Political Party: Democrat
Office sought: Lake County Commissioner
Place of birth: Cleveland
Home address: 5428 Pinehill Drive, Mentor-on-the-Lake OH 44060
Length of residence in that community: 34 years
Campaign website?: www.friendsofrogers.com/
Occupation: State Representative – 60th H.D., State of Ohio – 133rd General Assembly, Executive Director – Lake County Land Reutilization Corporation, Attorney at Law – self-employed
Employer: State of Ohio, Lake County Land Reutilization Corporation
Elected office experience: I am currently serving my fourth term as the State Representative for the 60th House District serving the Lake County communities of Eastlake, Grand River, Fairport Harbor, Lakeline, Mentor (Ward – 4), Mentor-on-the-Lake, Painesville, Painesville Township (Precincts J and part of D ), Timberlake, Wickliffe, Willoughby and Willowick. I am the ranking minority member on the House Ways and Means Committee in addition to being a member of the House Criminal Justice Committee, Criminal Justice Sub-committee on Criminal Sentencing, the Finance Committee, and the Public Utilities Committee. In previous terms I also served as the ranking minority member of the State and Local Government Committee. Today I am the only minority member from the House of Representatives serving on the Tax Expenditure Review Committee and the recently concluded Regional Economic Development Alliance Study Committee. Other duties include serving as a member of the Ohio Tuition Trust Authority’s Investment Advisory Board, responsible for the oversight of more than 650,000 college savings accounts with more than 11 billion dollars of assets under management, the Ohio Dentist Loan Repayment Program Board with oversight of the Ohio Dentist and Dental Hygienist Loan Repayment Programs – created in an effort to increase access to dental care for underserved communities and populations, and the Governor’s EXPO 2050 Task Force to help develop and recommend a long-term vision for the Ohio Expo Center, an event venue in Columbus that is home to the Ohio State Fair, as well as nearby attractions including the Ohio History Connection and the current MAPFRE Stadium. More recently, I was appointed by the Speaker to a committee created to review the Cupp-Patterson legislation introduced to address the unconstitutional and inequitable school funding formula in Ohio.
As an Ohio legislator, I am a member of the Great Lakes Legislative Caucus. The makeup of this body includes representatives from Canada and the United States charged with the responsibility of reviewing and proposing policy to ensure the protection of our great lakes and clean water well in to the future.
Prior to serving in the Ohio Legislature, I served as Mentor-on-the Lake’s Mayor and Safety Director for 19 plus years. Prior to my election as Mayor, I served an 5 years on City Council, chairing the Finance Committee. While I was the Mayor, our Fire Department’s operations were restructured to ensure that properly trained personnel were available to deliver appropriate and timely medical care, while reducing response times significantly, without having to increase taxes. Our Police Department was nationally recognized by CALEA or the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies on five separate occasions. The City also saw a significant expansion in the number of small businesses locating to the community along with the inflow of millions of dollars in grants to address major infrastructure needs.
Non-elected office experience (boards, etc.): As Deputy Treasurer with the County, my duties involved the collection of delinquent taxes and the opportunity to create the Lake County Land Reutilization Corporation (Land Bank). Now serving as its Executive Director, this not-for-profit corporation promotes economic development by acquiring, holding and managing properties pending reclamation, rehabilitation and reutilization. If necessary, vacant deteriorated structures are demolished.
The Land Bank’s proactive approach benefits everyone. Projects included building the Jack Crislip Park in the north end of Painesville Twp., renovating homes for income qualified buyers; collaborations to demolish the Merrick-Hutchison Elementary School in Grand River, the Crossroads accessory buildings in Painesville Twp., the former rectory and convent at St. Mary Magdalene Parish in Willowick, the former Holiday Inn, public parking garage and the Coe Manufacturing office building in Painesville. More recently, an Ohio Abandoned Gas Station Cleanup Grant funded the removal and environmental remediation of the former Madison Beverage Gas Station in Madison.
While we assist communities with eliminating blighted structures, our operations are not the responsibility of taxpayers. At year’s end, we will have returned 96 parcels to productive use with many paying property taxes that benefit our safety forces, schools, libraries, local governments and other taxing entities.
After I built my home in Mentor-on-the-Lake, I was appointed to the City’s Planning and Zoning Commission, Board of Zoning Appeals and served briefly on the Civil Service Commission. While serving in government and furthering my education, I was an industrial sales engineer for 23 years, calling on industries throughout Ohio and Michigan. During the last five years in business, I gained tremendous experience successfully operating my own manufacturer’s representative and distribution organization.
While Mayor of Mentor-on-the-Lake, I was also an assistant prosecuting attorney in the Lake County Prosecutor’s Office. There, I supervised the Delinquent Real Estate Tax and Collections Division (DTAC) with responsibilities representing the Treasurer in foreclosure and bankruptcy litigation. My collections resolved and/or recovered delinquent taxes well above amounts collected in prior years. Additional responsibilities included collections on behalf of the Clerk of Courts, County Engineer, Department of Utilities, and the MRDD Board. In the same capacity, I represented the Department of Job and Family Services in guardianship proceedings held in Probate Court.
In my earlier years, I prosecuted cases involving child support, juvenile delinquencies and felony crimes. A personal highlight was supervising the Juvenile Division for approximately five years, during which time I was recognized as the Child Advocate of the Year by the Lake County Foster Family Association, the Department of Job and Family Services and the Lake County Commissioners.
Education: University of Alabama School of Law, Tuscaloosa AL, Class of 2013, Master of Law in Taxation (LLM)
Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, Cleveland OH, Class of 2002, Juris Doctor (JD)
John Carroll University, Bohler College of Business, University Heights OH, Class of 1993, Master of Business Administration (MBA)
Hiram College, Hiram OH, Class of 1982 , Bachelor of Arts (BA), chemistry major
Cuyahoga Community College, Cleveland OH, 1975-1978, Associate of Arts (AA) & an Associate of Science (AS)
Cathedral Latin School, Cleveland OH, Class of 1975, Diploma, college prep
Marital status and name of spouse: Married, 35 years, Rosemarie (Dougherty)
Do you have children?: Yes. Timothy, married to Angela, John, married to Samantha, Caitlin married to Justin and Micheal
Organizations?: I am a member of St. John Vianney Parish, the National Council of State Governments, the Benevolent Protective Order of Elks Painesville Lodge #549, the Buckeye Sheriffs Association, the Lake County Fraternal Order of Police Associates Lodge 25, the American Bar Association, the Ohio State Bar Association, the Lake County Bar Association, Sons of AMVET’s Post 109, the National Institute for Trial Advocacy, the NAACP, the Lake County Township Trustees Association and the Ohio Farm Bureau. I currently serve as a Vice-president on the Executive Board of the Lake County Blue Coats, and previously served as the vice president of the Lake County Mayors and City Managers Association. More recently I completed 10 years of service on the Executive Board of the Lake County Bar Association, including as the Bar Association’s Immediate Past-President and finishing as a member of the nominating committee. Finally, during both the 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 academic years, I volunteered as a legal advisor/coach to the Lake Catholic High School Mock Trial Team.
Should you be elected, what are three specific areas you’d like to change, address, improve or further research, and how specifically would you go about it?: 1) With the global pandemic and economic downturn significantly affecting finances, the county has also seen revenue losses. While unemployment rates are improving, community tax revenues remain low. Reduced disposable income results in lower sales taxes, hotel/bed taxes and other revenue sources. In 2021, the county’s estimated revenues are expected to be down by 10 percent.
The now infamous House Bill 6 created energy tax credits for those who generate 5 megawatts or more of clean energy; electricity produced without emitting hydrocarbons into the air. The loss of trust and allegations of criminal behavior at the highest levels have become the basis of efforts to repeal this legislation. Indeed, repeal legislation has been introduced and the State’s Attorney General has filed a lawsuit to prevent the credits from being distributed in January.
Should repeal legislation without a replacement occur, the County and its many taxing entities will see a significant loss of revenue affecting services, schools, first responders, and many small businesses. It is imperative that local and county elected officials, together with department heads, begin to examine priorities and create plans to ensure constituent needs continue to be met.
2) Approximately 30-35% of the individuals incarcerated in the county’s jail have pre-existing psychiatric or psychological conditions. Untreated, these can be an underlying factor leading of criminal behavior. Whereas in jail, the individual is treated and stabilized before release, tragically, after release, many individuals wait a significant period of time for follow-up care.
Once released, the inability of seeing care providers may result again in medicinal non-compliance or a return to substance abuse, leading to a continued cycle; crime, incarceration, treatment and when released, again waiting for further treatment. Taxpayer dollars would be better spent helping people resolve mental health issues with seamless post release care ending this negative cycle.
3) Lake County is a manufacturing powerhouse. The last Transportation Budget earmarked extensive funding for public transportation infrastructure. Improvements, such as Laketran’s new routes, offer many people with access to transportation to and from work. Organizations such as the Alliance for Working Together and programs offered locally by Lakeland, Auburn Career Center, the School for Innovation and others, prepare future employees with the skills to work in manufacturing or elsewhere. Similarly, apprenticeship programs are available in the skilled trades.
There are a tremendous number of people, who with the right guidance and mentoring, could find more employment opportunities in manufacturing or the trades. Expanding programs with financial incentives or grants would create an even greater impetus for individual successes. My experiences naturally lend to my abilities to spearhead initiatives like these. I am solutions oriented.
Whether for past accomplishments or future goals, why should voters elect you?: Moving forward, Lake County faces a number of challenges financially and otherwise. A commissioner’s role is to work with all entities at both the State and local levels to ensure that we leverage tax payer dollars, state and federal funds in such a way as to help avoid increasing the burden on working families. My experiences in the private sector, the not-for-profit sector and in the public sector – both again in the legislature and locally, have afforded me a perspective and a level of expertise for addressing the issues of the day here in Lake County that substantially differ from other candidates.
My background brings to the table managerial experience, a keen understanding of finances and budgeting, together with an intricate knowledge of the law, including tax law, all of which enable me to perform the duties of the County Commissioner which include government taxing, budgeting, appropriations, purchasing authority, holding hearings and issuing rulings on annexations, drainage improvements, water and waste water considerations, board appointments and a host of other considerations. I have a demonstrated history of solving complex problems with viable new solutions
My focus has been to work together with my colleagues on both sides of the isle to address the issues of the day. My continued belief is that working with others is essential, regardless of party, because our constituents expect no less. Finding common ground forms the basis of success. Working together makes common sense and it can and does work!
I promise that if elected, I will continue to work hard as I have always done, to address the issues that affect Lake County, and to use common sense when solving problems. I will do everything in my power to make Lake County and its communities an even better place in which to live, to work and to raise our families. Making a difference while helping others has been a personal goal my entire career in public service.