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Blog Post  |  02.03.2021
Calfee NOW Episode 12 With Ohio State Representative Kristin Boggs

On Episode 12 of Calfee NOW, Josh Sanders, Vice Chair of Calfee's Government Relations and Legislation practice group spoke with Ohio State Representative Kristin Boggs (D - District 18). 

Topics discussed included: 

  • How she got into politics. 
  • The makeup of District 18. 
  • The impact that COVID-19 and racial tension has had on District 18. 
  • Her legislative priorities for this year.
  • What advice she gives to newer General Assembly members trying to accomplish policy goals. 
  • What's the best way for constituents and clients to get involved with the budget process. 

Calfee NOW Episode 18

Watch the full episode.



Video Transcript

Josh Sanders:

Well, first, I want to thank and welcome System Minority Leader, Kristin Boggs from the 18th District to another of our Calfee NOW conversations. So, really appreciate the time and you being here.

Kristin Boggs:

Thanks for having me.

Josh Sanders:

I think I'm allowed to say you're probably one of my favorite legislators to interact with, so this is a real treat for me to get to do this.

Kristin Boggs:

I appreciate that. You're one of my favorite lobbyists, too.

Josh Sanders:

Thank you, thank you. So, I'm going to start off with that general question of why in the world are you doing this? How did you get into politics? Are you sorry you signed up yet?

Kristin Boggs:

I mean, first of all, I think it's fair to say that when I was appointed in January of 2016 to this seat life was very different and my expectations have drastically changed about what life in the legislature is and will continue to be since being appointed and then ultimately elected. But I got into politics because I was working at the Ohio Attorney General's Office. I was an assistant attorney general for about 10 years and my office looked over the State House Capitol. And I just really found myself doing a lot of complaining about what the legislature was doing, which in 2015 was pretty moderate things actually.

Josh Sanders:

If you compare it to now?

Kristin Boggs:

If only we had stopped there. But at the time they were these really radical ideas, like defunding Planned Parenthood and allowing guns in our daycares and universities. And just doing these really socially conservative things that I didn't feel as a practicing attorney with a $100,000 of student loan debt, as someone that was trying to start a family and trying to plant roots in Ohio, didn't think were the things that were going to help me be successful in Ohio or help keep me, or people like me in Ohio. And I just found myself constantly complaining at happy hours and dinners with friends like, "Why are they doing this? What are they doing? Why is this going to make Ohio great?" And the seat came open and my husband said, "You've been complaining a lot."

Josh Sanders:

Be careful what you wish for, right? [crosstalk 00:02:46] Back up that talk.

Kristin Boggs:

"Do you think you maybe want to run for the seat?". And I was like, "That's insane, absolutely not. I'm working at the Attorney General's office, how does that even look?" And he's like, "Well, maybe you should talk to someone about it." And I was like, "No way, no way." and then fast forward to the next morning at breakfast, I was like, "Do you think I could win?" And he was like, "No, no way." he's like, "Well you need to start talking to people because you obviously think that have some very strong feelings about what the legislature is doing. And you've represented many of the state agencies at this point so you understand how government works maybe you should talk to someone about it." So my goal was, "I'm just going to talk about it until somebody tells me that this is a bad idea and I should sit down."

Josh Sanders:

And now you are here you are five years later, right?

Kristin Boggs:

And now here I am five years later.

Josh Sanders:

Well, we're glad you did, that's for sure. And I think you're varying a very unique perspective to the State House because the State House is in your district, right? And that's part of the 18th. So give description of what the 18th House District is within [inaudible 00:04:03]

Kristin Boggs:

It is the coolest district in the state, I'm not going to lie. So my district is really unique in that I have the highest population of 18 to 25-year olds. And I have over half of my population is under the age of 50. And so when you think about what Ohio is, we are an aging state, I think people have accepted that. It is not reflective of what the 18 House District is. And so I have everything from Ohio University through downtown and through the southern part of Columbus City, I have German Village and Marion village. And then I have a couple of the first string suburbs, Grandview, Bexley. I have old townies, I have Franklin.

Kristin Boggs:

So I have a large number of craft breweries, I have a large number of colleges, not just Ohio State, but I have Capitol, I have Franklin. I have just a large restaurant bar scene, art museum, COSI, all of the wonderful theater and art that you can imagine and festivals. I'm just really, really fortunate to represent a district that has so much activity, a thriving economy, it's a really cool place to be able to represent.

Josh Sanders:

Well, and then that brings me into kind of my next question, with that district, it's so diverse racially, religiously, and then as you were mentioning with the restaurants and brew pubs, all that. So you have COVID obviously impacting all those places, you have what happened on the racial front this summer, now we're seeing you and I are both, I'm working from home today because of the possible issues, security threats at the State House, something that you're obviously dealing with a lot. How does the impact on your district? What has been the impact? Whether it has been that racial tension that has happened or from the COVID or what we're seeing right now?

Kristin Boggs:

Oh, I mean, I think there's a lot to unpack with that question.

Josh Sanders:

Yes, sorry.

Kristin Boggs:

Certainly, the civil unrest that we saw this summer, I think was very different for the people in my district than it was people that were outside of Ohio or outside of Franklin County. What I saw being the representative and living in the Short North, which certainly most of the activity was squarely centered around the State Capitol, but there were a lot of events going on at parks and in the Short North as well. I saw a community that really understood the difference between someone who was trying to speak out for civil rights and for justice, and the difference between people that were there to destroy property and vandalize businesses. And the businesses in my community very much understood the difference between those two groups of people and recognized that you could support what the mission of the protesters were that were speaking out for equality and justice and distinguish them from the people that were there to destroy property and wreak havoc.

Kristin Boggs:

And so what I saw in the community was really a bridge of support that came together. I mean, a lot of the businesses that had to be sheltered up because of the activity surrounding the protest came out with artists to paint signs and messages of support for the protestors, and to share that they wanted to stand with them in the mission that they were seeking for equality and for justice. And so that is a very different sense and feel than I think a lot of people outside of Franklin County understood because all they could see outside Franklin County was the destruction that was happening, and that wasn't what I saw.

Kristin Boggs:

I took a day shortly after one of the incidences where the majority of vandalism occurred to the businesses along High Street in the Short North. And I took a day and I put on my mask and I just took a walk, and I talked to everyone that was out on the street sweeping up the glass and trying to put boards back up. And over and over again, I heard from that community, "We stand with them, this has always been a community that embraced equality and inclusivity, and we don't want what happened today to change who we are and what our values are. And so we can sweep up this glass, but we're not going to let it change who we are." And that was really powerful, and it was really, I think, amazing to watch those community leaders and those business owners and the activists really take a stand together that bad things can happen and we can stay on message and still support each other.

Josh Sanders:

Well, to me, it's a fascinating look at what you're dealing with other legislators who are coming from all throughout the state. Just in my very small example, I'm out East 40 minutes or so, and I had a number of people say to me, "Oh, you're going downtown, isn't it scary?" It was never scary, but I think in a lot of people's minds who weren't around or didn't see it on a daily basis, it was like, "Oh, it's a war zone down there." So I imagine you're dealing with legislators who are two and a half hours northwest corner of Ohio, very different perspective?

Kristin Boggs:

I mean, it was very frustrating to see members of the legislature come down to the Capitol and put stuff on their social media about how angry they were that this happened to their capital. And certainly they have the right to do that, but it was really distorted sense of... Really distorted sense, isn't the right word, maybe they didn't share the full picture in that one tweet or that one post that they put on social media about the destruction and about how awful it was to see the State House be vandalized. It didn't reflect what was happening as a whole in the community. And that was I think it really fed this narrative that you mentioned was that people were thinking of this as just destruction and something that was all rooted in the vandalism and the bad parts of what was happening.

Kristin Boggs:

And even as recently as this week, when we've been preparing for the protests that were expected to happen as the transition of power in the presidency occurred, having conversations with law enforcement about the relationships that they've been able to develop now with different activists in the community are really genuine relationships where there's information sharing and dialogue and the ability to prepare for what could have happened this weekend. Because they now know so many of the leaders in the community, I think really created an advantage for them in trying to address this other scary situation that we were sort of competing for.

Josh Sanders:

Well, I was going ask that. Did you ever think you'd see the State House surrounded by [inaudible 00:12:54] and that much fencing and that many? I've never seen anything like it.

Kristin Boggs:

When I sought this position in 2016, I never honestly thought that I would Google how to buy a Kevlar vest and have a conversation with state highway patrol in a very serious way of do I need to tell my members that they should consider purchasing a Kevlar vests? And how did that be? Not joking, it's very serious. The was a recommendation that the Governor of Michigan and the attorney general in Michigan, both issued to their legislative members. And you have to ask the question, okay, does Ohio needed to be on this path as well? Do we need to take this kind of protection for ourselves? And I would have never thought I needed to have that conversation in 2016.

Josh Sanders:

Hopefully, you won't have to have it anymore. And let's talk about what you should be talking about. And we just started a new general assembly, I wanted to get your feelings on your priorities? And then as I mentioned you've been elected by your peers as System Minority leader, so your caucus priorities maybe they're the same exact, or what do you hope you work on this year? And what do you think your talk is [inaudible 00:14:31]?

Kristin Boggs:

Right. Well, I mean, I think, and this isn't going to come to a surprise to anyone, recovering from COVID is going to be absolutely the most important work that we do in terms of how you see the budget being shaped. We need to get people back to work, we need to get kids in school safely, that safely is the most important keyword there. Everybody wants to see kids back in school. And we're going to have a major issue with our daycares. We have 40% of our daycares believe that they're going to be closed by March, which means we're going to have 100,000 Ohio families without childcare. And so we are in a dire situation.

Kristin Boggs:

And I think that historically, we hear people talk about the budget is an opportunity to create jobs and implement workforce training opportunities, the problem is if people don't have somewhere to take their kids that they can rely on and have a safe place for their children, it doesn't matter how many jobs we create if parents can't get there. I think that we've seen this particular economic recession has been very different than the last eight sessions we've seen in the last 50 years in terms of this is the first economic recession in over 50 years where more women have lost jobs than men. And when you look at the December job loss, every single job loss was a woman, 120,000 jobs that were lost in December were lost by women. And obviously there were men who lost their jobs in December, but you had 16,000 men return to the workforce that leveled the offset. And that is very much tied into childcare issues and school issues.

Kristin Boggs:

And so we have done for a long time, wait too little to support people who take care of the people we love, whether that's our children, whether that's our aging parents, the people who care for the people we love have sort of been missed in this economy that we've created. And if we don't start giving them the support they need to continue taking care of people we love, we aren't going to be able to function, we aren't going to be able to get part of this workforce. And that doesn't matter how many job created or having workforce training opportunities that are available, you can't leave the house, you can't leave the house. So that's the lens that I think you're going to see lot of my [inaudible 00:17:34] members looking at COVID relief through is who are the people who historically haven't had a voice at the table who are being the most impacted in a negative way from this economic downturn? And trying to give them the relief and what they need to recover so that we can have a healthy economy.

Kristin Boggs:

And what's really interesting, and I won't belabor this any more, but when we talk about the record number of women leaving the workforce, what we know is since 1970, so really for the last 50 years, the only expansion we've seen to the middle class is directly correlated to women's economic gains. And so when we talk about this being devastating for women's economic security, it really is going to blow a hole in the entire middle class.

Josh Sanders:

Well, I think you outlined a great picture just how connected all of this is, you can't solve one problem if you're not dealing with this problem over here. And so how in the minority, right? I think you're on your third speaker since you've been here that you're dealing with the minority?

Kristin Boggs:

Maybe fourth or fifth [inaudible 00:18:57]

Josh Sanders:

How do you operate in that setting? What advice are you giving to your members about... Obviously we've seen it in committee where amendments get tabled, or maybe ideas aren't taken up because they're minority, what advice, especially to new ones coming in? What's the best way to get some of those policy goals through even though they might not have the Democrat as a lead sponsor on?

Kristin Boggs:

Right. I mean, that's a good question, and it has changed with every speaker. And I think we are very much trying to figure out the path with the new speaker that currently is holding the gavel. And I don't know what is going to be motivating for him at this point. I think that the tensions, I mean, we see it at the national level are pretty high between parties, I think the tensions at the state between parties are higher than I've ever seen them before. And I don't know what's going to break through that? Hopefully, we'll be able to start building back after COVID some of those fractured relationships. But it's really hard now when you can't even talk to each other because you have members that won't wear masks, and you're afraid that you're exposing yourself to getting sick from a virus that even if you're not personally afraid that you'll have the worst health outcomes from.

Kristin Boggs:

Me getting the virus means that my kids get kicked out of daycare for three weeks. So it's not like the flu, if I get sick and they get stuck home with me and that up ends my life. So I love them, I do, but it's just navigating these different challenges with COVID and feeling you can't talk to each other or you can't be together is really difficult in terms of building the relationships that you need to help work together, and that's where we're at right now.

Josh Sanders:

Yeah. It's been interesting from the lobbying side of things, that lack of interaction, usually we're at the State House or in your offices and that stuff can happen. So it's something we've had to adapt to for sure.

Kristin Boggs:

And we all miss it terribly. I am an Uber extrovert, I miss people.

Josh Sanders:

And you can't tell it at all.

Kristin Boggs:

Until we can be together safely, and work together safely as a body, I mean, the fears that my members have about attracting COVID are real. I mean, we had two members hospitalized because of an outbreak in finance and they put themselves at risk because it was lame duck and they were termed out and they had very specific legislative agendas that they wanted to accomplish. And they were willing to risk getting sick in order to do the work they needed to get that done, and they were hospitalized over Christmas because of it, and that's heart breaking.

Josh Sanders:

Yeah, totally. So just a couple more questions. One, so what's hard, being a mom to young kids or trying to get caucus people in line?

Kristin Boggs:

I don't know.

Josh Sanders:

You don't have to answer, that one you could just take a pass.

Kristin Boggs:

We decided we were going to get out of town this weekend because of all of the activity that was planned around the State House didn't want to be near it. So we got a hotel up on Cleveland, which is the first time we've stayed the night as a family of four together in a hotel for over a year and a half. And we realized my son, who's now two doesn't believe in sleeping in hotel rooms. So I might have a different answer to that question today than I would have five days ago.

Josh Sanders:

Oh, that's rough, that is rough. Well, now in more serious one, obviously we're going to put this out there and our client too, and watch it [inaudible 00:23:54] all the oxygen [inaudible 00:23:57] what's the best way for clients, for constituents to get involved in the budget process, as a huge policy besides just the numbers of things, it seems to be main policy driver anymore, suggestions on folks getting involved in the budget process?

Kristin Boggs:

Right. Well, they have to communicate. I mean, that's step alone is working with either their lobbying arm or if they have an association, raising it to their association or to their lobbyists to make sure that legislators know what requests they're seeking, calling their members directly. I mean, it's a full-frontal war that you have to sort of develop and it's engaging the lobbying community, engaging their association, and then having members of their association engaged directly with their elected representatives is really what you have to do. Because, obviously, and Josh, I know you appreciate this, we have a great relationship. You call me, you can explain something to me and I can understand where you're coming from, but nothing is as motivating as hearing directly from an impacted constituent about why they're seeking the legislative policy that they're seeking.

Kristin Boggs:

I love hearing from my constituents. I want to know what I can do through my position as a state representative to make their work better and make their life better, make their community better. And so those direct conversations with constituents mean the world to me. And they go a long way, but they don't necessarily always are able to take you past the finish line because you need 99 of us. Well, you need 51 of us at least to be on board with the suggested legislative policy that you're advocating for. And so that's where using an association that is similarly aligned with your values is helpful, and having a lobbying team is helpful. I mean, it's never this or that, it's and this, and that, and more, and so.

Josh Sanders:

Yeah. Well, and then the final thing I want to ask you about is the minority leadership, very diverse, I think top three spots are all women, you've been a champion of women in inclusion and that something that Calfee believes in deeply. And so just kind of want to get your thoughts on it seems that more women are entering politics to a degree. And just kind of your thought on those women who may have made that inkling or doing a lot of the complaining like you were saying, what gets them to take that next step? What would be your bites on say, yeah, go for it.

Kristin Boggs:

It's funny. I think women tend to run for office when they feel like their elected officials aren't listening to them, or the government is failing them. I talked to a lot of men who have a passion for government and have a passion for politics, and this is their first choice and a career path. And women seem to get involved in politics when all other avenues have failed. But I think that makes them incredibly strong advocates and incredibly strong members once they get here. And so I certainly, for any woman who is thinking about running for office, knowing the why, why you want to run? What is motivating you to run? Is I think a huge piece of that puzzle in terms of building out a platform to do that. And I think women do that really well because they always... Whenever a woman asked me to go to coffee and cause she wants to talk about running for office, she can tell me why she wants to run, and that is huge.

Kristin Boggs:

I think for women, it then becomes more of the hurdle of believing that they have the right skillset and that they have the right qualifications and that they have the support to be able to be successful. And I think that that is only going to happen when you continue to have more and more conversations with folks that can assure you that yes, you are qualified, yes, you have the right credentials, yes, you will have the support you need if you stick your neck out. And so with that in mind, my best advice is encouraging women to just talk to as many people as you can that you trust their opinion, you trust that they have the ability to guide you for what your best chances are. And then when you're ready, you call, and I'm always happy to talk to any woman is thinking about running for office.

Josh Sanders:

Terrific. Well, as usual wonderful advice and really appreciate your time and being able to work with you and before when we can actually do this face to face at some point, I hope hopefully soon again.

Kristin Boggs:

Hopefully soon, I agree. I miss seeing everyone buzzing around the State House and I miss that activity and that energy and I never thought I'd miss lobbyist so much, Josh.

Josh Sanders:

And that's with legislators, so it goes like that. Well, thank you. Have a wonderful rest of the day and really appreciate it.

Kristin Boggs:

Absolutely. Thanks, Josh.

Calfee Connections blogs, vlogs and other educational content are intended to inform and educate readers about legal developments and are not intended as legal advice for any specific individual or specific situation. Please consult with your attorney regarding any legal questions you may have. With regard to all content including case studies or descriptions, past outcomes do not predict future results. The opinions expressed may not necessarily reflect the view points of all attorneys and professionals of Calfee, Halter & Griswold LLP or its subsidiary. Updates related to all COVID-19 government assistance programs are provided with the most current information made available to Calfee at the time of publication. Clarifications and further guidance are being disseminated from government authorities on an ongoing basis. All information should be reaffirmed prior to the submission of any application and/or program participation.

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