LIMA — The Ohio Constitution mandates the election of five state-wide offices: Governor/Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, Secretary of State, Treasurer and Auditor. Currently all of theses offices are held by Republicans who are running for reelection this year. Their Democratic opponents, most of whom have not run for statewide office before, entered their races comparatively late and have far less money to spend.
The Attorney General’s office provides legal representation to the state of Ohio, including its many agencies, offices, boards, commissions and higher education institutions. The office’s work brings criminals to justice, preserves Ohioans’ rights and protects the interests of state government and the citizens it serves. The office also provides formal opinions on legal questions arising during the course of public officials’ work. The AG also collects debts owed to the state, oversees the state’s crime lab, runs programs to train and assist local law enforcement and enforces state law regarding consumer protections, non-profit charities, anti-trust cases and organized crime.
Republican incumbent Dave Yost is campaigning on his work during his first term including fighting human trafficking, filing suit against figures in the House Bill 6 bribery scandal and reaching an $800 million-plus opioid settlement between local governments and drug distributors and a manufacturer. Before Yost was elected attorney general in 2018, he was state auditor for eight years. Prior to that, he was prosecuting attorney for Delaware County for seven years and Delaware county auditor for four years. Yost has a law degree from Capital University in Columbus.
Democrat challenger Jeff Crossman, a Parma attorney, has been a state representative since 2019. He previously served five years as a Parma City Council member. Crossman graduated magna cum laude from Cleveland-Marshall College of Law. Crossman claims Yost hasn’t done enough to go after people involved with the scandal over House Bill 6, and he’s criticized Yost for successfully pushing a federal judge to allow Ohio’s “heartbeat” abortion ban to take effect minutes after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.
Secretary of State
The Secretary of State supervises the administration of election laws; reviews statewide initiative and referendum petitions; chairs the Ohio Ballot Board, which approves ballot language for statewide issues; canvasses votes for all elective state offices and issues; and investigates election fraud and irregularities. He or she also serves on the seven-member Ohio Redistricting Commission, which is tasked with drawing new statewide legislative districts and can play a role in congressional redistricting as well.
Currently, Republican Secretary of State Frank LaRose has the job. The northeast Ohio native is a former state senator, a U.S. Army veteran, and the father to three daughters. LaRose opposes expanding voting opportunities such as expanding voting hours and locations as well as same-day voter registration.
LaRose has two challengers, Democrat Chelsea Clark and independent candidate Terpsehore (Tore) Maras.
Clark is a small business owner from the Cincinnati area who served on the Forest Park City Council, a Cincinnati suburb, since 2017. Clark has a bachelor’s degree in political science and business from Miami University. An Elida High School graduate, she’s also a single mom and the founder of an education non-profit that helps children learn math and science. Clark supports expanding and modernizing voting opportunities, such as expanding voting hours and locations as well as same-day voter registration.
Maras is a Cleveland podcaster and U.S. Navy veteran who worked for the intelligence community. She embraces parts of the QAnon conspiracy theory and was a key witness in attorney Sidney Powell’s lawsuit seeking to overturn the 2020 presidential election results. She has a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Kentucky. She is a single mother of two girls and an entrepreneur. Maras believes Ohio should return to paper ballots and eliminate all Ohio voting machines.
The Treasurer of Ohio is responsible for collecting taxes and fees, managing $21.5 billion in state investments, and safeguarding state money.
Robert Sprague was elected state treasurer in 2018. He was a state representative for eight years. Prior to coming to Columbus, Sprague was auditor and treasurer in Findlay. He has an MBA from the University of North Carolina. He has touted his office’s work on the AG-LINK program, in which the state partners with local banks to lower interest rates for farmers, and OhioCheckbook.com, which is intended to show how state and local governments spend tax dollars.
Scott Schertzer is the mayor of Marion. He previously served on Marion City Council. He also was a 2018 gubernatorial candidate, Connie Pillich’s running mate for less than a month before they dropped out of the race. In the 1990s, he worked in the state treasurer’s office for Mary Ellen Withrow. A former teacher, Schertzer has a bachelor’s degree in social studies education from the University of Toledo. He said one of his priorities would be to look at the treasurer’s designated appointments to the state’s five pension boards – especially the State Teachers Retirement System.
The Auditor of State’s office is responsible for auditing all public offices in Ohio, more than 5,900 entities, including cities, counties, villages, townships, schools, state universities and public libraries as well as all state agencies, boards and commissions. The Auditor’s office also offers performance auditing for state and local public offices, identifies and investigates fraud in public agencies, provides financial services to local governments and promotes transparency in government.
Keith Faber, a Celina resident, served as state representative and state senator, including as Ohio Senate president from 2013 until 2017, before he was elected state auditor in 2018. He has a law degree from Ohio State University. Faber has vowed to continue the work he’s done during the past four years to uncover illegal actions by state employees and identify inefficient government spending, such as when the auditor’s office found that Ohio’s unemployment system wrongly paid more than $3.8 billion during the coronavirus crisis because of fraud and errors.
Taylor Sappington has served as auditor for the city of Nelsonville since 2019. In 2018, he ran unsuccessfully for Ohio House. Sappington has a bachelor’s degree in political science and government from Ohio University and is currently working on a master’s in public administration from OU. Sappington says he would work to ramp up anti-corruption efforts in the auditor’s office by establishing a public corruption task force and conducting more special audits. He also says he would, as a member of the Ohio Redistricting Commission, push for congressional and legislative districts that are competitive and don’t split up neighborhoods.
Reach Dean Brown at 567-242-0409