The leader of Democrats in the Ohio Senate is stepping down but he’ll be replaced with a familiar face.
Senate Minority Leader Joe Schiavoni of the Youngstown area says he’s stepping down so he can devote the time necessary to run to be his party’s nominee for Governor in 2018. He’s among three announced Democratic candidates right now.
“You know when you look at all of the campaign work that needs to be done in order to run for Governor, it can be overwhelming," Schiavoni says. "And I don’t want to shortchange the caucus and all of the candidate recruitment that has to occur and all of the fundraising that has to happen that I’ve done for the last three years. You can’t do both of those at the same time and be good at both of them.”
Schiavoni has led Ohio’s Senate Democrats for the past three years, during which Democrats have been outnumbered by Republicans two-to-one. Schiavoni will be replaced by Senator Kenny Yuko of Richmond Heights near Cleveland.
Yuko says he’s looking forward to the task and will focus on job creation, improving education, dealing with the opioid crisis and improving health care. And he says he intends to work with majority Republicans on those issues.
“I’ve made an entire career as an adult out of working with the other side of the table, so to speak," Yuko says. "As a labor leader, I always had to work with management. Otherwise, what would happen is you’d be naming a street after me and calling it One Way. And we don’t want that to happen. So we need to make sure we work with our friends on the other side of the aisle. We will do that.”
In a written statement, Republican Senate President Larry Obhof congratulated Yuko and said the GOP’s caucus has been inspired by Yuko’s character and determination in taking on tough challenges.
Yuko, who represents part of Cuyahoga and Lake counties, has been in the legislature since 2005, first as a representative and then, as a senator, in 2015. He will take over as the Senate’s highest ranking Democrat on April 26, the date of the next senate session.