By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN
BG Independent News
Haraz Ghanbari, of Perrysburg, has been named as Wood County’s state representative, replacing Theresa Gavarone.
Accompanied by his wife, Kim, daughter and son, who was asleep on his shoulder, Ghanbari was sworn in this afternoon by House Speaker Larry Householder.
Ghanbari, a member of Perrysburg City Council, is a public affairs officer for the U.S. Navy Reserves, and has a bachelor’s degree in visual journalism from Kent State University. In July, 2016, Ghanbari applied to fill the house seat when it was vacated by Tim Brown, when he became executive director of TMACOG. Gavarone was appointed at that time.
In introducing him to the House chamber, State Rep. Bill Seitz said Ghanbari is “extremely qualified to join us in the chamber.”
He is a first generation U.S. citizen, with his parents immigrating here from Iran. He has served in the U.S. Army and Navy, serving a period in Afghanistan.
Selecting a person to fill Wood County’s state representative seat proved to be more difficult than originally planned – taking seven weeks. There were reportedly very strong opposing opinions on who should fill the vacancy.
Jon Jakubowski, head of the Wood County Republican Party, agreed this afternoon that the selection process reflected some strong feelings.
Ghanbari is an outspoken member of Perrysburg City Council, Jakubowski said.
“It can be expected that some people would not like that,” he said.
However, Jakubowski said Ghanbari is a good selection who went through a “pretty significant vetting process.”
Ghanbari beat out a field of eight other applicants.
“I know we waited for a long time to get here,” Jakubowski said, referring to the delay in the selection. But the delay was partially due to the “high caliber of the candidates who applied.”
“As a citizen of Wood County, we should be excited about that. It made the decision really hard,” he said.
The Ohio House seat became vacant on Feb. 6, when former State Rep. Theresa Gavarone, R-Bowling Green, was sworn in to take the Ohio Senate 2nd District seat. That Senate seat became empty after former State Senator Randy Gardner, R-Bowling Green, was asked by Gov. Mike DeWine to fill the role of chancellor of higher education.
After Gavarone was selected to move up to the Senate, a call was put out for all Wood County Republicans interested in the vacant House seat.
Nine applied by the Feb. 15 deadline. A committee of Ohio House members was named to review the applicants. And a decision was supposed to be announced on Feb. 22.
The nine were reportedly narrowed down to three – Ghanbari, Northwood Mayor Ed Schimmel and Rossford Board of Education member Tiffany Densic.
But the House seat remained empty until more than a month later.
One member of the screening committee for the replacement said the selection process required time.
“It’s been a very thorough process with a lot of good candidates,” State Rep. Derek Merrin, R-Sylvania, said earlier this month.
Merrin said the characterization of the process as taking longer than expected was not accurate.
“This is a very important decision,” he said. “We want to make sure we get the right person for Wood County and for the state.”
Whoever was named to the seat will have to run to retain the position in the 2020 election.
The selection was made by members of a screening committee, including Rep. Derek Merrin, R-Sylvania; Bob Cupp, R-Lima; John Cross, R-Kenton; and Tracy Richardson, R-Marysville.
The nine Wood County residents who applied for the position were:
- Matthew Beegle – A quality technician at the manufacturing plant Cascade Corporation in Findlay. He is also president of the North Baltimore Village Council. He has both an associate’s and bachelor’s degree in business from the University of Phoenix.
- John E. Clemons – of Northwood.
- Tiffany Densic – Currently a member of the Rossford Exempted Village School District Board, Densic also works for Ayers Wealth Management LLC in Perrysburg. She has training in the insurance industry and court reporting.
- Haraz Ghanbari – Currently a member of Perrysburg City Council, he also is public affairs officer for the United States Navy Reserve. He has a bachelor’s degree in visual journalism from Kent State University.
- Sue Larimer – Currently a member of the Perrysburg School Board, she ran for the State Board of Education in 2018. She has a bachelor’s degree in elementary science from the University of Toledo and a master’s in teaching and curriculum from Lourdes University.
- Peter Range – Currently he is director of the Office for Life and Justice of the Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Toledo and host of the radio program “Say Yes to Life.” He has a bachelor’s degree in history from John Carroll University and a master’s in theology from the University of Notre Dame.
- Edward Schimmel – Currently mayor of the city of Northwood, Schimmel also is an attorney with his own law practice and a farmer.
- Mark Tolles – An attorney in Grand Rapids, Tolles has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Toledo and a law degree from the University of Toledo College of Law. He is an Otsego Board of Education member.
- Kathy Wojcicki – from Bradner, was most recently a commander and senior network engineer with the Naval Installation Command in Millington, Tennessee. She has a bachelor’s degree from Bowling Green State University and a number of other technical and occupational certificates.