Ohio House signs aid ambition

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) – Adam Headlee loves his political memories. Already at the age of 25, the legislative assistant filled his office in the Ohio capital with collectable conversation pieces: campaign buttons, historical photographs, an exhibit of founding father figurines.

So when Headlee learned that the State Chamber of Commerce had produced a collectible card game featuring the names and faces of every sitting state legislator, his collector instinct was awakened.

“After asking a few members I knew well to sign their cards, I thought, I wonder how many could I get? ” he said. “Can I have 10?” Could I have 20? Could I have 30? “

In the end, Headlee landed the John Hancocks of the 99 Members of Ohio House. He was pleasantly surprised that lawmakers from both parties had played the game and seemed to be enjoying it.

“As silly as it sounds, there’s a very subtle lesson in unity underlying all of this, because everyone thought their collectible card was cool,” he said. “At first I thought, statistically speaking, that at least one of the 99 is going to tell me to go book salt and not sign their card. But, the closer I got, everyone was a good sport about it.

Headlee made some rules for himself as he pursued the signings. In particular, it would not interrupt legislators while they were conducting official business in committee or in the House.

He noticed that he had met several of the same lawmakers on multiple occasions in the beginning, because they shared something – party, geography, political interest – with his boss, State Representative Adam Bird, a Republican from the village. from New Richmond.

Headlee collected his first 60 signatures quite easily. He would catch people in the hallways or in the streets around Columbus’ Capitol Square. Many representatives did not even know the cards existed.

“There were several members who I think didn’t realize they had a baseball card made from them,” he said. “I always liked seeing the smile on a member’s face when I could explain where they were from.”

The Ohio chamber produces the cards once a decade and distributes them at its annual policy conference, spokeswoman Courtney Whetstone said.

Participants in September were given an elastic deck of about 20 cards when they arrived and then more cards when they attended other events, she said.

“They were randomized and some packs were held for the second day, so you had to be there on both days to get them all,” she said. “They were really being traded aggressively.”

Headlee pulled a rope with a friend to get a full deck, he said, which also includes cards for all 33 Ohio Senators, one for Republican Gov. Mike DeWine, and a bunch of cards showing the current members as they were in 2001.

He got into the habit of carrying his cards everywhere, tucked away in his jacket pocket with an official Maison signature pen. He thought it was a good idea, but the pens sometimes smudged the shiny card stock.

Statehouse Grounds: Use a Sharpie. Smith had been signing collectible cards for fans for years, as a veteran announcer for the Burning River and Chicago Outfit roller derby leagues. The permanent marker, he told Headlee, was the way to go.

A lawmaker, a Democrat, asked to sign in blue. Some have dated their cards. A legislator, a minister, added a “God bless you”. Another, hoping to baffle historians, scribbled “Drink more scotch.” Representative Latyna Humphrey, a new Democrat from Columbus, luckily signed her district’s blank card, just above the “To be determined.”

As Headlee’s stack of unsigned cards dwindled, help had to be more deliberate. He asked mutual acquaintances for key presentations, ranked members after committee hearings, or called their offices for appointments.

Finally, on the Thursday before lawmakers’ break for the holidays, Headlee got his 99th signing. It was Democratic House leader Emilia Sykes, whose frenzied agenda over the past two months had included a role in the much-publicized and time-driven redistribution process.

“She is obviously very busy,” he said. “I thought maybe it was a bridge too far, I might not get the chance.”

But a member who had already signed his own card informed Sykes about Headlee’s plan and arranged their meeting.

As she signed with a gracious smile, Headlee said it bolstered her hopes for the future of politics in these difficult days. “That someone cared enough about my little project to do this, I was very grateful.”

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