time I owned a small software firm. Running my own company taught me that if I didn’t satisfy my customers, they weren’t going to be my customers for long. It seems to be different in politics. You can make up for not satisfying your customers by attacking your opponent and labeling him a “socialist”.

I also learned how to actively listen to people, to not only hear what they say they wanted, but by asking questions to find out what they really needed. I am smart enough to know that I don’t have all the answers and I truly want to hear from all the residents of the Second District.

I got deeply interested in politics after I retired. I volunteered for several campaigns. In 2020 I ran for State Representative in a district in Clermont County.

My wife, Sabrina, has written a book about the history of Cincinnati Friends Meeting and is currently at work on two more books. We have lived in Loveland since 2006. Between us we have three children and one grandson. One of our passions is gardening. This is easy to see by looking at the pictures that we post.

The Issues

The Infrastructure Bill, recently signed into law, will benefit Southern Ohio in three ways:

In the Short-Term, we will see an Investment in … our Roads & Bridges, Electrical Grid, Water & Sewer Systems, and reliable High-Speed Internet Connectivity.  These investments will create good-paying Construction Jobs for our District. And, because of Federal Funding, these Jobs should also be given preference to our Veterans.  In Congress, I will fight for Buy American to Build America Legislation to insure the best Return-on-Investment.

The Medium-Term benefit will be Improvements to our daily lives …

  • Kids won’t have to go to a parking lot to find public Wi-Fi access to do their Homework;
  • Our Region will have better Roads, Reliable sources of Clean Water, and Dependable Sewer Systems;
  • Our Electric Grid, currently barely robust enough to handle its current load, must transition to Renewable Energy with Distributed Power Sources;
  • As EVs go from Fringe Product to Dominant Transportation Mode, we will need a grid that can seamlessly move power from where it is being generated – now to where it’s needed – now!

The Long-Term benefit to our Region will be its increased appeal to Businesses to locate facilities here.  Infrastructure upgrades that make our Region more attractive to Business will also make us more attractive to the Employees who will work at these Companies.

Part of the American COMPETES Act provides funding for domestic production of Semiconductors.  This was one reason why Intel decided to open a plant in Licking County.  We can’t stop there.  We need to extend similar provisions to other components vital to our Supply Chain and our National Security.

In Congress, I will work on these issues … and more.  You see, our Social Infrastructure is every bit as shabby as our Physical Infrastructure.  We need to invest in Universal Pre-K.  We need to cap Child Care costs so working parents in the Second District can focus on their jobs without worrying about their children being cared for.  The extra dollars from the expanded Child Tax Credit for lower-income parents made it easier to make ends meet and, with more money spent locally, it also boosted the local economy.  We need to renew the expanded Child Tax Credit.

We have to change our thinking in this Country — start looking towards the long term benefits and possibilities rather than only at Short-Term Gains.  Doing this, though, requires investment by both:  Industry and Government!  We need to energize our Educational Systems.  A Strong Nation will thrive on Economic Equality.  I promise to lead us towards a brighter, more prosperous future.

In a democracy, our most sacred right is the right to vote. This is under attack in many Republican-dominated states in our country. Voter suppression laws are being pushed in many states, including Ohio. We had record turnout in the elections in 2020 during a pandemic. The Ohio Secretary of State audited the votes in 2020 and found only about 100 cases of fraud out of almost 6 million votes cast. Yet he and the State Legislature want to restrict such things as voting by mail and using drop boxes. We shouldn’t be suppressing voters; we should be encouraging more people to vote by making it easier to register and to vote.

There are power grabs in other states to move control of elections from traditionally bi-partisan Boards of Election to more partisan bodies such as state legislatures. After viewing the shambles that the Republicans have made of redistricting in Ohio, would you want these people in charge of running elections and counting the votes? The legislature is defying the Ohio Constitution and the Ohio Supreme Court in an attempt to retain power. It makes more sense to keep control of elections where it is currently, in the professional hands of people who act as public servants.

We should make elections fairer. The amount of dark money in politics is obscene. Nobody should be able to buy an election. We also need to eliminate partisan gerrymandering to prevent the kinds of partisan games we are currently seeing in Ohio.

Nobody should have to choose between medical care and groceries, between paying for housing and paying for prescription drugs. Everyone deserves good health insurance, insurance they can actually use, insurance that is accepted by most providers, that covers pre-existing conditions, that has affordable co-pays and deductibles. Insuring more people will actually pay for itself. The emergency room is the most expensive and least efficient way to deliver health care. By making sure people can see a doctor on a regular basis, expanding affordable health care will deliver better outcomes at a lower cost.

One way to achieve this is to lower the Medicare eligibility age to 60, with a buy-in starting at age 50. The government should be able to negotiate prices on prescription drugs. Not being able to negotiate drug prices costs the government billions of dollars and takes money out of the pockets of people who generally can’t afford it.

We also need to beef up our rural hospital systems. We should offer incentives to medical professionals to provide care closer to where people live.

Funding should be restored for Planned Parenthood, since that organization is often the only place for prenatal and gynecological care in an area. I trust women to make their own health care choices. Abortion should remain not only legal, but accessible. The bills banning abortion and those requiring unnecessary medical procedures to get one are really attacks on poorer people. What is a hindrance for well off-people becomes an insurmountable barrier for a poor person.

It is past time to get serious about climate change so that we can leave a livable planet to our children and grandchildren. We need to move to renewable energy sources as quickly as possible. We have to make our electric grid more robust so that electricity can be moved seamlessly and efficiently from where it is being generated to where it is consumed. This becomes even more important as electric vehicles go from being a fringe market to becoming the dominant type of automobile, thanks to the introduction of electric versions of popular models like the new Ford F150.

Switching to renewable energy sources will also aid our country in terms of both economic development and national security. The jobs created by the construction and operation of clean energy sources can’t be offshored. We have the manufacturing know-how and skilled work force right here in Ohio to make this happen.

We need more public-private partnerships like H2Ohio, this time on a federal level, to address environmental problems like cleaning up our water supply on a large scale. I favor programs like the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

The Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant in Pike County has been an environmental hot spot since it closed in 2001. A congressman who truly cared about the well-being of his constituents would have led the fight to get the cleanup done in a timely fashion. Instead, Pike County was forced to close the Zahn’s Corner Middle School in 2019 because so little had been done to remedy the situation. You need a congressman who will get things done for you!

The promise of America has always been that if you worked hard, you could do well for yourself, and your kids could even do a little better. Now it seems that that promise is being broken. Over the last 40 years the economy has expanded greatly, while for many people real wages have remained stagnant. In 1965 the ratio of CEO-to-typical-worker compensation was 21:1, in 1989 it was 61:1, and in 2020 it was an astronomical 351:1. What happened?

When Ronald Reagan took office he made two basic changes in his approach to the economy. The first was to bust the powers of the unions. He was extremely successful in doing this. As a percentage of the workforce, union membership went from about 20% in 1983 to about 11% in 2020. This has depressed all wages, which helps explain why it’s so hard today to work just one job and still support your family.

The other thing he did was to adopt Trickle-Down economics as a way to boost the economy. Trickle-Down theory says you can boost investment by lowering the tax burden on the wealthy and on corporations. The top marginal tax rate on individuals went from 70% in 1980 to 50% in 1982, and is now 37%. The idea was that corporations would use the extra money to improve their companies so that they could increase output and hire more workers. It didn’t work. The wealthy either socked their extra cash away in savings or spent it on luxury goods and services, benefitting a very narrow range of industries. The corporations increased their stock buybacks, which made short-term money for their owners and managers.

The 2017 tax “cuts” were more of the same. They were even designed in such a way that taxes for many of us have actually gone up since then.

A better theory for stimulating the economy is called Trickle-Up, which stresses putting more money in the hands of people who really need it. They will spend it on necessities, which will inject the extra money into the overall economy. We had an unplanned test of Trickle-Up in 2020. As many sectors of the economy were forced to shut down because of Covid, people felt pain and the economy suffered, but it didn’t collapse. There was no second Great Depression because of transfer payments such as enhanced unemployment benefits.

What should we do about the growing economic inequality in our country? We need to increase the wages of ordinary Americans by strengthening unions with the Pro Act and increasing the minimum wage to $15 per hour. We need to lower people’s expenses by expanding affordable health care and putting a cap on the costs of child care. We should have the wealthy pay their fair share of taxes by increasing the top marginal rate. We should put more money in the hands of the neediest among us by doing things like renewing the Child Tax Credit, which reduced child poverty in the US by an estimated 30 percent, and food insufficiency by 25 percent.

My opponent voted for the 2017 tax “cut” and against renewing the Child Tax Credit. He wasn’t looking out for the people of the Second District. I will.

Dealing with government agencies can be frustrating for everyday people, especially if they’re not comfortable using computers. Code for America is a non-profit that helps people interact with various federal agencies all at once so that they receive all the benefits that they are entitled to. Federal legislators should figure out how to deliver services so that they reach their intended audience. Right now there is a cottage industry that helps people decide which Medicare benefits are best for them. This kind of service should be part of Medicare. Code for America’s ultimate goal is to put itself out of existence as delivery becomes part of federal benefits.

Many people have a fireproof metal box that contains vital documents such as medical directives and a will. However, if you aren’t in a condition to make your wishes known, they will probably be ignored. These documents can now be stored electronically either in the cloud or embedded in a chip on a card. Studies have shown that states can save billions of dollars if they don’t have to take actions without knowing your wishes, and the federal government can save hundreds of billions. Not only will this save money, but it will also make sure that your wishes are carried out and save your loved ones from trauma.

This Country, our Country, has always had an unbreakable commitment to those who serve in our Military. We must insure this promise is kept. We must ensure our Veterans the ability to re-enter Civilian Society; Physically | Emotionally | Financially.

My father and uncle were both able to finish college under the GI bill. They took that Education and built Middle Class lives for their families. It’s just as important that these same opportunities be available to recent – and future – Veterans. And, if attending college isn’t right for some, their GI benefits must be available for job training programs … such as Helmets to Hardhats.

We owe it to Veterans to make an easier path to good-paying jobs. Veterans currently experience higher rates of unemployment than the population at large. Because the Civilian workplace tends to be different than the Military, America must provide assistance to help Veterans readjust to Civilian Employment.

Veterans also experience significantly higher rates of Homelessness. Transitioning into Civilian life must include Housing Assistance, as it did for the heroes returning from previous World Wars.

Many Veterans return from their Service – Damaged!  Whether Physically, Financially, or Emotionally … their pain is real; if not always obvious to those around them. That’s why, every Veteran, prior to their separation, must be screened for PTSD and Brain Trauma.  Such instances may well turn out to be much higher than the Military and VA want to admit. But, every case must be dealt with. Veterans, disabled as a result of their Military Service are entitled to receive care from the VA healthcare system; specially-trained staff to treat the many specialized needs not seen in the civilian health care system in such volume and degree; PTSD, severe Physical Trauma.

Concerned Veterans for America, is a “false-flag”; a Koch funded group that pushed the Mission Act through Congress in 2018.  My opponent, the incumbent for Ohio’s 2nd Congressional District, was a principal sponsor of the Mission Act. The long term goal of the bill, under a guise of making Veterans’ care more cost effective, is to privatize the VA. It’s hard to imagine how such a system will be able to meet the specialized needs of disabled Veterans.

Now the Asset and Infrastructure Review (AIR) Commission, set up under the Mission Act, has the Chillicothe VA Medical Center squarely in its cross-hairs; marked for potential closure. The loss of over 1400 good paying, Union jobs would be devastating to the economy of Chillicothe – and the Region! More importantly, the Veterans who depend upon the Chillicothe VA for their medical needs, including mental health care, would be forced to travel to Dayton for acute care.  Many of these veterans are over 60 and not in good health.

Some of our veterans are also in need of the different care level found in a nursing home. The Ohio Veterans Home, in Georgetown, has a waiting list of about 100. Congress needs to be finding ways for this facility to be expanded and improved.

Instead of looking to close facilities, our Country should be looking to make them better.  I will work to make them better.

We should be testing all veterans mustering out for PTSD and traumatic brain injuries. We must establish women’s centers at every VA Hospital for counseling about sexual trauma in the military. We should honor Veterans’ service not by empty speeches and marching in parades, but by keeping our promise, as a country, to them. That’s what I commit to working on, when I win this Election.

In part because of the broader availability and the use of Naloxone, Opioid deaths in Ohio declined in 2018.  But, they rose back up again in 2019, and have continued to rise throughout the Pandemic.  According to the CDC, our Citizens continue to struggle with substance abuse disorders during the pandemic; the main causes being: 

  • social isolation;
  • lack of safe access to treatment; and
  • mental health conditions that remain untreated.

Drug Addiction is a Public Health problem, not a criminal one.  The mother of a substance abuser once told me, “… an addict in jail is not experiencing his real environment.  While incarcerated, the addict does not experience their real environment.”  Substance abusers behind bars aren’t expected to do anything.  When released though, the stresses and problems from their real-world environment are there, waiting for them; providing the perfect environment to relapse.

Addiction rehabilitation facilities need to evolve.  Instead of isolating substance abusers, we need to have sufficient resources, in local treatment facilities, to handle needs on a Regional approach; not-for-profit centers, heavily regulated … these facilities are handling drugs, and we know that when improperly regulated, such facilities tend to bend the rules.  Treatment centers can then focus on underlying addictive personality traits, not just the current addiction.  These facilities must offer broad medical treatment, including drug and psychological counseling; their clients must be taught how to handle addictive traits once released from the facility.  Rehab in lieu of incarceration could be a comprehensive program including Mental Health Treatment, Work Programs, and a possible expungement of record upon completion.

More on such proposals is available for review in the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act(s).

We need to step up our fight against the supply-side of the Opioid EpidemicPurdue Pharma, one of the biggest producers of opioids, and the Sackler family, who have profited from Purdue, recently agreed to significantly improve their Settlement Agreement.  Other Distributors have settled claims against them.  And, legal action is still pending against other Manufacturers, Distributors and against Big Retailers.  Any money recovered must be set up to help finance Treatment and Research.

We also have to Stop the supply of Opioids, coming from foreign countries in Latin America and the Far East.  But, to accomplish this, America will need acknowledgement and cooperation from the Governments of those Nations.  No Wall, on our Southern Border, is going to single-handedly stop the influx of drugs into our country.

Marijuana should be treated the same way alcohol is treated in this country. It should be taxed and regulated. It should be sold only for personal use. The DUI statutes should be extended to include marijuana use. People should be able to grow a limited number of plants in their home for personal use and not for distribution. To carry the analogy to alcohol further, we want people to be able to make their own wine and beer at home, not become moonshiners.

The More (Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement) Act has passed the House of Representatives twice. Its future in the Senate is uncertain.

  • It would remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act, which decriminalizes it at the federal level and enables states to set their own policies.
  • The bill would expunge past arrests from people’s records.
  • It would allow more medical research which could have far reaching benefits in the areas of pain management and stress relief among others.
  • It would allow the existing marijuana industry in states where it is legal to access services and standard tax treatment available to all legal businesses. Access to the federal banking system is especially important because marijuana has been forced to be a largely cash business up until now
  • It would enable VA doctors to make medical cannabis recommendations to veterans. This could be very helpful in the treatment of PTSD and chronic pain. Many veterans are turning to opioids to treat these conditions now.
  • It would remove the threat of loss of earned benefits or deportation for people accused of minor marijuana infractions.

If the MORE Act doesn’t pass the Senate, at a minimum, we need the Safe Banking Act to become law. This law allows federally chartered banks to offer banking services to legitimate cannabis businesses. The lack of access to the federal banking system means that legal businesses, whether for medical or recreational marijuana, have to handle a lot of cash. This leads to increased risk of robbery.

The incumbent has voted against both More Acts and the Safe Banking Act. I would vote for the More Act. We are spending too much money and ruining too many lives in a “war” against a substance that doesn’t come close to the toxicity of opioids!

I was endorsed by a leading cannabis legalization group in Ohio during the 2020 election.

Paid For By Alan Darnowsky for Congress