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Alumnus seeks second term in Ohio House
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The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law would like to keep track of alumni running for office. Those campaigning for elected office should drop a line to email@example.com with details on the office they are seeking and a way to be reached for an interview following Election Day.
A current member of the Ohio House of Representatives, Michael Stinziano ’07, is up for re-election this November.
Stinziano, a Democrat, was first elected from the 25th House District in 2010 but, because of redistricting, is running for re-election to represent the 18th House District this year. The new 18th district will include many of the same areas he currently serves, including German Village, Southern Franklin County, and Victorian Village. It also will include Bexley, Grandview Heights, Olde Towne East, and the University District.
Stinziano is the son of former state Rep. Mike Stinziano, who represented many of the same neighborhoods of Columbus from 1973 to 1995.
“Dad’s legacy was putting constituents first. ... He won many outstanding legislator awards, but the one he was most proud of was the Jefferson Award for Outstanding Public Service, during the 22 years that he served in the House,” Stinziano said. “I follow Dad’s example by providing effective, responsive service to my constituents and encourage people to call me whenever they have a problem, question, or concern with government.”
Stinziano received a bachelor’s degree in leadership studies from the University of Richmond and went on to earn a master’s degree in public administration from George Washington University. He worked for the Woodrow Wilson International Center for scholars, a think-tank for national and international issues in Washington, D.C., before returning to Columbus, where he became an attorney.
When asked about the redistricting process and how it will affect Columbus, Stinziano said, “It significantly changes the district by making the area more compact. Sixty percent of the district will be a new area that is currently represented by four different House representatives.
“However,” Stinziano emphasized, “this area is where I was born and raised, and I have a strong familiarity with the new parts of the district, including the new businesses, neighborhoods , and legislative work it entails.”
The Ohio House of Representatives has been a term-limited body since 1992, after Ohio voters approved Issue 4, an amendment to the state’s constitution limiting a representative’s stay in office to four two-year terms. If Stinziano is re-elected, it will be his second term.
“Continuing to serve in the General Assembly would help me to carry on my work championing legislation to foster small-business growth and create, retain, and sustain more good-paying jobs in Ohio,” Stinziano said.
Throughout his life, Stinziano pursued public service opportunities that allowed him to work in government at the local, state, federal, and international levels. He worked as a congressional intern in Washington; as a research assistant for two members of British Parliament; as a legal extern for the Supreme Court of Ohio; as a law clerk for the Ohio House Democratic Caucus; and as an assistant to the general counsel for Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner.
However, in reflecting on the event that changed his world view and was significant in his decision to enter the political arena, Stinziano noted that his undergraduate summer abroad experience with the British House of Commons was the defining moment.
“Lucky me! Who would ever guess that the Labour Party would call for national elections during the very summer of my internship? Unlike elections in the United States, British elections last only a few months. I thoroughly enjoyed the entire process, from researching issues for (Member of Parliament) Rosie Winterton, who now serves as Labour chief whip, to knocking on doors, and even seeing Queen Elizabeth open the new session of Parliament!”
Though Stinziano was born and raised in politics, he never thought it would be his calling or passion. “Having grown up with Dad in the Legislature, I saw both the positive and negative side of public service, both the policy and the politics,” he said. “Prior to my experience with the British Parliament, I never thought I would pursue a similar opportunity as the politics part was growing more partisan and personal.
“Yet, finding myself over the pond and experiencing another government and election system, I appreciated our system, flaws and all, and felt I actually could be very comfortable adding my voice and perspective, with the goal of making it better.”
As a current state representative, Stinziano is the ranking minority member on the House Judiciary and Ethics Committee and serves on the Insurance, Public Utilities, and State Government and Elections committees. He also serves on the eTech Ohio Commission and the Ohio Tuition Trust Authority.
While Stinziano noted that his job is different day to day, he emphasized the fact that one can always find him somewhere out in the district, meeting new business owners and constituents, thinking of ways to improve life in the community. “It’s exciting to be in this position,” he noted, “and pretty unique to the 99 House members – very few of us get to sleep in our own district every night.”
In his career thus far as a state representative, Stinziano has introduced several pieces of legislation ranging from protecting young athletes from concussions to the creation of a new economic development program in the state. In July 2011, after unanimous passage in both chambers, Ohio Gov. John Kasich signed legislation sponsored by Stinziano that would expand voting access to military and overseas voters.
But creating jobs has been the focal point of Stinziano’s first term and likely will be the next, if re-elected. “The best thing that we can do to improve the job outlook in our community is to support our local small businesses. I am working with small businesses and legislative leaders to craft legislation that will provide an income tax-credit to businesses that hire unemployed workers. I will also work with the diverse neighborhoods in the district to build job sector-specific hubs, aimed at giving each neighborhood a unique sector of the Central Ohio job market.”
Other key initiatives Stinziano considers of top priority are neighborhood safety, constituent services, reversing Ohio’s brain drain, and home foreclosure prevention.
“I’m most proud of having earned the reputation of being a pragmatic, innovative, and effective leader who gets results for our community. I know the importance of working in a bipartisan manner to find common-sense solutions to create jobs to grow Ohio’s economy and restore economic prosperity,” Stinziano said.
Stinziano and his wife, Caroline McNamee Stinziano, a certified public accountant, live in Victorian Village with their two rescue pugs. He also serves of counsel at McTigue & McGinnis LLC. The firm concentrates in Ohio election and campaign finance, and its clients include candidates for public office, political action committees, ballot issue groups, corporations, labor organizations, public officials, and governmental bodies in Ohio.
But on the weekends, like many Ohio State alumni, Stinziano enjoys college sports, passionately following the Ohio State Buckeyes. He blames law school for not reading as many books as he likes, though he attributes much of his political success to his time at Moritz as well.
“The Legislation Clinic with Professors (Douglas) Berman & (Terry) Enns provided an incredible network that I did not previously have – I still see some of the people I met during the clinic, some every day, who still remember me from the brief time I was in the clinic. It was also through the clinic that I was able to see and to learn firsthand what kind of legislator I wanted to be. And most importantly, I was able to learn what the issues of the day were. It was eye-opening. I was in the clinic during a competitive election time, with transitions going on, lots of proposals, lots of action.”
Stinziano’s success as state representative has earned him significant recognition within Ohio. The Ohio Association of Election Officials recognized him as the 2011 Democratic Legislator of the Year. In April 2012, he also was named to “Forty Under 40,” an award given by Columbus Business First, that recognizes 40 individuals under age 40 who have gone above and beyond the call of duty in community involvement and professional achievement.
“I am passionate about working closely with people to help significantly improve their lives. Working together, we can overcome the obstacles that face us today to build a better, brighter future for all Ohioans,” Stinziano said.
This article was written by Callie Broomfield.