Oak Harbor Mayor Joe Helle plans to announce Saturday that he’s running for the Ohio House for District 89, seeking to represent Erie and Ottawa counties.
Helle, 31, is seeking the Democratic nomination for state representative in next year’s primary. If he wins it, he would likely oppose the incumbent, state Rep. Steve Arndt, R-Port Clinton, in the November 2018 general election.
Helle, who has been Oak Harbor’s mayor for a bit longer than a year and half, said Friday he decided to go ahead and announce early. His campaign site, joehelle.us, will go live Saturday. It has a ticker counting down to when Helle makes his official announcement at 1 p.m. Saturday.
“When I go to do something, I throw myself into it completely,” Helle said.
An early announcement also gives Helle time to start raising campaign funds and to let voters get to know him.
“I’m well known in Ottawa County but Erie County is going to be a challenge,” he said.
Helle is a former U.S. Army infantry sergeant who served in Iraq during the surge and also served in Afghanistan. He was discharged in 2011.
Since then, he has worked as a paramedic and a police officer and also served as regional manager for Team Rubicon, a veterans relief organization. He has two daughters, ages 2 and 6.
Helle said he’s running for the Ohio House for the same reason he ran for mayor — because he sees problems that need to be fixed. He said he respects Arndt’s service to Ottawa County, but believes it is time for a change.
Oak Harbor has lost about $150,000 in local government funds in the last couple of years. The cuts in state funding to local governments have forced local governments to raise taxes and reduce services, Helle said. Oak Harbor discovered it could not afford batteries and tires for its police cruisers.
“They are very much taking the target off their backs and putting it on ours,” he said.
Helle said he’s also upset with state lawmakers over the cuts in Medicaid they are trying to impose. House Republicans united to attack the program, Helle said.
“It’s an attack on our community’s most vulnerable. We’re attacking the people who need the care the most,” he said.
Read the full story from the Sandusky Register here