Ohio2006 Blog

News, analysis, and comments on Ohio elections.

Friday, August 4

Ohio House 16th: Brady (D) Hits the Ground Running

It was a great pleasure to sit down for lunch at Tastebuds on Tuesday with 16th Ohio House Congressional District candidate Jennifer Brady (D-Westlake), following the Medicare Part D press conference organized by senatorial candidate Rep. Sherrod Brown (D-Avon).

Brady is a late entrant in the race for the open 16th District seat, being vacated by term-limited Rep. Sally Kilbane (R-Rocky River). Ed Herman (R-Rocky River), who ran against Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D) two years ago, won the Republican nomination without opposition. The first Democratic candidate was Marie Lanene Meslat (D-Westlake), who dropped out of the Democratic primary after attorney and city prosecutor Michael O'Shea (D-Rocky River) filed as a write-in candidate. O'Shea won the nomination, but later dropped out himself and was replaced on the ballot by Brady, based on a vote by the Democratic precinct committee persons in the district. O'Shea is now Brady's campaign manager.

Brady has been a whirling dervish these past weeks getting her campaign up and running. Our lunch date was postponed from the prior Friday due to the onslaught of calls and appointments, and the palm piece and endorsement request letter she showed me at lunch were works in progress. She didn't yet have a campaign button to wear at the press conference, but assured me that one is in the works. Brady received the endorsement of Kucinich just the day before we met.

This is Brady's first run for public office, but she is no stranger to politics. The campaigns she has worked on include Mary J. Boyle for Governor in 1998, Al Gore for President in 2000 (in the "early days" when "not many Democrats showed up on the West Side"), Kevin Kelley for State Representative (he was later appointed to the Cleveland City Council in 2005 and elected in 2006), Jane Campbell for Mayor in 2001, and two challengers to Rep. Kilbane (John Sweeney in 2000 and Kevin Kennedy in 2002 and 2004). For three years she volunteered a few hours every week to work with Executive Director Cindy Marizette at the Cuyahoga County Democratic Party, and she has worked on other political projects including the Westside Democratic Meet-Up, the Coalition to Protect Social Security, the Greater Cleveland Voters Coalition, and the Campaign for a New Ohio. She has been elected precinct committee member.

Brady has lived in the 16th district for over 25 years. She and husband Ted have raised three sons, the youngest of whom is now 13. Before staying home to raise a family, she worked for the Social Security Administration and belonged to the American Federation of Government Employees. She has volunteered at her children’s school, St. Raphael's in Bay Village, and has been a volunteer cook for St. Malachi’s Hunger Center for over 20 years.

Brady says that she "knows through my own experiences" how important good government is to people’s lives. "My father was totally disabled, and my mother was able to raise her seven children with the benefits paid to us by Social Security. I attended the University of Dayton [where she obtained a bachelors degree in psychology] only with the help of the National Direct Student Loan and various grants and scholarships." Asked to name her role model as a politician, Brady demurred but said that her "role model in life" is her mother, who "didn't forget about values even though she was struggling." Being poor "could have made her really harsh, but it didn't." Her mother still "valued education and ideas and taking care of people." Brady's eyes teared up a little as she asked, "what can you say about a woman who would sell blood for a little extra money so she could keep our World Book Encyclopedia current?" Yet, after the occasional meal in a restaurant, Brady's mother would insist on leaving a generous tip, despite Brady's protest. "That server has been on her feet all day," her mother would say. Brady also said that her mother told her the story of the canary in the coal mine, long before senate candidate Sherrod Brown adopted it as his campaign symbol for working together and looking out for one another.

Asked what inspired her to run, Brady said it's because "we really need to change." Whether one looks at our jobs and how they're being out-sourced, proper support for schools, access to college for more of our children, or addressing health care costs, "we need to change things and focus on the real issues." The voters in the district, she says, "don't talk in terms of corruption" but they are "very ready for change." Also, voters are "very tired of the levies, but want good education for their young children." They don't need to read Thomas Friedman's "The World is Flat" (a book that has influenced Brady's thinking) to know that their kids need a college education to succeed in today's economy. Ten years ago, she pointed out, the state provided 2/3 of the cost of college education and the parents provided the other 1/3, but now that ratio has been reversed. Although the Iraq War is not an issue for the state legislature, Brady mentioned that it is on the minds of voters. Speaking as the mother of three boys, she told me that if one of them were drafted to go to Iraq she would have to ask, "What for?"

Brady will have her campaign kick-off fundraiser on Thursday, August 17th, from 6:00 to 8:30 pm on the patio at the Ironwood Café, 688 Dover Center Road, Westlake, OH 44145. Draft beer, soda, and appetizers will be provided and the suggested minimum donation is $50. Checks payable to "Friends of Jennifer Brady" can be mailed to Friends of Jennifer Brady, c/o Treasurer Margaret Weitzel, 3438 W. 150th, Cleveland OH 44111. (Please note on your check memo line your Employer/Occupation and/or Union Affiliation). For additional information contact Valerie at voigt_valerie-at-hotmail-dot-com or Dee at dee-at-taylormaderugs-dot-com.


At 11:23 AM, Anonymous Helen Misener said...

Way to go, Jennifer! Although I have known you somewhat through Westside Dems,I learned a whole lot about you in this article. Wish I were in your district so I could vote for you! Helen Misener


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