KENTON — A first-time candidate is hoping to bring positive change to Washington, D.C.
Delphos native Robert Fry, pastor of Maumee's Heritage Church of God for the past 28 years, is throwing his proverbial hat in the ring to challenge Republican incumbent Bob Latta for Ohio's 5th Congressional District seat.
“This is my first time running for public office,” Fry said. “So far, it's been great. People have been very receptive to the message.”
Speaking at the Hardin County Democrats Presidents Day Luncheon at Walnut Grove United Methodist Church north of Kenton, Fry spoke of the hardships he has encountered in the district.
“I've seen people trying to live on food stamps,” he said. “I've seen them lose their jobs because of outsourcing. I've seen people lose their homes. It's time to step out and do something. Enough is enough.”
Fry touted his lifelong residency within the district when asked how he would represent this congressional area, which takes up much of northwest Ohio, including Hardin, Hancock, Putnam, Van Wert and Mercer counties.
“I'm 63 years old. I was born and raised in this district,” he said. “I left to go to the Navy from 1969 to 1973. My father-in-law was a farmer, my brother-in-law is a farmer, and I have footprints throughout the entire district, and I do not like what's happening to it.”
Fry denounced recent cuts in food stamps, a move that he argues hurts those most in need.
“Now, 30 percent of people on food stamps are working,” he said. “Those are working poor. Another 30 percent are handicapped or elderly. So when you vote to cut food stamps, like our congressman just voted, you're hurting a lot of people. I work with those people. I help them find food when they don't have any food.”
Fry pledged to also fight for updating infrastructure and raising minimum wage.
“Minimum wage is where it was in 1968 when you factor in the cost of living,” he said. “That is not enough. I know. I work with people who make minimum wage that we have helped. If you haven't been there you don't know it. And my opponent hasn't been there and he doesn't know it, as apparent in his voting.”
While the Democratic Party has gained a reputation for liberalism when dealing with social issues, Fry said he has different views on various social issues.
“I know I'm running as a Democrat, but I am a minister,” he said. “Some of those issues are not part of this. I'm a gun owner, so we're not going to mess with the Second Amendment. Even though I'm pro-life, I'm going to try to help mothers raise their children, feed their children and give them real choices out there for education.”
Jackie Smith, Fry's campaign manager, is hopeful that his makeup will attract many crossover voters.
“It's amazing how much people will vote a certain way because of one issue,” she said. “Many people say that they either have to vote for their job or their conscience.”
Fry admitted that there will be some in his own party who may not agree with him on every issue, but he maintained that his focus will be on representing his constituents, not the party.
“I will go to Washington and there will be some things that the Democratic Party will not like about me,” he said. “There will be some things that the Republican Party won't like about me. But the people will like me because I will fight for the middle class and the disenfranchised.”