Photo of Connie Gadell Newton

If the 2016 election cycle of chaos has taught us anything, it’s that anti-establishment candidates are a future choice against the two political parties which have been entrenched for far too long.

Instead of holding their nose when they vote, progressives are turning away from the Democratic party. They are seeking candidates truly in line with their beliefs. Bernie Sanders, of course, has become the face of the left’s history-shattering movement. Unfortunately for conservatives, their predicament is flat-out disturbing.

No surprise is how this new-found focus for a true progressive is surging not just on a national level but locally, too.

Look no further than Olde Town East where a resident and an attorney is running for Ohio House of State Representative 18th District, which encompasses Columbus, Grandview Heights, German Village, Franklinton and the Near East.

Constance Gadell-Newton is the Green Party candidate for the 18th District and is Co-Chair of the Ohio Green Party Central Committee, which nominated Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein in April.

The 36-year-old Gadell-Newton graduated from Bishop Watterson High School and with honors from Ohio State. She studied criminal law at Pennsylvania State University, and currently practices criminal defense law and juvenile law, and you can often find her at the Franklin County Courthouse.

Her passion, however, is activism. She is a true progressive during a time when the ideologies of some progressive candidates are uncertain, confusing, and a bit conniving with sell-out tendencies.

Gadell-Newton on the other hand is a staunch environmentalist with a local focus. She wants to protect local wildlife and natural spaces, both of which are being devoured by Central Ohio sprawl.

While many candidates remain out-of-touch, she has bore witness to the entire Columbus community. Her experience as a criminal defense and family law attorney has given her an up-close view of the society’s problems.

She’s promoting higher wages, affordable housing and small businesses. And because she has witnessed the misery of addiction on such a personal level, she’s seeking greater mental health and substance abuse services.

Public health is a priority to Gadell-Newton. It’s not just our establishment City Council we should worry about, she says, but also many local government offices. A recent Guardian investigation is claiming 33 American cities have cheated on their water regulations so to underestimate the amount of lead. Columbus made that list.

“Columbus cheating on water regulations is very unsettling indeed, since we are all avid water drinkers,” says Gadell-Newton tongue-in-cheek. “I am for more frequent water testing and transparency in publishing the results. I am also against corruption that would allow cheating on water testing to persist and unfortunately local corruption is a problem.”

Her Catholic upbringing has made her an advocate for “freedom of religion,” but she also supports “freedom from religion,” as well.

“I support the rights of all people to live in peace and practice their respective belief systems,” says Gadell-Newton. “I support the separation of church and state. I am secular but I support the rights of people to practice their religions. I welcome all people, faiths and non-faiths.”

Raised by a single mother who struggled to make ends meet, Gadell-Newton vividly remembers her time of “abject poverty.” But through hard work and education her mom turned her life around into a successful nursing career. Her mom soon re-married, and the step father, a teacher, also had a lasting influence on her.

“My mom worked hard to give me a good life,” she says. “Being raised by a nurse and teacher had a big influence on me. Although I did not have many luxuries, my family always tried to give me good health, nutrition and education, including private high school.”

Gadell-Newton knows she’s fortunate that poverty didn’t marginalize her adulthood. She says poverty is the greatest factor behind poor decisions. Mistakes exasperated by over-criminalization.

“As a criminal defense attorney, I have seen firsthand the impact that over-criminalization has on our local economy,” she says. “Many Ohioans are effectively unable to work due to driver's rights restrictions and criminal records. Incarceration and criminalization are a heavy burden not just on the individual, but on whole families and society at large. The government needs to stop extracting wealth from the people via over-criminalization and the penal system.”

Gadell-Newton this November is up against two other candidates for the 18th District. Democrat Kristin Boggs and Republican Whitney Smith.

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