Voters elected Lake County Commissioner Jerry Cirino of Kirtland to the District 18 seat in the Ohio Senate during the Nov. 3 general election, according to the unofficial results from the Ohio Secretary of State. Mr. Cirino will be taking Sen. John Eklund’s, R-Munson, seat, winning against civil rights attorney Betsy Rader of Russell Township.
Mr. Cirino, the Republican candidate, brought in 113,588 (60.49 percent) votes throughout Geauga, Lake and Portage counties against Democratic candidate Ms. Rader’s 74,188 (39.51 percent) votes. Election results will not be official, however, until their certification by the Secretary of State no later than Nov. 28, with mail-in ballots postmarked by Nov. 2 accepted by Nov. 13.
“It feels good,” Mr. Cirino said in an interview with the Times. “Our campaign worked very hard for 17 months here since I declared my candidacy, and we really focused a lot on voter contact.”
Mr. Cirino said he believes his experience and the time he took to get to know his voters is what made the real difference in the election results.
“This was a race about experience,” he said, explaining his history as a business owner who created jobs in Ohio and county commissioner “provided me with the right experience level to represent the people of the 18th District and to help Ohio address many of the issues that we’re now facing, including coming out of this [COVID-19] recession.”
The current Lake commissioner received his B.S. and M.B.A. from Lake Erie College. Mr. Cirino is also the recipient of the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Humane Letters and has been involved in business programs at the Harvard Business School and Harvard Law School. He was the founding CEO of SourceOne Healthcare Technologies and served on the Lakeland Community College Board of Trustees. Mr. Cirino also served as a board member for Lake Health Systems and Lake Erie College.
Mr. Cirino said he stands by his campaign mission, highlighting his top three goals as the first initiatives he plans to tackle as state senator. These include access to quality education regardless of property taxes and location, access to quality healthcare with a bigger push on telemedicine and Medicare expansions and economic development by bringing more businesses into the state to create more jobs in Ohio.
Ms. Rader said in an interview Tuesday night that the outcome of the election was “disappointing” and is a result of gerrymandering in the state. She said even with a number of mail-in ballots yet to be counted, she doesn’t expect them to flip more than one or two districts in the state.
“I really think that the gerrymandering has baked in these Republican supermajorities that have led to a horrible culture of corruption in Ohio. They’ve led to a declining economy and unfunded education system,” she said. “So you see an election, once again, in Ohio where despite all the struggles Ohio’s having under the status quo, we’re electing more of the same, and I’m concerned for Ohio’s future.”
Ms. Rader is a graduate of the Ohio State University, where she received her undergraduate degree, and Yale, where she received her law degree.
Despite the results, however, Ms. Rader said she’s proud of her campaign and its grassroots efforts.
“I didn’t take any corporate PAC money, and I’m really proud of that,” she said. “And it’s really been a wonderful coming together of members of the community.”
As a civil rights attorney, Ms. Rader said she has been representing those unemployed during the COVID-19 pandemic and plans to continue this with the election coming to a close. She said she’ll continue representing neglected and abused children, standing up for workers and those underserved in Ohio. She said she does not currently have plans to run for office in the future.
“[The district] is getting somebody who can hit the ground running in Columbus,” Mr. Cirino said. While he expects a learning curve as a new senator, he said he believes he is well-equipped “to start contributing right away because of the experience and background that I’ve had.
“[I’m] honored by the confidence the voters have expressed to me in a very serious way,” he added, “and I’m looking forward to working hard for all the people of Ohio, as well as particularly the people in the 18th Senate District.”