By Emily Lytle
Sophomore Joe Gerig said he is voting in the mid-term elections because he wants a stake in how Congress works and makes decisions. Gerig, a marketing major and executive board member of AU’s chapter of Young Americans for Liberty, has requested his absentee ballot for Ohio’s 15th district.
For Gerig, fiscal responsibility is one of the biggest issues that he said is facing the country right now.
“I think our government is spending our way to the poorhouse, and that’s extremely concerning, especially as 19-year-old who’s about to go out into the workforce,” he said.
He recalled learning about the omnibus spending bill that Congress passed in March. Given only 24 hours to read the over 2,000 pages of the bill, Congress swiftly passed it to avoid a government shutdown. Gerig said he thought that Congress didn’t take enough time to understand the specifics before passing the bill.
“There’s no way that members of Congress could have read it,” Gerig said. “That just really fired me up, especially with the GOP preaching fiscal conservatism but then not actually following through on it. That infuriated me.”
As a Capitol Hill intern for Representative Steve Stivers last semester, Gerig researched an issue that affects many communities near where he lives in Athens, Ohio: rural internet inequities.
Bureaucratic red tape and the sheer expense of installing broadband internet service has left much of southeastern Ohio behind in technology and innovation, he said. Gerig said his research showed that many rural areas and small towns in Ohio struggle to get permits to install broadband infrastructure due to multi-step bureaucratic processes.
“I grew up there,” Gerig said of small-town Ohio. “It’s a place I know has a lot of potential to succeed but doesn’t necessarily have the tools or the capacity to do that.”
In addition to disparities in internet access, Gerig said that strict immigration policies keep the nation from making progress. “Immigrants generally contribute to our economy,” he said. “They obviously just want to make better lives for themselves in the land of opportunity like the U.S. is supposed to be.”
Gerig said he favors open borders and basic security screenings for immigrants. “The minute a candidate starts taking hard stances on immigration, especially when they’re clearly trying to appeal to certain voting blocks, that’s a huge turn off for me and I consider not voting for them,” he said.