Four Dems seek Ohio House seat in Aug. 2 primary
Political party: Democratic
Occupation: Youngstown councilwoman
Previous elected experience: Fifth Ward councilwoman in Youngstown since January 2016
Goals: Work with schools to give them the tools to properly educate students, partner with quasi-public groups to spur economic development and bring together various entities to work toward the growth of regional infrastructure.
Political party: Democratic
Occupation: Direct sales supervisor for Charter Spectrum in Warren
Previous elected experience: Eight years as a Youngstown school board member
Goals: Fight for voter rights, work toward fair funding of education, and job creation and economic development.
JOHN R. DYCE
Political party: Democratic
Occupation: Retired U.S. Postal Service driver and letter carrier, current president of the Ohio State Association of Letter Carriers
Previous elected experience: None
Goals: Restore public confidence in the Statehouse, help senior citizen homeowners and assist veterans.
WAYNE PENNY JR. (no photo, SEE BELOW)
Political party: Democratic
Penny did not return a candidate questionnaire, did not provide a photo and did not respond to numerous attempts to reach him.
Four Democrats are vying for their party’s nomination to the new 59th Ohio House District seat in the Aug. 2 primary.
Running are Youngstown 5th Ward Councilwoman Lauren McNally; Ronald Shadd, a former two-term Youngstown school board member; John R. Dyce of Hanoverton, who unsuccessfully ran for a state House seat in 2016 and 2018; and Wayne Penny Jr. of Youngstown.
The new 59th House District includes Youngstown, Coitsville, Ellsworth, Poland, Sebring, New Middletown, North Lima, Smith, Goshen, Green, Beaver and Springfield along with four townships in northwestern Columbiana County.
No Republicans filed for the seat. The independent filing deadline is Aug. 1, the day before the primary, to run in the Nov. 8 election. Poland Township Trustee Eric Ungaro is planning to file as an independent.
The primary for state legislative candidates initially was scheduled for May 3, but the Ohio Supreme Court ruled five times that maps approved by the Republican-controlled Ohio Redistricting Commission were unconstitutional because they unfairly favored Republicans. That caused the primary to be delayed.
A federal court announced April 20, however, that it planned to implement the third set of maps, rejected by the state court, no later than May 28 if the state couldn’t approve constitutional one. When that did not happen, the federal court imposed the third set of maps May 27 and put them in effect for only this election. That third set of maps took portions of the existing 58th, 59th and 5th Ohio House Districts to create a new 59th District.
Repeated attempts to contact Penny to discuss his candidacy were unsuccessful.
McNally has served as Youngstown’s 5th Ward councilwoman since January 2016 and had previously worked in marketing and content management.
Asked what she has that the other Democratic challengers for this seat don’t have, McNally said: “Experience. I’ve been on city council for seven years now and during that time I have made relationships with two city administrations, all city council members, now two terms of them, and have had such good relationships with them that they’ve put me in leadership positions.”
She added: “I’ve also made relationships with community leaders. Those public, private and philanthropic relationships are the things you really need to be successful in the position I’m in now and in Columbus.”
McNally said her top three priorities are to work with schools to give them the tools to properly educate students, partner with quasi-public groups to spur economic development and to bring together various entities to work toward the growth of regional infrastructure.
“I will work to build a coalition of bipartisan representatives from around Ohio to create common-sense legislation that works for all of our families and our businesses,” she said.
She wants to work with boards of education to enrich every district with state assistance as well as partner with workforce agencies, business associations and trade unions to provide alternative education opportunities and career paths.
McNally said she plans to work with organizations such as the Youngstown Warren Regional Chamber, Eastgate Regional Council of Governments, Economic Action Group and the Western Reserve Port Authority to spur economic development in the area and also bring various groups together to “work toward creating regionalized infrastructure and economic development plans that capitalize on our resources.”
Shadd spent eight years on the Youngstown school board before he lost a bid for a third four-year term in 2021.
He is the direct sales supervisor at Charter Spectrum in Warren, where he’s worked since February 2020. Before that, he was an administrative organizer with the Service Employee International Union District 1199, supervisor of family and community engagement for Mercer County Head Start and worked for the Mahoning and Columbiana Training Association.
During his time as a school board member, including serving as president, Shadd said he spoke with state officials and testified in front of legislative committees to get the Youngstown district out from under state control.
“Through that process, I was like, ‘Wow, this looks like the work I’m doing here can be magnified if I dare to take that next step and go to that next level,'” he said.
Shadd said he lost his 2021 re-election because he was more focused on getting Youngstown free from state control and eliminating that for other school districts, rather than focused on his campaign.
Shadd said he has more experience on the state level than his opponents.
His top priorities are fighting for voter rights, working toward fair funding of education, and job creation and economic development.
“I will work to ensure that every citizen has the right to vote that is seamless and accessible,” said Shadd, adding that he would work to create more election ballot voting dropboxes — which the Republican-controlled state Legislature has restricted to one per county — and to maintain the state’s existing early voting system.
He also wants to introduce legislation ensuring a constitutional approach to fair funding for education, and engage and assist with the business sector to support educational programs and apprenticeship to meet workforce demands.
Shadd said he will work to ensure that Ohio has opportunities for commercial property to be shovel-ready and provide support to existing businesses as well as help minority and local businesses develop and grow.
Dyce had initially filed to run in an Ohio House District that included most of Columbiana and all of Carroll counties. But when the Ohio Redistricting Commission changed the maps, it moved Dyce’s hometown of Hanoverton into this district. Dyce unsuccessfully ran in 2016 and 2018 for state representative in heavily-Republican Columbiana County.
Dyce spent 26 years as a U.S. Postal Service driver and letter carrier, retiring in 2012. Since 2009, he’s served as president of the Ohio State Association of Letter Carriers and since 2010 has been a vice president with the Ohio AFL-CIO.
Dyce said: “Serving in the Ohio House would be a continuation of what I’ve been doing most of my life: fighting for working men and women in Ohio and across the country, workers rights, better pay, better retirement, better communities. I’ve been active in all of those venues. I’m just continuing that. I’m attempting to move onto a different playing field.”
He added: “I’m not looking for a new career. I don’t need the paycheck. I don’t need the health care. I want to do what’s best for people. I think too many politicians have forgotten what their true mission is and they tend to put themselves first.”
Dyce said his top priorities are to restore public confidence in the Statehouse, help senior citizen homeowners and assist veterans.
There is a mistrust of state government, Dyce said, with criminal investigations under two Republican speakers of the House. He wants to bring back that trust.
Dyce also said he wants state government to respect senior citizen homeowners and veterans.
Regarding senior homeowners, the state should change the income qualifier for the Homestead Exemption Act to give more of them a property tax break, Dyce said.
Veterans return from service and find it difficult to use the skills and experience they have under current state law because they don’t have the needed state licensing or certification, Dyce said. He plans to work so “Ohio is attractive for retiring members of the armed forces (to) return to Ohio to work and live.”
Dyce also wants a review of tax cuts given by the state over the years because he said they have unfairly favored the wealthy while working families have received little benefit.