Ohio Senate / Ohio House
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Russ Harris, Ohio State House District 23
Russ Harris is a father, an educator, and a lifelong advocate for Ohio’s children, families, and teachers.
His life has been dedicated to improving the opportunities for young people to get a great education. At Syracuse University, he was a Ford Foundation Fellow in Economics, focusing on human resources and public finance.
His first job after college was as the Director of School Subsides for the state of Pennsylvania. There, he learned that we have to give our teachers the tools they need because they are our frontline in the classroom for our students.
In Ohio, he used his experience in school funding to work with state lawmakers on the Education Review Committee and the Ohio Blue Ribbon Commission on School Funding to address the inequities in the school system.
He is in the classroom to this day. He is the former director of Economic Education at Ashland University and currently teaches economics at Franklin University.
Casey Weinstein, Ohio State House District 37
Casey’s family is his rock and foundation. He wants to raise his daughters to reach their maximum potential, and to give them every opportunity to achieve their dreams. The U.S. Air Force brought Casey and his wife, Amanda, to Ohio, and it was an easy choice for them to stay and make a life there.
In Casey’s family, public service is a way of life. His grandfather, father, brother, brother-in-law, and wife all served or are serving in the armed forces. He has always strived to actively engage in his community. In Dayton, he was recognized as a ‘Top 40 Under 40’ Community Leader. In 2015 he was elected to serve on the Hudson City Council, where he works every day to make a positive impact for his constituents.
Casey recognizes that the only way to make real change is through collaboration. He has a bipartisan record of achievement on the Hudson City Council, where he has focused on economic development, broadband expansion, and partnering with private groups to enhance city parks.
With over a decade of experience as a leader and top performer in the information technology industry, Casey’s business acumen and perspective is exactly what Ohio needs to attract good-paying 21st century jobs.
Joe Helle, Ohio State House District 89
Joe is a U.S. Army Veteran, having served as an Airborne Infantry Sergeant from 2004 until 2011. Joe deployed to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom during the Surge between 2006 and 2007, and again in Afghanistan in 2009 as a Section Sergeant. While in Afghanistan, Joe was responsible for a Personal Security Detachment (think Secret Service), which provided secure travel through the battlefield for the Battalion Commander and other VIP's.
Joe is the father of two incredibly beautiful daughters, Autumn and Natalie. As a single father, Joe understands the challenges and rigors that other single parents face each day with balancing work, education, and childcare. Joe will make it a goal to work to see things like our tax code changed, which favors those married over those who are not, placing an unnecessary burden on those with children who are unmarried or widowed.
Joe was elected as the 31st Mayor of Oak Harbor in 2015 after defeating the incumbent. Joe identified a problem with the local government that many communities struggle with: communication. There was little communication with the residents of Oak Harbor, and he made it his goal if elected to change that. Since becoming Mayor, communication has increased drastically with the community, along with bringing legitimacy and respect back to the office.
Joe previously served with the Veteran Disaster Relief organization TEAM RUBICON, where he served for two years, eventually holding the position of Regional Membership Manager. Joe oversaw approximately 2,300 Veteran Volunteers across six states, facilitating their deployment to domestic disasters across the country.
Jessica Miranda, Ohio State House District 28
Jessica E. Miranda has a passion for education and sense of community for Ohio’s 28th House District. Jessica is a loving wife, and proud mother of 3 daughters including her newest addition Victoria, who was born in 2016. Jessica serves as the President of the Winton Woods City School Board, and Jessica is a small business owner providing insurance and tax services to middle and working class families. She is currently a sitting Board Member for the Latino Coalition of Southwest Ohio, and a Board member of the Forest Park Chamber of Commerce.
As a small business owner, Jessica was the 2014 recipient of the Forest Park Business Recognition award for her exemplary community service through the Annual Fiesta Holiday Toy Drive.
She is a National Franchise Owner and has over 10 years of financial services experience and is the CEO of Uno Tax, LLC d/b/a Fiesta Auto Insurance & Tax Service. She is a Licensed Property & Casualty Insurance Broker and holds numerous IRS certifications.
Jessica is a proud product of public schools and her children attend the Winton Woods City School District. She graduated from Talawanda High School and was born and raised in Ohio. Jessica and her husband, Jose, are homeowners and committed entrepreneurs in the City of Forest Park dedicated to building a family legacy for their children.
Mary Lightbody, Ohio State House District 19
Mary Lightbody has an undergraduate degree from Harvard and a doctorate in science education from Ohio State. For the last 25 years she has been in K-12 and university classrooms in central Ohio teaching science and the gifted in the Columbus, Hilliard, and Westerville schools. For the last 12 years, she has taught future teachers at Otterbein and Ohio State Newark how to teach science to their students in Ohio schools.
She started out as a country girl, growing up in Pepper Pike, east of Cleveland, when there were fewer houses and far more open land than are there now, and graduated from Orange High School. She married a guy from Tiffin, Ohio whom she met at college. While her husband, Rick, was enrolled in a PhD program in environmental engineering at MIT he learned during a routine physical that his kidneys were failing, and that he would be on dialysis within the next 18 months.
They addressed the issue by arranging to do Rick’s hemodialysis treatments at home, which meant their three children grew up with their father hooked to a dialysis machine in the family room three nights a week. Rick eventually got a kidney transplant, but after 16 years his immune system was no longer able to defend him from infections, and after a serious but brief illness and hospitalization in the fall of 2009 he came home, and died a few days later in his sleep.
Mary continues to teach full time at Ohio State Newark, but she has taken on new roles as a member of the Westerville Public Library Board of Trustees, as a deacon at First Congregational church in Columbus, and now as a candidate for the Ohio House of Representatives.
Beth Liston, Ohio State House District 21
When Beth Liston was about to enter 4th grade, her father (an engineer) was transferred to head the construction of the AEP headquarters. She, along with her younger sister Lori, enrolled in Brookside Elementary School. Her sister Christy was born in 1986 as her mother completed her PhD in Education. She and her sisters graduated from Worthington Schools.
Beth met her husband, Denver, in high school; they started dating after she began her combined MD and PhD program at the Ohio State University in 1996. They were married in 1999.
After graduating with an MD and PhD, they moved to the Northeast for her training in Internal Medicine and Pediatrics at Yale in New Haven, Connecticut. Their daughter was born at the beginning of the second year of her residency. Their son was born at the end of her training. Beth was offered a position as a faculty member at the Ohio State University and she was thrilled.
Beth has been a doctor in Columbus for over a decade, caring for children and adults who are sick and hospitalized. She is grateful for the trust her patients have given her to be a part of their lives during such vulnerable moments.
As a university professor, she teaches students to reason using an evidence-based approach to address complex issues and solve complicated problems.
Over the course of her career, Beth has provided care on multiple international medical mission trips and holds leadership positions in several organizations to affect policy. After years of being a doctor and a professor, she became a consultant for the Ohio Department of Medicaid to bring a voice of experience and medical knowledge to state government.
Dan Foley, Ohio House District 43
Dan Foley is a father, an Ohioan, and a leader with a record of accomplishment. He is a lifelong resident of the Miami Valley and a graduate of Chaminade-Julienne High School, Bowling Green State University, and Wright State University.
He has been married for 25 years to Kathleen, a Pre-School Intervention Specialist for Springfield schools, and he is a father to two daughters, Margaret and Ellen.
He served as Montgomery County Clerk of Courts from 2000 to 2006 and Montgomery County Commissioner from 2007 to 2018.
Dan has helped diversify Montgomery County’s economy by helping to bring over $250 million in investment in logistics, manufacturing, and international development. He’s helped improve community safety by developing JusticeWeb, a database used by over 4,500 law enforcement professionals in Montgomery, Preble, and 10 other southwest Ohio counties. He’s also fighting the Opioid Crisis as Co-Chair of the Community Overdose Action Team (COAT) - an umbrella for over 100 organizations that has significantly reduced opioid abuse in Montgomery County.
Taylor Sappington, Ohio House District 94
Taylor Sappington was born to parents Amy and Tom who both were strong members of AFSCME. He grew up with his younger brother Spencer. Coming to Nelsonville in 2002, they learned how to work hard, think for themselves, and to never give up. His mother walked into work one day and received what every workers dreads: the pink slip. The company was downsizing and the welfare of his family was thrown into deep uncertainty.
During elementary and middle school, he remembers feeling that the pressure was building. Late notices came in the mail, they stopped eating out, they didn't shop. Eventually, the lifeline for any Appalachian family was taken: the car. He even remembers the electricity being shut off. Despite the rapid dip into hardship, his mom worked harder than any person he knows to keep their lives as normal as possible. She worked on her education, she came back one day crying because they were only offered a few bucks in SNAP benefits a month, and she made every single dollar that came into the family stretch ten times farther than before.
Taylor and his brother graduated high school, his mom graduated from Hocking College, and he walked across the stage at Ohio University. His mom now has her first home and Spencer proudly works in corrections for the State of Ohio.
While on Nelsonville City Council, Taylor wrote and passed the city's first and only balanced budget requirement. It forces city councils to pass budgets that are responsible with the citizens' money. Through hard work from the employees and city leadership, 2017 was the first year in a decade that the city's bank account held steady instead of dropping further into crisis. During his time, they have also instituted their town's first curbside recycling and turned around a struggling city pool to guarantee it many more years.
Phil Robinson, Ohio State House District 6
Born and raised in Northeast Ohio, Phil saw firsthand how sacrifice, dedication, and perseverance makes it possible to live the American dream. Like many other African-Americans, his parents’ families migrated from the South to the North for opportunities; they stayed for the community. Phil learned the values of family, hard work, and service from his parents who worked overtime and nights to move their family from the inner city of Cleveland to Bedford Heights. Phil watched his parents sacrifice to give him and his sister a chance at a quality education and a better way of life.
After graduating from Gilmour Academy – and with the help of an academic scholarship, work-study programs, and summer jobs – Phil earned his undergraduate degree in finance from The George Washington University in Washington, D.C.
Like many of his classmates, he was deeply affected by the tragic events of September 11, 2001. Rather than seeking a job on Wall Street after graduation, Phil instead chose to serve as a congressional legislative aide for U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif).
Eventually, Phil and his wife decided to move back home to Northeast Ohio. In between demanding work as a marketing consultant to both small and Fortune 500 businesses, Phil found time to tutor middle school students on his lunch hour. He was so inspired by their stories that he left a successful career in the private sector to pay it forward in the nonprofit community; at the same time earning his Executive Master of Business Administration degree from the Case Western Reserve University Weatherhead School of Management.
Phil then joined City Year Cleveland, an education nonprofit that partners with public schools to help keep students in school and on track to graduate, as its executive director. He led the organization out of debt, doubled its budget, and expanded services to help more students graduate from high school. Under Phil’s leadership, City Year has doubled its revenue, grown its operations by 20 percent, and one Cleveland school increased its graduation rate from 39% to 73% in five short years.
Today, Phil is using his business expertise and MBA to serve as the Senior Vice President for Regional and Site Operations for City Year, Inc. He is responsible for all aspects of operations for 28 U.S. sites, including five regional vice presidents, nearly 700 site staff, 3,000 AmeriCorps members, and a total revenue budget of $138 million. Like the students he serves, he ensures that all City Year sites meet their goals and positions them for long-term success.
A devoted husband and father of two, Phil is active in the community and the Cuyahoga County Democratic Party. Currently, he serves on the boards of Gilmour Academy, United Black Fund Foundation, and Teach for America – Greater Cleveland.
Phil has received numerous awards and honors including Crain’s Cleveland Business 2015 Forty Under 40, Pahara NextGen Leader (a program of the Aspen Institute), Crain’s Cleveland Business “Who to Watch in Education,” Leadership Cleveland Class of 2013, Top 25 Under 35 Movers and Shakers by Inside Business Magazine, and The George Washington University Hall of Fame in 2001.
Allison Russo, Ohio State House District 24
Allison Russo is running to bring a practical approach and evidence-based solutions to the critical issues facing Ohio. Allison will fight to adequately fund Ohio’s public schools, support economic strategies that sustain working families and vibrant communities, and prioritize innovative solutions in healthcare that increase access and make it affordable for all Ohioans.
A public health policy expert, Allison has spent nearly two decades advising government leaders and policymakers on issues related to the healthcare financing and care delivery needs of seniors, vulnerable populations, Veterans, and military families. She is currently the Policy Research Director for a public policy consulting firm, where as a member of her company’s leadership team, she leads business development efforts and strategy for this Federally-qualified small business.
Allison is a passionate advocate for women and families. She currently serves on the Women’s Leadership Council of the United Way of Central Ohio, is the creator of the Girls Who Lead after-school program, and is an advocate and guest writer for the Ohio Women’s Public Policy Network. She regularly writes about the impact of federal and state policy on the health and economic security of Ohio’s families and communities.
As a Veteran’s wife and former military spouse, Allison is deeply committed to public service. She is a member of the Upper Arlington Rotary Club, a member of Leadership Upper Arlington, and an active volunteer in her children’s local public schools and youth sports leagues.
In presidential contests, Ohio is a true purple state. George W. Bush won the state twice, Barack Obama won the state twice, and Donald Trump won in 2016. But on the state level, Ohio has been a Republican trifecta, with Republicans controlling the Governorship and both houses of the state legislature, for most of the last three decades.
Republicans have controlled the Ohio State Senate since 1992, and they currently have a 24 to 9 majority. Since 1992, Republicans have controlled the State House for all but 5 years, and they currently have a 65 to 33 majority (with one vacancy). These large majorities have given Republicans substantial power to push an ultra-conservative agenda in the Buckeye State.
To take back the majority, Democrats need to pick up 8 seats in the State Senate, and 17 seats in the State House. This year, they can start building back in both chambers, with half the Senate and all of the House up this year.
EveryDistrict’s Legislative District Index (LDI) ranks state legislative districts on a scale from 100 to -100, using statewide elections data. Districts with a score of 100 would vote for statewide Democratic candidates by 100 points (with the Democratic candidate receiving 100% of the vote); districts with a score of -100 would vote for statewide Republican candidates by 100 points (with the Republican candidate receiving 100% of the vote).
EveryDistrict divides winnable districts into three categories: Tier I, Tier II, and Tier III. Tier I districts lean Democratic but are held by a Republican state legislator. Tier II districts lean slightly Republican, with a range of 0 up to -5. Tier III districts lean slightly more Republican, with a range of -5 up to -10. For more information about EveryDistrict’s LDI, please click here.
Only the odd-numbered State Senate districts are on the ballot in 2018. In total, there are four districts that lean Democratic (Tier I), and three of them are on the ballot this year: Senate Districts 3, 5, and 13. Then, there are another 2 seats that lean slightly Republican: Senate District 19 (Tier II) and Senate District 29 (Tier III).
Senate District 5 is based in parts of Dayton, and District 13 is centered on Lorain and Elyria, two Northeastern Ohio communities west of Cleveland. District 19 snakes from the northern portion of Columbus into more northern, rural areas while District 29 centers on Canton, just south of Akron.
In the State House, there are six seats that lean Democratic (Tier I): House Districts 16, 19, 21, 24, 28, and 55. There are another ten that lean slightly Republican. In the Tier II category are House Districts 3, 6, 23, 36, 37, 43, 89, and 94. In the Tier III category are House Districts 7 and 79.
What’s At Stake
Democratic majorities in Ohio would implement progressive policies to combat years of extreme, conservative proposals that have undermined women’s rights, gun safety, and voting rights, in particular.
Instead of implementing gun safety measures in the wake of mass shootings around the country, Ohio Republicans have loosened gun laws, even allowing those with a concealed carry license to bring their gun into a daycare.
Ohio Republicans have continued to find ways to make it harder for voters to vote. In 2005, Ohio passed a voter ID law. In 2011, Republicans tightened ID requirements and shortened early voting, and in 2016, the US Supreme Court upheld the shortened early voting period. The US Supreme Court also upheld Ohio’s system of purging voters from the rolls if they don’t vote in an election for two years, making it harder for people like servicemembers to exercise their right to vote.
Republican legislators in Ohio have been very busy in recent years crafting new ways to restrict access to women’s health care. In 2017, lawmakers banned abortions after 20 weeks, and in 2016, Governor Kasich vetoed the “heartbeat bill,” that would have banned abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected, which can be as early as six weeks.
EveryDistrict endorses candidates in competitive districts that are committed to moving their communities forward, have strong connections to their districts, and have a campaign strategy in place to win. In Ohio, EveryDistrict has endorsed: Paul Bradley (SD 5), Sharon Sweda (SD 13), Louise Valentine (SD 19), Lauren Friedman (SD 29), Phil Robinson (HD 6), Mary Lightbody (HD 19), Beth Liston (HD 21), Russ Harris (HD 23), Allison Russo (HD 24), Jessica Miranda (HD 28), Casey Weinstein (HD 37), Dan Foley (HD 43), Joe Helle (HD 89), and Taylor Sappington (HD 94).