A Coitsville native is running for an Ohio Senate seat in Cuyahoga County
By David Skolnick
A Coitsville native, whose family has a history of community service, is running in the Republican primary for a state Senate seat in Cuyahoga County.
Tom Haren, 27, seeking his first elected office, said the inspiration to run for the 23rd Ohio Senate District seat comes from his upbringing.
“I’ve been very blessed in my life,” he said. “My family is living the American dream and we all try to do what we can to make the world a little bit better. One way is to serve people. I grew up with politics and community service in my home. I want to give back.”
In his first bid as an elected officeholder, Haren, an attorney from Parma with a law office in Westlake, will first face Harry E. Ristmae of Brook Park in the May 6 Republican primary. Haren has received numerous endorsements including the Cuyahoga County Republican Party, the Ohio Right to Life Political Action Committee, and The Plain Dealer [the latter for the GOP primary race].
The primary winner will face state Sen. Michael J. Skindell, a Democrat from Lakewood who is seeking re-election this year and previously served eight years in the Ohio House.
The district, which leans Democrat, includes a portion of Cleveland as well as numerous suburbs of the city such as Parma, Lakewood, Brook Park, Brooklyn Heights and Linndale. Over the years, Republicans have fared poorly in the district.
Haren said growing up in the Mahoning Valley will help him in this race.
“The Valley has an underdog mentality, and we tend to surprise people from time to time,” he said. “We’re working hard to get through the primary, but this is a race we need to win in November.”
Haren graduated in 2004 from Lowellville High School. The school’s campus is named in honor of his maternal grandfather, Ralph Conti, who spent 39 years on the Lowellville school board and donated the land on which the kindergarten-through-grade-12 school is located. Two of Haren’s uncles have also served on the school board.
Haren’s father, Greg, is serving his second term as a Coitsville trustee, and is chief executive officer of Enertech Electrical Inc., and an executive with The Conti Corp., both started by Tom’s grandfather.
“We always figured that Tom was going to get involved in politics,” Greg said. “He was a good debater even when he was 10 years old. Our family loved to debate. We’re very proud of him.”
Haren earned a bachelor’s degree in philosophy at John Carroll University in 2008 and a law degree three years later from Cleveland-Marshall College of Law.
“Public service has always been important to me, both in my personal and professional life,” he said.