KSU alum could be next state senator

Erica Crist

State Rep. Kathleen Chandler nominated for open Senate seat in the 28th district

State Rep. Kathleen Chandler accepts her unanimous appointment for consideration to take over the 28th District Ohio Senate seat last night at the Italian American Society in Ravenna. The 28th district represents Portage County and southern portions of Su

Credit: Jason Hall

Craig Stephens, chairman of the Portage County Democratic Party, said he will recommend State Rep. Kathleen Chandler to represent the 28th District in the state Senate at last night’s central committee meeting.

“Thank you all for your support and vote of confidence,” Chandler said. “I will work very hard to gain the appointment.”

Robert Dempsey, political director of the Ohio State Democratic Caucus, said state Sen. Kimberly Zurz’s empty seat should be filled within a week of getting the recommendations.

“What we have to do is take the recommendations of the county party chairs of the counties that comprise district, so in this case it would be the Portage and Summit County chairmen’s recommendations,” Dempsey said. “Then the senators will interview those individuals and vote on who they think would be the best replacement.”

Zurz, who was recently appointed to head the Ohio Department of Commerce by Gov. Ted Strickland, has represented all of Portage County, part of Akron and part of Green since 2003.

For the past 20 years, the Senate seat has switched between Summit and Portage County politicians. However, regardless of this trend, Stephens said the caucus is looking for an established individual who has a good track record of elections, raising money and being active in both counties.

Chandler’s service in local government began in Kent, where she was a councilwoman and mayor, followed by her position as Portage County Commissioner. She is now beginning her fifth year as state representative. She earned her master’s degree in public management from Kent State in 1990.

Chandler said she wants to accomplish all of the things she has been campaigning for in the past if she is appointed to state Senate.

“Education is my primary focus,” she said. “We need to address the high cost of higher education. We need to think of some school-funding formulas.”

She said property taxes, the economy, job production and health care are also areas of concern.

Portage County Commissioner Chuck Keiper withdrew his name from consideration for the recommendation due to his mother’s illness.

“I want to thank you for the belief that this little farm kid from Mantua is someone who can represent you and be your voice in Columbus,” Keiper said. “I have asked God to guide my decision, and the answer that he has left me in every quiet moment was that now is not the time to be away from my family.”

Keiper asked the central committee to unanimously endorse Chandler, which they did.

Stephens and Pat Nelson, secretary of the Portage County Democratic Party, said they will send the recommendation today. Chandler will be interviewed Tuesday, and they are expecting the new state senator to be appointed Wednesday.

Contact public affairs reporter Erica Crist at [email protected].