Allison Russo in Athens

Athens NEWS photo by Cole Behrens

Russo wins special primary

Allison Russo, D-Upper Arlington, won Tuesday’s special primary for nominees for Ohio’s 15th Congressional District representative. The seat has been empty since May, when former Rep. Steve Stivers resigned to lead the Ohio Chamber of Commerce. At press time, Mike Carey was leading the 11 Republicans seeking the GOP nomination. The general election will be held Tuesday, Nov. 2. Get all Tuesday voting results at

Allison Russo, D-Upper Arlington, visited Athens Sunday as part of a get-out-the-vote campaign for the Aug. 3 primary in Ohio's 15th Congressional District.

Russo is one of two Democrats seeking the party's nomination to fill the seat vacated in May when former Rep. Steve Stivers resigned to lead the Ohio Chamber of Commerce. She appeared on the steps of the Athens County Courthouse with local leaders, who have endorsed her over competitor Greg Betts, a retired U.S. Army colonel from Youngstown.

“I feel very good that they feel I am going to be a very strong advocate for this community and for the needs of this community going to Washington,” Russo said.

With only days left in the primary race, Russo said she came to Athens to remind residents that Athens County is an important part of the 15th District, which includes all of Clinton, Madison, Pickaway, Fairfield, Morgan, Perry, Hocking and Vinton counties; most of Athens County; the northern half of Ross County; and an irregular section of Franklin County that includes Upper Arlington and Hilliard.

“I think every corner of the district deserves good representation in Washington, and I plan to be a voice for what are the tremendous and unique needs of this region,” Russo said.

She said she believes all of the OH-15 District deserves quality representation and she wants to see opportunities expand for children and families in southeast Ohio.

Nelsonville City Auditor Taylor Sappington said he first met Russo while he was campaigning to represent the 94th Ohio House district in 2018.

“Her name, experience, and presence stuck with me,” Sappington said. “And as soon as she said she was running, I was like, ‘I’m in.’”

Sappington said Russo would be the perfect candidate to take on radicalism, corruption and deliver on promises in Congress.

Athens City Mayor Steve Patterson had thought about entering the Aug. 3 primary race, but endorsed Russo after announcing he was no longer considering pursuing the 15th District seat. He said Russo’s messaging and rural background resonated with him and he believes Russo would be a perfect fit for the congressional role.

According to her website. Russo was raised by a single mother in a small town in Mississippi and later settled in the Columbus suburbs with her husband to raise their three children.

“I think she has the skill set to represent the full 15,” Patterson said. “I’m talking about the portions of the district that often get forgotten about.”

Russo's visit seemed to impress Democratic voter Steve Grimes, who said he planned to vote for her after meeting her. Grimes said he was convinced by her stance and background with healthcare amid the coronavirus pandemic and emergence of the delta variant.

“She seems very knowledgeable, I’ll probably go ahead and vote for her,” Grimes said.

Russo, a healthcare consultant, holds a bachelor's degree in microbiology and advanced degrees in public health.

While Russo and Betts were the only candidates for the Demcratic nomination, nearly a dozen Republicans were listed on the primary ballot. They included Mike Carey, who was endorsed by former President Donald Trump; Jeff LaRe, who was endorsed by Stivers; and State Sen. Bob Peterson, R-Washington Court House.

The special election primary date took place Tuesday, Aug. 3. The general election will be held Tuesday, Nov. 2.

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