FREMONT - The woman who in 2016 accused President Donald Trump of kissing her is running for the Ohio House of Representatives 88th District in hopes to bring a fresh voice to politics.
Rachel Crooks, a Green Springs woman now living in Tiffin, will challenge Bill Reineke for the 88th district that covers Sandusky County and most of Seneca County in the November general election.
Crooks filed her paperwork, including signatures Monday at the Sandusky County Board of Elections.
In 2005, while working as a receptionist for real estate firm in Trump Tower in New York at age 22, Crooks said Trump began kissing her on the cheeks and then "kissed me directly on the mouth," Crooks said.
"I spoke out when I saw the story The (New York) Times did on Temple Taggart, and I told let I was here as backup," Crooks said. "Then in October (2016), they released the Access Hollywood tape and Trump was boasting about this behavior but was denying it, and I said I need to stand up for what is right so I said I'd be vocal about it."
After telling story, Crooks said she was sad when Trump became president, thinking no one listened to her story, or cared.
"It was depressing, to know someone who denigrates women would be voted in over a highly qualified woman, which just added insult to injury," Crooks said.
Last fall, when the #MeToo movement began to gain traction, Crooks said she got involved again, telling her story about her alleged encounter with Trump.
"I did become vocal again, because you did see all these powerful men brought down, but not Trump, so I wanted to point out the hypocrisy and how that is a failing of politics," Crooks said. "So I feel like I've been personally slighted by politicians."
A 2001 Clyde High School graduate, Crooks said she comes from a middle-class family, and said she is running because of a disconnect between politicians and the people they serve.
"I feel like the average person's voice has been lost in politics," Crooks said. "I think a lot of people agree that politicians like to talk, but say very little, and I think they do very little for us."
Though she is running for office for the first time, Crooks said she always had an interest in politics, and believed her work in higher education with international students could have led her to a job in international diplomacy, but said she had not thought about running for elected office.
"Sometimes the stars align, and you are called on to take on a responsibility that maybe you hadn't considered," Crooks said.
Crooks said a number of issues in the 88th district have been neglected, including education.
"I've worked in higher education for most of my career and I see a lot of issues with college affordability," Crooks said.
A Tiffin University graduate, Crooks works at Heidelberg University in Tiffin in their international college recruitment department.
"We so far behind in college affordability in the U.S. and we have two universities (Tiffin and Heidelberg) and a community college (Terra State Community College) and we are behind in college attainment, too, so there seems to be a disconnect."
Sandusky County Democratic Party Chairman Chris Liebold said Crooks brings fresh ideas to politics, and said she can help work on behalf of the residents of the state and Sandusky County to restore funds given to municipalities that were cut and absorbed into Columbus.
Liebold said Crooks brings a blue-collar work ethic to politics.
"Her dad was a mechanic, and her mom's a nurse, and she lives and breathes this district," Liebold said. "She had an upbringing that many in the district have and she can bring something that is really missing from the statehouse."
Crooks said she wants to be the politician that works on the citizen's behalf and grow income equality for women.
"I hate that it feels like politicians are more holier than thou. I want to upset the apple-cart, and provide a different view of politicians, and work on behalf of the people," Crooks said.