Statehouse races feature 10 hopefuls for 4 seats
33RD SENATE DISTRICT
JOE SCHIAVONI* (D)
Home: 3765 Mercedes Place, Canfield.
Education: A law degree from Capital University, a bachelor of science degree from Ohio University, and a Boardman High School graduate.
Employment: State senator and attorney.
Family: Engaged to Margaret Potts.
Priority: Job creation and job security.
MATTHEW M. LEWIS (R)
Home: 11888 Columbiana-Canfield Road, Columbiana.
Education: Working on his law degree at the University of Akron School of Law; a bachelor’s degree in business from Walsh University; a Waverly High School graduate.
Employment: Law school student.
Family: Wife, Marie; three sons and two daughters.
Priority: To determine what obstacles are prohibiting companies from expanding and what state government can do to assist in their growth.
59TH HOUSE DISTRICT
RONALD V. GERBERRY* (D)
Home: 2940 Whispering Pines Drive, Austintown.
Education: A bachelor of arts degree from Youngstown State University, an Austintown Fitch High School graduate.
Employment: An Ohio House representative.
Family: Wife, Kathy; two sons and one daughter.
Priority: To maintain the highest quality of constituent service as possible and continue his active role in the legislative process.
MICHAEL PESTIAN SR. (R)
Home: 3261 Meanderwood Drive, Canfield.
Education: A Steubenville Catholic Central High School graduate.
Employment: District manger for Carter Lumber.
Family: Wife, Terry; three sons.
Priority: Economic development and job creation.
60TH HOUSE DISTRICT
ROBERT F. HAGAN* (D)
Home: 562 Madera Ave., Youngstown.
Education: Ursuline High School graduate.
Employment: An Ohio House representative and locomotive engineer for CSX Railroad.
Family: Wife, Michele Lepore- Hagan; three daughters and two sons.
Priority: To continue to fight for economic and social justice in the district.
61ST HOUSE DISTRICT
MARK D. OKEY* (D)
Home: 460 Antigua Road SW, Carrollton.
Education: A law degree from Ohio Northern University School of Law, a bachelor of arts degree from Kent State University, a graduate of Glenwood High School in Canton.
Employment: An Ohio House representative.
Family: Wife, Kathleen; two daughters and one son.
Priority: Creating jobs for Ohioans while balancing the state budget.
MICHAEL FOIT (R)
Home: 6332 Senlac Road SE, Amsterdam.
Education: Carrollton High School graduate.
Employment: A delivery driver for the M. Conley Co., a wholesale distributor of paper, packaging, janitorial and food- service materials in Canton.
Family: Wife, Mary Kay; three sons and one daughter.
Priority: To return Ohio to the industrial dynamo it once was by being business friendly.
Source: individual questionnaires
By David Skolnick
The incumbent Democrats representing Mahoning County in the state Legislature face challengers who’ve never been elected to political office.
Among the incumbents, state Sen. Joe Schiavoni of Canfield has never been elected to office.
Ohio senators appointed him to represent the 33rd District in January 2009 to fill the unexpired term of John Boccieri, who vacated the seat after being elected to Congress.
Schiavoni faces challenges in the Nov. 2 election from Republican Matthew M. Lewis of Columbiana and Libertarian John K. Fockler Jr. of Boardman for a full four-year term.
Creating and maintaining jobs in the area is one of Schiavoni’s priorities.
“No one can deny that jobs are still scarce in the Mahoning Valley; however, we’ve been quite fortunate with job expansion in the past year,” he said.
To help create job opportunities, Schiavoni said he is “working with potential developers and people working on projects in the district. I feel that talking to interested parties and helping them through the initial process of development is one of my strengths.”
If elected, Lewis wants to “remove the barriers that stifle growth and new business by creating a partnership and open line of communication with employers to instill confidence in the private sector.”
Lewis said he wants to reduce the tax rate for individuals and businesses “to stimulate growth.”
Fockler did not respond to a questionnaire mailed to him by The Vindicator about the Senate race and on which this story is based.
In the 59th House District race, incumbent Ronald V. Gerberry of Austintown, who’s served more than 22 years in the Legislature, faces Republican Michael Pestian Sr. of Canfield and Libertarian Patrick Manning of Boardman.
“I have the experience, knowledge and background to offer continued excellent representation,” Gerberry said.
The best way to serve the district, Gerberry said, is to “support my community by my every action as state representative.”
Pestian said he’s running to “help rebuild” the Mahoning Valley, which he called “the forgotten part of the state.”
He added: “I want to provide a balance in our elected officials for this area. For three decades, the Mahoning Valley has lost jobs, forcing our friends, family and neighbors to look elsewhere because economic conditions have made it difficult to find jobs here.”
Manning didn’t respond to the questionnaire mailed to his home by the newspaper about this race.
The 60th House District race pits state Rep. Robert F. Hagan of Youngstown, a state House or Senate member for the past 23 years, against Republican Daniel R. Thimons.
Hagan said he will continue to fight for universal health-care coverage and “access to resources such as transportation, healthy lifestyle choices and public safety.”
Hagan also wants to “build on recent successes of our area and to provide a climate for continued economic development for years to come.”
Thimons didn’t respond to the questionnaire mailed to his home by the newspaper about this race.
State Rep. Mark Okey of Carrollton is seeking re-election against Republican Michael Foit of Amsterdam in the 61st House District.
Okey favors eliminating the state’s estate tax, reforming the property-tax system and cutting state spending across the board.
“We must eliminate waste, redundant services and conduct performance audits in all state departments,” Okey said.
Foit said he “believes we need to return to the principals of the Constitution. Our Founding Fathers gave us the most perfect form of government based on the laws of the creator. We need to return to these ideals.”