Democrat Kent Smith, 55, of Euclid, is running for Ohio Senate in District 21 against Republican Mikhail Alterman on Nov. 8.
This district includes several eastern Cleveland suburbs, including Beachwood, Euclid, East Cleveland, Cleveland Heights, Garfield Heights, Highland Heights, Lyndhurst, Maple Heights, South Euclid, Shaker Heights and Warrensville Heights.
Smith, who is currently serving as state representative for District 8, received a bachelor’s degree from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, and a Master’s of Urban Science degree from Cleveland State University. His current district is made up of Euclid, South Euclid, Richmond Heights, Beachwood, East Cleveland, Woodmere and Cleveland’s Ward 10. He was elected in 2014 and re-elected in 2016, 2018 and 2020.
With his background in Ohio politics, Smith told the Cleveland Jewish News that he is “well-suited for the issues that the state of Ohio deals with.” The “strongest part” of his past political experiences include being a member of the General Assembly for eight years, as well as working as a Ph.D. student in economic development at Cleveland State University and serving on the Euclid Board of Education from 2002 to 2013.
“I’ve got some specialized public policy knowledge that is relevant to the issues and government policy,” said Smith.
Smith said voters should choose him in November because he plans to fight the district maps that are currently in place. The maps were enacted by the Ohio Redistricting Committee in March. The maps were then ruled unconstitutional in July by the Ohio Supreme Court but still had to be used for the 2022 election cycle.
“The map we’re operating under for the November 2022 election is worse (than before),” Smith said. “Cuyahoga County is going down from three senate seats to two, and the state is so down the middle. The county gave (President Joe Biden) his biggest win, but the drawers saw Franklin County had more people than Cuyahoga, and added a seat down there instead. And that is a toss-up. One of the worst outcomes of the redistricting was losing that seat.”
But “the good news,” Smith said, is he believes he can replace Sandra Williams’ legislative skills “almost exactly.” Democrat Williams represented District 21 until she stepped down in June and was replaced by Democrat Dale Martin, who isn’t running for re-election.
“I am pragmatic and advocate for the issues in our communities, but I can also work across the aisle,” Smith said. “That can get things done.”
Smith said he hopes voters will consider him for the four principles “that guide my legislative work” – that “we all do better when we all do better”; “all of Ohio’s children today are our future tomorrow”; “Ohio’s future economy is based on equal parts innovation and opportunity”; and that he will “show up and do the work.”
“I will fight for those who send me to Columbus,” he said. “The proof of that is I am in my fourth term. In three of those four terms, I have never missed a floor vote. You have to be there and I will be. That’s just how I operate.”