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April 11, 2024

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Spring Housing Guide

Wicks looks to capture seat in Ohio General Assembly

Grounds For Thought Owner Kelly Wicks decided it was time to stir things up in Columbus by running for a seat in the Ohio House of Representatives.

“I decided it was time to step in and do something different in Columbus,” Wicks said. “If you follow politics, they have a way of thinking they speak for small business owners, but as one, I feel I’m being scapegoated for policies that affect big business, not small business.”

Wicks, the democratic candidate, is running against Republican and Wood County Commissioner Tim Brown and Nathan Eberly, the Libertarian candidate.

Wicks, 46, decided to run last November after he had the opportunity to travel to Columbus and oppose Senate Bill 5 through marches a few times earlier in the year.

Senate Bill 5 reduces collective bargaining rights for all public workers, according to a Nov. 2, 2011 article in The BG News.

“My sister is a nurse and my friend is a teacher who has been laid off because of budget cuts,” Wicks said.

The call-to-action Wicks felt along with the economic stability of Grounds For Thought, presented the opportunity for him to run for office.

Standing up for small business through effective policies, fighting for more funding for education and access to higher education are some of Wicks’s main platforms.

Wicks, who has been a Bowling Green resident since he was a 4-year-old as well as a University student, is familiar with the problems students face such as higher tuition costs and lower state funding.

“Students need a representative who understands what they deal with on a daily basis,” he said.

Understanding students is something Wicks is no stranger to.

“Working the counter for 20 years, he communicates with students every day and also employs them,” said Sam Melendez, Wicks’s campaign manager.

Grounds For Thought is a hangout and study spot for students, giving Wicks an ear for what students care about, said Mike Zickar, chair of the Wood County Democrats.

With a son nearing college, Wicks will go through the process of having to pay for tuition, which is what we want all politicians to go through, Zickar said.

As a small business owner, Wicks is very down to earth, personable and treats students with the same care as other voters, said Colleen Ryan, president of College Democrats.

From a student perspective, Ryan said Wicks is a good candidate because, as a former University student, he understands solutions to making college affordable.

As a University student in the mid 80s, Wicks said the University was subsidized by the government at 75 percent and now has dropped below 25 percent.

“I don’t feel that’s a wise investment,” he said. “We need to invest in young people: It’s a wise and cheap investment that will yield tremendous dividends in job creating and makes the community a better place.”

Making the community a better place also starts with being friendly to small business, Wicks said.

“Businesses look for strong schools, a good infrastructure and a vibrant downtown, which come from small business owners,” Wicks said.

While Wicks has no previous experience in politics, he is an invested member of the community.

Aside from running Grounds For Thought, Wicks is the cofounder and musical director of the Black Swamp Arts Festival and served as the president of the downtown business association while he has also help fund and start the downtown farmer’s market, renovate Radio Park and underwrite the University’s radio program.

Aside from his business and politics, music is also a passion of Wicks which led to his involvement in the Black Swamp and the radio program.

Wicks said he grew up with music from browsing in Finders Records, being a disc jockey at WBGU and arranging the performances at the festival. “It’s not just my involvement with music, but as a producer and promoter,” he said. “I get to listen to music and share new groups through Black Swamp and the shop itself is an outlet of creativity with the concerts it hosts.”

While Grounds For Thought hosts creative outlets for the community, Wicks said it also tries to give back through volunteer opportunities and donations.

Wicks’s family opened Grounds For Thought in 1989, getting the idea from encountering other small coffee shops at vacation spots throughout the years, he said.

Wicks later bought the business from his family with his wife Laura in 1991 and aimed to contribute to the community.

“We are fortunate to be successful and people have supported Grounds for a long time, but without their support, none of it would have been possible so we try to give back in as many ways as possible,” Wicks said.

Wicks’s business background may be his strong point.

“He knows what it takes, not in just the political sense, which gives him the best sense of compass,” Zickar said. “He’s a fresh face in politics and knows what it means to navigate legislation, pay the bills and motivate people.”

Wicks’s managerial skills may also come in handy when dealing with a bipartisan House.

“As a small business owner, success comes from getting different people to work together and that’s a skill I have,” he said. “Columbus needs fresh ideas and I’ll be able to do that as a business owner, not just a politician,” he said.

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