Beth Janes Neal
Ross County Commissioner
Committed to offering a fresh perspective and more progressive voice, former Chillicothe City Council member Beth Janes Neal believes she can amplify issues that most impact women, children and families in Ross County. First endorsed by The Matriots in 2019, she understands governing, policy and public service, and will leverage her experience by supporting people and programs that make a measurable difference throughout the county. Her familiarity with public budgets and financing – as well as in business – make her especially effective in the fight for state and federal dollars to complement the limited resources of a relatively small community with big needs. Beth sees post-COVID19 as crucial for the economically vulnerable and she is committed to working to provide opportunities for the women and families hardest hit by the pandemic.
Meet the Candidate
Can you tell our members a little bit about your journey to filing as a candidate? I was the Business Manager for my family’s 17 grocery stores for more than 20 years. Every day I would see families struggling to buy food, to afford decent housing, keep a car running, to find work that would provide a decent living, and to afford healthcare. I believe that part of the solution is in better management of resources and elected officials that have not only the skills needed to manage budgets in smarter ways but have the belief that their primary responsibility is to lift people up. I wanted to use my experience in business and passion for helping families to make our community stronger.
Can you tell me about a woman who has had a big influence on your life and inspired you to become a leader? What lessons did she teach you? When I first answered this question in 2019, my mother had just died. I have had a year to reflect and my memories of her are even clearer than they were then in that time of grief. Growing up in poverty with 10 brothers and sisters, she went to work at age 12, helped raise her younger siblings, and was valedictorian of her graduating class. She was the pillar of our family – hardworking, devoted, kind, and determined. She taught me that every person has their own strength, their own beauty, their own struggles. She taught me to take the time to really listen to people to understand them. Working in our first grocery store, mother really got to know the people in the neighborhood and was quick to offer help to anyone who had hit hard times. She made a real difference in people’s lives. That is the most valuable lesson that I keep with me. Being a good neighbor and helping others can make a real difference in people’s lives. I want to carry that lesson into my community service.
How did one of these experiences shape who you are as a person and a leader? As a small business owner, I know the value of planning. I know that that a dream is not all it takes to succeed. It takes hard work, preparation, and the ability to work with others towards a goal. I use the same skills as an officeholder that I do as a business owner. Building and leading teams, being personally dedicated and involved, and the willingness to make hard decisions based on facts,
The Matriots PAC has a bold goal to see 50% of all elected offices in Ohio held by women by 2028. What is your vision for Ohio in 2028? I would like to see a woman in the Governor’s seat! In addition to 50% of women holding office, I’d like to see their positions be in top offices. With 50% women in leadership positions, I see an Ohio that cares more about solving the issues that have plagued it for generations: like equitable funding for education, like more money appropriated for mental health issues, and less money going to big campaign donors’ issues and causes.
Tip O’Neill famously said that “all politics is local.” What are the top-two issues your community faces today? As I visit townships and talk to people throughout Ross County, I find that the main concern is access to safety services. Folks are worried about family members with health issues who must wait over an hour for EMT’s to respond to emergencies. Fire Departments are understaffed and largely voluntary. There are many stories of houses that are completely lost by the time the Fire Department arrives at the scene. Ross County is the second-largest county in Ohio covering 692.92 square miles. The Sheriff Department is not able to respond to calls in a timely manner in outlying areas. So, for residents of rural Ross County, the top two issues are better access to health services and safety services.
Tell us something personal about yourself. It can be a hobby, your favorite food, a funny pet story, something we might not know about you that you would like to share with our members. I love to garden and love to cook. One of my greatest pleasures is to create a really fabulous dish with food I’ve grown. Oh, and I make wine. I like to experiment with making different types of wine and I find my friends enjoy that hobby as much as I do!