State Rep. Sean O’Brien receives ballot challenge from retired Niles educator

By Ed Runyan


Sean O’Brien is attempting to hold onto the seat in the Ohio House of Representatives he first won in 2010 and defended in 2012.

His opponent in the May 6 Democratic primary is retired educator Marianne James of Niles, a first-time candidate. The 63rd District includes Niles, Liberty Township, Girard and many smaller Trumbull County communities.

James, who has worked in public education 25 years, 12 of those in the Cleveland municipal schools, also has taught at the college level.

“I believe a strong educational system builds strong communities and better employment opportunities,” she said.

“A strong labor force and union support provide a living wage for Ohioans, healthy and safe working conditions and reduced need for public assistance,” she said.

O’Brien of Bazetta says he’s running for re-election “to continue giving our community a strong voice in Columbus.”

He was an assistant Trumbull County prosecutor before being elected state representative. Over his first two terms he has sponsored or co-sponsored bills for economic development, septic reform, compressed natural- gas development, prescription-drug reform and workforce development, he said.

O’Brien sponsored legislation to correct what he feels is an unfair Ohio law requiring a person to tie into a sewer line when a private developer constructs one close to his or her home.

The legislation would allow a person to opt out of the sewer line if the board of health determines that the septic system is working properly or can be repaired, he said. The Ohio Department of Health and Ohio Environmental Protection Agency helped O’Brien write the legislation, he said.

Warren Municipal Court Judge Thomas Gysegem’s decision in a case before him spurred the legislation.

Judge Gysegem ruled that a Vienna woman didn’t have to tie into a sewer line that had been constructed by a developer near a home she owns on Warren-Sharon Road near state Route 11 in Howland Township.

The judge ruled that forcing the woman to tie in “would constitute an impermissible nonpublic taking [of something she owns] under the Constitution.”

The judgment entry also said that “the time for remedial legislative action is long past due.”

O’Brien said in a recent interview, “I believe the judge is right. It’s unconstitutional.”

O’Brien also secured a $30,000 grant to pay for a study conducted by Youngstown State University that analyzed the possibility of consolidating the police departments in Hubbard, Hubbard Township and Brookfield Township. The parties are now looking at how to implement the results of the study, O’Brien said.

James said the Common Core Curriculum the state has endorsed for its public schools establishes standards aimed at ensuring students are prepared to enter post-secondary education or the workforce. The state says the curriculum was designed to ensure that students are prepared to enter post-secondary education or the workforce.

But the standards don’t help students learn and don’t reflect the needs of students from urban school districts, James said.

“I think the states, before Common Core ... were doing a better job. Now we seem to have companies looking for a way to test students and not to help develop their creativity and ingenuity. Testing and standardized testing does not build knowledge.

“If we want people and our students to be leaders, they have to be creative. And when you take everything as a recipe, that doesn’t happen,” she said. “As we look at the basics of the Common Core, we’re dumbing down the basics of addition and subtraction.”

The Ohio Department of Education adopted Common Core standards in English language arts and math in June 2010 as part of a multi-state effort, according to the Ohio Department of Education. The board also adopted more rigorous versions of Ohio’s academic content standards in science and social studies.

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