For Trumbull state reps: Holmes, O’Brien get nods

Save for a relatively few bad apples, representatives from the Mahoning Valley in the Ohio General Assembly historically have given constituents strong, conscientious and unified leadership. Many have used years of political acumen and community-service experience to fight for dollars and policies that benefit our region.

In this fall’s election, responsible voters in Trumbull County should continue that tradition of top-caliber representation by sending their best to the 2017-18 session of the state’s chief lawmaking body. After reviewing the credentials of candidates for the 63rd and 64th House seats and after interviewing each of them in recent weeks, The Vindicator believes Democrats Glenn Holmes and Michael O’Brien can best carry on that tradition for those respective districts. We endorse them with confidence.

With that said, however, their Republican challengers bring solid platforms and effective backgrounds to the races. But the experience of our endorsed candidates give them the edge.


Constituents in the 63rd District will elect their first new leader in six years, given that longtime and effective incumbent Rep. Sean O’Brien opted to pursue a seat in the Senate. Atty. Devon Stanley of Girard, the Republican nominee for the district that encompasses Niles, Girard, Hubbard, Liberty, Cortland and Liberty, presents a variegated policy platform that includes raising standards for Ohio’s largely failing network of charter schools, exploring options to lower state taxes and working for capital improvements in the Mahoning Valley.

All of those goals have merit, and Stanley impressed The Vindicator Editorial Board with his commitment to advocacy and problem-solving for constituents.

Against lesser competition, Stanley would be a solid option for 63rd District residents to elect. But given that his competitor, McDonald Mayor Glenn Holmes, has decades of demonstrated proven leadership and public service under his belt, he emerges as the stronger candidate.

Holmes’ curriculum vitae is extensive and touches many arenas of governmental service. In addition to serving as mayor for eight years, he also has legislative experience on village council and has served on boards of the region’s Eastgate Council of Regional Government, the Mahoning River Mayors Association, the Ohio Public Works Commission and various other regional and state groups. As such, he already has solid contacts with many of the movers and shakers he would need to network with as an effective state representative.

His goals, too, are effective and focused on constituent and community needs. They include better regulation of injection wells, stronger oversight of charter schools and a return of funds to financially struggling local communities from the state’s $2 billion Rainy Day Fund.


In the 64th District, Farmington Township Trustee Martha Yoder is challenging one-term incumbent O’Brien. One of her initial goals last winter – removal of a burdensome consent decree between Trumbull County and the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency – was achieved last spring, resulting in the same rules for septic-system regulation as the rest of the state. She now says she will advocate to take that progress one step further by seeking elimination of forced sewer tie-ins.

She also pledges to work for infrastructure improvements with state assistance, particularly for townships, and for greater reform in foster-care for stronger child protection.

All are solid plans. We, however, found her criticism of O’Brien as having produced “a status quo of ineptitude” as “part of the political establishment for 30 years” to be unwarranted.

If anything, O’Brien’s lengthy record of public service should be commended, not shamed. Over the past three decades, he has served responsibly as a Warren city councilman, mayor, Trumbull County commissioner and state representative. In Columbus, he has forged cohesive alliances with the rest of the Mahoning Valley delegation and has been a strong voice in the Legislature for restoration of Local Government Funds and for solving the state’s school funding crisis. He’s also been in the front lines of constituent service in such areas as safe drinking water, septic regulations and capital improvements for such Trumbull treasures as the W. D. Packard Music Hall.

As a strong steward of advocacy and service to 64th District residents, O’Brien has earned re-election to a second term.