WARREN, Ohio (WKBN) — After spending much of his life in elected office, one-time Warren Mayor Mike O’Brien now has his eyes set on the Ohio Statehouse.
O’Brien filed his petitions at the Trumbull County Board of Elections Thursday afternoon to run for the 64th District State Representative’s seat in the Democratic primary this spring. He said with roughly 30 years in office, including as Warren Mayor, Warren City Councilman and Trumbull County Commissioner, he wants to take his background and experience to Columbus.
“Over the years I’ve built relationships with city officials, township officials, county officials and school officials, whether it be superintendents or school board members and I want to be a very active voice in the 64th district and I’m looking forward to the challenge,” O’Brien said.
O’Brien is looking to succeed Tom Letson, who has to give up his seat after this year because of term limits.
He’ll face a challenge in the primary from Democrat Eugene Mach II of Warren, who is the academic coordinator for the Upward Bound Program at Youngstown State University, where he also is taking graduate classes. He will complete his master’s degree in education administration this summer.
In a news release sent Friday, Mach said O’Brien is not the right man for the job. He specifically cited O’Brien’s claim that his goal as state representative would be to get more money for local government, which Mach said “sounds great to local government officials and the community, but simply isn’t realistic.”
“Our state, like every other state, has been working to keep costs down due to budget limitations. Where does he think this money is going to come from?” Mach said. “The state has much bigger problems to worry about, such as how organizations that open charter schools can close their doors after only two months of operation and walk away with millions in taxpayer money, or how are we going to restructure vocational and technical education in order to have the skilled labor force the growing local industries need. As much as I respect Mr. O’Brien for his past service, I don’t believe he is the man we need in Columbus. We need people who are focused on problems at a state level, and I fear that his extensive service at the local level has limited his focus and will hinder him if elected to the General Assembly,” Mach said in an emailed statement.
Mach said his primary focuses will be implementing a school funding system for the state of Ohio, as well as revamping vocational education.