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Words of Wisdom as an Ohio Lawmaker Bids Farewell

December 30, 2011

COLUMBUS, Ohio – An Ohio policymaker who is considered a longtime champion against hunger and poverty is moving on – but not before offering some words of wisdom to his fellow colleagues and Ohioans.

After 17 years as a state legislator, Rep. John Carey (87th Dist., Wellston) is leaving politics for a position at Shawnee State University. His biggest piece of advice for fellow lawmakers is to listen to their constituents.

"I found that made me a better legislator, when I listened to folks and learned to take time on what their concerns were, listened to their ideas and how we could address them. I came up with some ideas, but most of the ideas that I worked on are good ideas that other people had, or maybe the other legislators had."

Carey says he's grateful to the voters and citizens who allowed him to represent them. He also says he's met some incredible people, including a man who traveled from Huntington to Columbus in a wheelchair, on a bus, just to talk to him about his disability. He also recalls a mother who did not want to sign custody of her son over to the government in order to receive care.

Carey says as a Republican, he believes in limited government, but he also believes the government should do for people what they can't do for themselves. To that end, he explains, he has worked closely with advocates for human services. He says poverty is something he sees on a daily basis.

"I come from an area with a very high poverty rate. I have friends and family that need services, so 'people in poverty' is not a concept for me; it's something that I understand."

During his time at the statehouse, Carey spearheaded an effort to create the Home First waiver program, which allows nursing home residents the option to receive care in their homes. He also won support to strengthen worker training programs, increase funding for indigent defense, and establish a statewide emergency alert system for at-risk adults.

Over the years, Carey says he has worked with both Republicans and Democrats to make sure state dollars go the furthest. In terms of the budget, he is convinced that state policymakers really do have the best interest of Ohioans at heart. That's why it's important for citizens to build a dialogue with their local leaders, he says.

"I would just encourage people to remain engaged and to understand that, when the budget's made, it's their money. The decisions that are made are tough decisions, but they can't spend more money than what's available."

Carey begins his new job January 1.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH