Nurse practitioner enters race for congressional seat


Influenced by the high cost of health care, Jennifer Bell (D-Columbus) filed with the Federal Elections Commission in August to run in the March 2020 Democratic primary election for Ohio’s 12th Congressional District.

Bell is the second to announce her candidacy with The Delaware Gazette. Last month, Alaina Shearer (D-Liberty Township) announced her candidacy to run in the March primary for the Democratic nomination as well.

Ohio’s 12th Congressional District is currently represented by Troy Balderson (R-Zanesville), who was elected to his full-term Nov. 6, 2018, after finishing out former Rep. Pat Tiberi’s remaining term, which ended Dec. 31, 2018. Tiberi resigned from his congressional seat in January to accept a position as the new head of the Ohio Business Roundtable.

Bell, a nurse practitioner in Columbus, works in the field of community and mental health, specifically with people who are experiencing homelessness, substance use disorders, or mental health crises. She added her experience with the health care system influenced her decision to enter into the field of politics.

“If you ask any Ohioan, the costs of health insurance, doctor visits, and drug prices are always top concerns,” Bell said. “These are the things that affect the daily lives of Ohio families, and these are the things I intend to fix. I’ve seen it from the inside — the battle between giving quality, responsible care, and doing what the insurance companies and hospital systems deem profitable.

“It’s sick and disgraceful. There is a better way. We just need to be brave and make the change,” she added.

Bell, who works for a federally qualified health center, said no one is turned away from the center.

“The people on Medicaid or Medicare have better options than those with private insurance that have an out of pocket cost that they can’t afford, and if they get sick and spend weeks in the hospital, the cost is huge,” she said. “The ‘death panels’ are the insurance companies.”

Sarah Palin first coined the term “death panels” in an August 2009 Facebook post.

Bell said she believes by offering Medicare as an option, it will drive down prices and offer a greater variety of choices.

“An option to purchase a Medicare health plan will allow for more competition, driving down private insurance prices, and bringing the power of price negotiation back to the people,” she said. “Why isn’t anyone doing anything about this? Where are our leaders?”

Bell said, unlike most politicians, she is not taking any Political Action Committee (PAC) or special interest money for her campaign, only personal donations from individuals.

“At candidate training, it was all about raising money, more money, and even more money. Our politicians are bought and sold,” she said. “Campaign finance makes me sick to my stomach. This district can’t be won with money. It can only be won going door-to-door and talking to the people.”

Bell said she thinks people are finished voting straight down the ticket for the two big parties, the Republicans and Democrats.

“We have way more in common than we don’t,” she said about the two parties.

Bell, a native of Marion, said her hometown is like many former robust Ohio cities that are fighting to survive through the housing market fallout, the opioid epidemic, and the demise of the manufacturing industry. Bell said Ohioans have a lot to offer, and she is determined to bring forward-thinking, new manufacturing, technology, and jobs to the people of District 12.

“It’s a matter of embracing the future in order to be competitive in a global market of goods,” she said. “People talk of bringing back coal, but the people I’ve met who work in the mines say that most of the work is automated now. Bringing back coal is not going to bring back jobs, it will only make traditional energy moguls richer while adding more carbon pollution to the air we breathe.”

Bell said she has always fought for the underserved, stuck up for the kid bullied in the lunchroom, or fighting for workers who are being taxed to death with nothing to show for it. She said that she believes that anyone who earns under $100,000 should not pay income taxes to the federal government.

“The budget can be balanced by raising taxes in a tiered fashion for the very top earners,” she said. “For far too long, millionaires have used tax loopholes and political donations as a way to skirt their financial responsibilities to their community and their country.”

Bell added she believes there needs to be more nurses in Washington, D.C. and fewer businessmen.

“Let the healing begin,” she said.

Voters who have something to talk about or questions to ask can reach Bell by emailing [email protected].


By D. Anthony Botkin

[email protected]

Contact D. Anthony Botkin at 740-413-0902. Follow him on Twitter @dabotkin.

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