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Sharon Sweda, Ohio State Senate District 13
Sharon Sweda, the daughter of a UAW 425 Auto worker and the oldest of four siblings, is running to be the next State Senator of Ohio’s 13th District. Sharon is a native of the district who was born and raised in Lorain, and chose to raise her own family there as well. She is now a proud mother and grandmother with a deep understanding of the community.
Sharon is also a successful small businesswoman, and has run her own real estate agency with her husband for the last 30 years. Her firm now has offices in four cities in the 13th District. Despite the difficulties faced by the real estate industry in the last two recessions, she never laid off an employee. Sharon has sat across from hundreds of families in times of both prosperity and strife, and deeply understands what keeps them up at night. Furthermore, she understands both rural and urban challenges, having raised Clydesdale horses in Huron Township for 14 of the last 17 years.
As the next State Senator, Sharon will use the experience she has gained from her many industry leadership positions, both at the county and state levels, along with her negotiating skills, to bring people together. She cares deeply about ensuring that citizens of Ohio have access to affordable healthcare and quality public education. Furthermore, she is determined to help find a solution to the opioid epidemic.
Paul Bradley, Ohio State Senate District 5
Paul Bradley, who is running for the State Senate position in Ohio’s 5th District, will bring an impressive amount of experience to the position if elected. A resident of Dayton, Paul has spent over a decade focused on politics.
After graduating from the University of Dayton in 2009 with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, Paul went to work for Senator Sherrod Brown for seven years. During his tenure as a member of Senator Brown’s staff, Paul served as the Regional Representative for Southwest Ohio and spent most of his time engaging constituents directly.
When he moved to Dayton, Paul became heavily involved in local politics. Not only is he currently a member of the Montgomery County Democrat’s Executive Committee, he spent time as the President of the Montgomery County Young Democrats and also managed a county commission race.
Paul now works as the Director of Government Relations and Advancement at Antioch University, a position he began in 2016. He devotes much of his free time to volunteering, he serving as a Board Member for the Miami Valley Fair Housing Center, the Dayton Human Relations Council, and the City of Dayton Plan Board. Furthermore, he also dedicates some time each week to working at an afterschool program with Dayton Public School students.
If elected, Paul is committed to improving Ohio’s public school system, especially by holding for-profit charter schools accountable to taxpayers. He is also focused on supporting collective bargaining and he will fight any and all attempts to try to turn Ohio into a right to work state.
Louise Valentine, Ohio State Senate District 19
Louise Valentine, an Ohio native, is running for the State Senator position in Ohio’s 19th District. Born and raised in Northeast Ohio, she is the daughter of a packaging engineer for Clorox. Louise’s father began his career at Clorox as a member of the International Chemical Workers Union in Cleveland and took night classes to become an engineer.
Louise received her education entirely from Ohio public schools. She attended the public schools in Alyria, graduating high school as her class Salutatorian, before going to Ohio State University. She received both undergraduate and graduate degrees from Ohio State, finishing her education in 2006. During her time at Ohio State, she met her husband, also a student there. The two now live in Genoa Township with their twin sons, Anthony and Nicholas, and their dog, Kaiya.
Louise has worked at L-Brands for the last ten years, the last seven of which she has spent leading a consumer testing program. She was chosen to head this group after completing a company leadership training program. Now, however, Louise intends to apply her impressive work ethic and these leadership skills on behalf of the people of the 19th District.
If elected, Louise is committed to putting aside partisan politics and working for the citizens of Ohio. She is focused on strengthening Ohio’s public school system, improving access to health care, and stimulating the economy on behalf of small business.
Lauren Friedman, Ohio State Senate District 29
Lauren Friedman, a Stark County native and mother of three, is running to be the next State Senator of Ohio’s 29th District. She is a veteran of the Navy who has proven herself to be unwaveringly dedicated to public service.
During her time at Lake High School in Stark County, Lauren realized that she wanted to serve her country, so she earned an appointment to the United States Naval Academy, one of the world’s premier leadership institutions. When she graduated from the Naval Academy in 2002, less than a year after 9/11, she and her classmates immediately took on leadership positions in the War on Terror.
Lauren spent five years as a Naval Intelligence Officer, including two wartime deployments in Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom, constantly honing her leadership abilities. Though she lived in many places during her time in the Navy, when she was honorably discharged in 2007, Lauren moved back home to Stark County.
Upon her return, Lauren married her husband Tom, who she had known since their tenure together on the Lake High Cross Country and Track teams. She is now the proud mother of three sons and several rescued pets.
Lauren’s commitment to helping others has not wavered. As she transitioned back to civilian life, she volunteered at the Packard Institute in Akron, helping young adults battle addiction, and then worked for the Social Security Office in Canton. Wanting to do even more, Lauren returned to school, earning a Masters in Education Degree in Rehabilitation Counseling from Kent State University. Lauren has used this degree to spend the last six years working for the Stark County Board of Developmental Disabilities, helping some of the county’s most marginalized people.
The results of the 2016 election inspired Lauren to get even more involved. She started the group Action Together Stark, and has now been inspired to use her leadership training and professional skills to run for public office. As State Senator for Ohio’s 29th District, Lauren will be able to take a more active role in her community and better serve Stark County and the country that she loves.
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.
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