ST. CLAIRSVILLE - Democrat Jennifer Garrison said members of Congress must overcome their differences if they are to create economic opportunities for their constituents.
Garrison, 51 - a Marietta, Ohio attorney who served three terms in the Ohio House - officially announced Tuesday she will seek the 6th District Congressional seat held by two-term Republican Congressman Bill Johnson.
"Congress should be focusing on two things," Garrison said. "First, they have to figure out how to work together. After that, the substantive issue is jobs and job creation efforts. Instead of focusing on infighting and rhetoric, I want to ask them, 'What have you accomplished?' We send representatives to Washington to do good things, and it is not happening."
Garrison made her announcement Tuesday during events in Marietta in Washington County, and later in Canfield, Ohio in Mahoning County.
Ohio's 6th Congressional District encompasses most of East Ohio from Southern Mahoning County southward along the eastern border to the Lawrence County tip, then northward and west into Scioto County.
Locally, Belmont, Harrison, Jefferson and Monroe counties all lie within the 6th District.
Garrison was born in Fort Thomas, Ky., just outside Cincinnati, and graduated from Xavier University.
She obtained her law degree from the Catholic University Law School in Washington, D.C.
While a student, Garrison worked in Ohio's Washington, D.C., office from 1985-1987.
She was first elected to the Ohio House in 2004, and served there through 2010. Garrison had announced plans to run for secretary of state in 2010, but later withdrew from the race.
After leaving the Ohio General Assembly, Garrison founded the Southeastern Ohio Landowners' Association.
The group has helped landowners throughout the region collectively negotiate bonus payments in excess of $250 million on their shale oil and natural gas mineral leases, according to Garrison.
"But what I'm most proud of is, we did this in a way so as to ensure environmental protections, as well as tax indemnifications for members," she said.
The natural gas industry "is a game changer in East Ohio, and it is going to result in economic development and job opportunities."
Garrison is considered within the Democrat Party to be a "conservative" Democrat, and is the first candidate to officially announce in the 6th District race. She could face a primary contest against Ohio Sen. Lou Gentile, D-Steubenville.
"I have been approached by people throughout the district who have encouraged me to run, but I have made no final plans as of yet," Gentile said. "I do expect to make a decision sometime soon."
Johnson, meanwhile, released his second quarter campaign finance report Monday.
The filing indicated that during the second quarter of 2013, he received individual contributions totaling $193,002, and another $258,487 from political action committees for a contribution total of $451,490.
He reports cash-on-hand of $315,610.