Meet the Candidate
Dr. Vanessa Enoch
The following Q&A is from Ballotpedia's Candidate Connections survey with candidate for the the U.S. House of Representatives, Vanessa Enoch.
Who are you? Tell us about yourself.
Enoch is an experienced senior level business, technology, and higher education professional, with over 16 years of corporate operations experience. She has had a very diverse career, working as a Chemical Dependency Counselor, a Paralegal Supervisor with the US Small Business Administration, and as a Business Analyst with General Electric. She has also held positions overseeing Software Implementations as a Senior Project Manager in the Insurance Industry. She also spent several years overseeing multiple college departments, serving as a Department Chair/ Dean of Students (including business and accounting departments). She is the owner of a business and policy consulting company and previously owned a construction company. Enoch currently oversees the development of two trauma centers to treat children and communities for PTSD in Cincinnati, OH.
Dr. Enoch is a Public Policy & Social Change expert, and a trained community organizer, who is passionate about Social Justice and Human Rights causes. She has led local efforts to drive change in the criminal justice system, including reform of the jury process and the juvenile justice system. Dr. Enoch worked alongside State Senators Thomas and two State Court Judges on judicial reform efforts. She has advocated for the working poor, for childcare benefits, and much of her work has involved dismantling the school-to-prison pipeline and issues facing children within the juvenile justice system.
Please list below 3 key messages of your campaign. What are the main points you want voters to remember about your goals for your time in office?
What areas of public policy are you personally passionate about?
The top three areas of public policy I'm passionate about are:
1) Economic Development- Which includes supporting small business growth and development, stabilizing markets for domestic family farmers (i.e. saving our safety net that feeds the nation's most needy populations, opening new markets such as hemp and medicinal marijuana), promoting fair pay and new industry and development in rural areas.
2) Providing Affordable Healthcare: I support a public Medicare option that leaves private insurance intact.
3) Saving Social Security, which includes ending mass incarceration (which takes millions of non-violent offenders out of the job market, who could be earning wages and paying into the social security system) and fixing the immigration system to encourage new tax revenue.
Who do you look up to? Whose example would you like to follow, and why?
I look up to Nelson Mandela. Mandela was unjustly incarcerated for 27 years, and upon release he held no bitterness and no malice. His gentle and kind heart, good character and charisma allowed him to become the head of state in South Africa. I have also always respected Joseph in the Bible, who was thrown into prison and who eventually became the ruler of Egypt. I believe that these men are the perfect representation of the most important lesson in the Bible, that is the lesson of forgiveness.
Oftentimes, people do things out of ignorance, and sometimes even out of malice. God calls upon us to forgive one another, because we all sin and fall short of the glory of God. We want to be forgiven for the sins we commit against our fellow man, so the Bible reminds us to forgive that we may be forgiven. As a Christian, I use the Bible as my guidebook. I do, however, believe in the separation of church and state, so I don't expect everyone to share my religious convictions, but forgiving someone is an act of goodwill that anyone can exercise, regardless of our religious or moral convictions or varying beliefs.
What qualities do you possess that you believe would make you a successful officeholder?
I believe that my experiences as a small business owner and education background in the areas of business and public policy has equipped me with a good understanding of how to craft policy. I think more than either of those is my passion for people and my ability to work across the aisle with people of various backgrounds will make me a great officeholder. I am a natural leader and naturally get along with all kinds of people. I have an intrinsic desire to seek justice and fairness for all people. I think this aspect of my character is what we need in office to balance the power and the stronghold that has been in existence for a very long time in DC.
What do you believe are the core responsibilities for someone elected to this office?
I believe the core responsibilities for someone elected to the office of Representative is to advocate for policies that are in the best interest of the constituents in her district. The second core responsibility is to be a checks and balance to the executive branch of government.
What legacy would you like to leave?
I want my legacy to be that I passed legislation to build light rail across Ohio, that paved the way to economic development across Ohio. I would also like to leave a legacy of having introduced and passed legislation to end mass incarceration and to bring an end to the school to prison pipeline. I also want to leave a legacy of creating a method for engaging citizens in the process of governing effectively.
What is the first historical event that happened in your lifetime that you remember? How old were you at the time?
The first historical event that happened in my lifetime that I remember was a very personal event. It was when I was a first grader and President Jimmy Carter visited our school. I got to shake the Presidents hand. It was a moment I never forgot, even at the tender age of 6 years old.
What was your very first job? How long did you have it?
My very first job was with McDonald's. I started working there when I was 16 years old. I worked there for nearly a year, before I was recruited by a customer who was a Manager at Thom McAn Shoestore. The Manager thought I had excellent customer service skills and asked me to come and work for them. They paid me much more money and offered me more desirable hours, so it was an opportunity I couldn't resist.
What is your favorite book? Why?
My favorite book is Where Do We Go From Here, by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
As a Kingian Scholar, I found a love for books written by Dr. King. His work is a demonstration of how far we've come and a reminder of how far we have yet to go.
I also enjoy reading fiction, but it seems I never get time to read much for leisure. I recently enjoyed a book called The Storm by my Aunt Marian Gardner. I was also privileged with writing the forward for her book. I enjoyed the way she was able to weave so many relevant topics into her work of fiction. I also enjoyed the creative way she introduced her faith in her story.
If you could be any fictional character, who would you want to be?
I would be Superman. I really like his concern for making the world right and how he balanced that with his career as a journalist and his romantic love for Lois Lane. I am happy to be the woman version of Superman, but Superwoman is not as appealing as a superhero as superman.
What was the last song that got stuck in your head?
"If it had not been for the Lord on our side, tell me where would I be"
What is something that has been a struggle in your life?
My greatest struggle in life has been single parenting my daughters after the loss of my husband. Parenting should be a two person job. Financially, it is a significant strain on one person. It is even more difficult to put two children through college as a single mother. My children were very active, which made it even more difficult for me. I remember the years that I was juggling their volleyball, basketball, soccer games and track meets. It was especially difficult because I often had to work several jobs to make ends meet in order to maintain the standard of living that they had grown accustomed to. I was running my consulting business and I was fortunate to be able to find online teaching jobs that enabled me to teach an hour per day a few days per week and I could grade papers when it was convenient for me. Before my husband died, I went back to school for my doctorate degree. My program required at least 20 hours of study per week, so at one point I was writing papers on the sidelines at sporting events and beachside on family vacations. I continued my studies after he died, and it was even more difficult to juggle my parenting duties, a doctoral program, my business and work life. My children are both adults now. One is pursuing her undergraduate degree, the other is gainfully employed full-time at a technology company in Silicon Valley.
What qualities does the U.S. House of Representatives possess that makes it unique as an institution?
The qualities that make the US House of Representatives a unique is the role of representing the people of the district. This entity should be a voice for the people. In recent years, the body seems to have lost it's way as a voice for the people and has become a voice for which ever corporate or special interest can provide the most money in campaign funds. We need to restore our government back to the people.
Do you believe that it's beneficial for representatives to have previous experience in government or politics?
I believe it is beneficial to have previous experience or at the very least an understanding of government and politics. I also believe that Congress should be made up of people from various backgrounds. Diverse groups tend to foster the most creative ideas.
What do you perceive to be the United States’ greatest challenges as a nation over the next decade?
I believe the biggest issue that we face as a nation is corruption in government. At the core of the problem is the fact that the rigged system is at the foundation of our governing structures. As long as money and partisan politics are allowed to prevail, we can expect to lose our standing as a world power at some point in the future. So far, our power base has been based on our economic power. We are quickly losing that edge as innovators and creators of the future and the greater percentage of our populace are not being prepared to live in the world as it will be in the future.
We also have classism and racial problems that plague our national identity and will play an important part in our survival as a nation. We must come to respect all Americans regardless of their economic standing or their background. Respecting difference will ensure that we protect the national interest of our country by equipping the best and the brightest to carry the torch for the next generation.
Finally, we face a future that we aren't prepared for. We are lacking in both skills for jobs of the future, and we have thus far failed to put any meaningful effort behind preparing for that future. We face a world with limited resources, such as water, oil, and many of the minerals that we need to sustain our current way of life. We need to open new markets for trade with African countries and those with untapped resources. We also need to redevelop our infrastructure to prepare for global warming and the need to move populations to higher ground, as our coastal cities are eroding and will soon be uninhabitable.
If you are not a current representative, are there certain committees that you would want to be a part of?
I would be proud to serve on any committee that would benefit the 8th Congressional District. I think the following committees would best serve the interests of our district:
- Education and Labor
- Financial Services
- Foreign Affairs
- Judiciary Oversight and Government Reform
- Science, Space, and Technology
- Small Business
- Transportation and Infrastructure
- Veterans' Affairs
- Ways and Means
If you are a current representative, why did you join your current committees?
Do you believe that two years is the right term length for representatives?
No, I believe that a more appropriate term is 4 years. This would allow a Representative to demonstrate that they can be effective in the role.
What are your thoughts on term limits?
I believe term limits can be a good thing. I would support 8 year term limits.
If you are not currently a member of your party’s leadership in the U.S. House of Representatives, would you be interested in joining the leadership? If so, in what role?
I would not be interested in holding a leadership role this year, however perhaps after serving a couple of years I would be more inclined to feel qualified to lead.
Is there a particular representative, past or present, whom you want to model yourself after?
No, I have no interest in cloning myself after anyone. I pride myself on being unique and offering all that I am to the role of representative.
Both sitting representatives and candidates for office hear many personal stories from the residents of their district. Is there a story that you’ve heard that you found particularly touching, memorable, or impactful?
The stories that touch my heart the most are the cancer stories and the stories that parents tell me about the loss of their children. The most disheartening stories are the tragedies that could have been preventable. In 2018, a mother in Middletown told me the story of her son had died of an opioid addiction, and the story of a father that lost his daughter to opioid addiction two days before Easter and then a son two days before Christmas the same year.