State Rep. Theresa Gavarone

Gavarone selected to fill state senate seat vacated by Gardner

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News In a couple days, State Rep. Theresa Gavarone from Bowling Green will become a state senator. A screening committee of Republican senators selected Gavarone today to fill Ohio’s 2nd State Senate District seat that was vacated last month when Randy Gardner was appointed the state’s chancellor of higher education. Gavarone expects to be sworn into the Senate seat on Wednesday. “I’m pretty excited,” she said this afternoon. “I’m going to approach my Senate position the way I did in the House,” Gavarone said. Though instead of representing just Wood County, she will now represent four more – Erie, Ottawa and parts of Lucas and Fulton counties. With Gavarone’s appointment announced today, that poses the next question of who will fill her seat in the Ohio House. The process will be similar, with the Speaker of the House selecting a screening committee which will then take applications for the seat. In the Senate, Gavarone hopes to keeping working on issues she has been focusing on in the House, such as drug addiction issues, mental health and access to health care. But now she expects to add water quality to the list since her district will now border Lake Erie. “I certainly want to continue with Randy Gardner’s good work – working on solutions for Lake Erie that have a real impact,” she said. The 2nd Senate District covers a much larger geographic area, with about 380,000 residents. Gavarone said she understands it takes about two hours to drive from one end of the district to the other. “I’ll find out real soon,” she said. Though her district will be much larger, Gavarone said she is up to the challenge. “Wood County seemed so large when I started in the House,” she said. But she made an effort to get to every corner of the county. “I’m going to take the same approach with the Senate,” Gavarone said. “I want to get to know the people and the issues, and do my best to represent them.” “I’m really looking forward to the opportunity to serve a larger group of people, and can’t wait to get to it,” she said. The Senate seat comes with a four-year term, but Gavarone will have to run for the position in 2020, when Gardner’s seat would have been up for election. Prior to joining the legislature, Gavarone served on the Bowling Green City Council. While on city council, she was chair of the Public Lands and Buildings Committee and served on the Finance and Ways and Means Committee as well as the Planning, Zoning and Economic Development Committee. Gavarone is an attorney and co-owner of a family business, Mr. Spots, with her husband Jim. She holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Bowling Green State University and a law degree from the University of Toledo College of Law.

Aidan Hubbell-Staeble responds to GOP mailer about old Facebook posts

Aidan Hubbell-Staeble, candidate for Ohio House District 3, released the following statement Tuesday, Oct. 9, after his opponent, Theresa Gavarone, publicized old social media posts addressing the issue of community police relations in Ohio: “A couple of years ago, I took to Facebook to describe the shooting of two individuals, Alton Sterling and Daniel Shaver, as unacceptable. Although the original post was incendiary and insensitive, the feelings that led to the post came from a meaningful place of anger and frustration. Time and time again, we are presented with videos and reports of unarmed or nonthreatening men and women losing their lives due to the actions of the very people who have vowed to protect them. It is very easy to get caught up in the hostile nature of social media and the hundreds of videos that look not too different from these. “The resurgence of these now-deleted posts has allowed me to reflect on my feelings from that time and revisit both videos shared in the posts. Both videos depict the death of these young men, not too far in age from myself, and still invoke some of those original feelings.  “However, instead of anger, I now feel passion. Instead of frustration, I now feel a responsibility to act. We are raised to believe that if we see an injustice, if we want a change, we need to take action to address it. That is why I’m running for public office. I want to be part of the change we need in Columbus. “I’m not your typical candidate. I don’t resemble many of the people you currently see in the State House; and that’s precisely the point. I’m running to amplify the voice of my neighbors, my friends, and my family. Police officers are important to our community and vital to our safety. When bad police officers are not held accountable for their actions, it erodes trust in the judicial system and makes it harder for good police officers to do their jobs. Our police risk their lives every day to protect us, and they too are taken for granted. We have seen Republican politicians attack police officers’ collective bargaining rights in the past, and will likely see more of the same in the future. This is not how any workers, especially those who are so dedicated to defending the State of Ohio, should be treated. I’m proud to keep fighting for all everyday Ohioans.”

Lawmakers quizzed on Lake Erie, school testing, gas taxes

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   When local officials had a chance to quiz their state legislators Wednesday, there were more questions than time for answers. Lawmakers were asked about some hot button issues like Lake Erie efforts, school testing, gas taxes, and the state’s growing rainy day fund. Fielding the questions were State Senator Randy Gardner and State Rep. Theresa Gavarone, both R-Bowling Green, plus Ohio state representatives Jim Hoops, Derek Merrin, Mike Sheehy, and Michigan state representative Jason Sheppard. Asking the questions were members of the Toledo Metropolitan Area Council of Governments, during the organization’s summer caucuses with state lawmakers at Penta Career Center. Acting as moderator was Wood County Commissioner Doris Herringshaw, current chairperson of TMACOG. Tim Brown, executive director of TMACOG, said the agency has a 50-year history of going beyond politics to solve problems. “We lay the politics aside, put the partisanship at the door, and talk,” Brown said. The first question was about state efforts to stop harmful algal blooms in Lake Erie. While actions already taken have been appreciated, the local officials wanted to know “What’s next?” Gardner acknowledged that the work on Lake Erie is far from over. “There is no misunderstanding that we’ve done all that we can do,” he said. “We can find a way to do more and do better. We must.” Gardner said he hasn’t given up on a proposal to create a clean water bond issue. “Quite frankly, we haven’t received strong support from the governor to go forward,” he said. But Gardner is hopeful the bond issue can be revisited next year. Sheehy said environmental groups are “tired of failure” as the state struggles to find solutions. “We’ve all been saying this a long time. More needs to be done.” School officials asked about state testing requirements for students. Gavarone said testing requirements have been reduced, but more needs to be done to get timely feedback to teachers and parents, so they know how to help students. Gardner added that any testing requirements that aren’t federally mandated need to be reviewed. “They should be questioned and scrutinized as to their value,” he said. The legislators were asked about the state’s role in helping with workforce development. While Merrin said it isn’t the state legislature’s job to help create workforces, Gavarone and Gardner both offered other perspectives. Gavarone said students should be exposed to construction trades early on. “Kids need to be aware of the multitude of paths available to them after graduation,” she said. Gardner agreed that four-year colleges are just one option for Ohio’s youth. “I’m for an all-of-the-above education policy,” he said, noting the quality apprenticeship and training programs in the region. However, Gardner also said that four-year degrees still offer students the best long-run success. He suggested that the audience Google to find unemployment rates based on higher education. “You will still see the unemployment rate go down and the wages go up,” with higher degrees, he said. “We owe our children to give them the best opportunities.” Local officials also wanted to know when state leaders are going to share in some of the wealth of the state’s growing rainy day fund. Gardner said he considers local government to be an extension of state government. “We should look at what…

State grants $1.6 million for new senior center in BG

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The news was worth a brief delay in the country fried steak as the lunch hour approached Monday at the Wood County Senior Center. “We’re smart enough to know to not get in the way of lunch,” State Senator Randy Gardner said to the seniors as he made the big announcement. The new senior center in Bowling Green will be getting $1.6 million from the state, secured by Gardner and State Rep. Theresa Gavarone, both R-Bowling Green. That amount is the largest state capital bill grant awarded in Bowling Green since at least 1992, Gardner said. “Wood County does a lot of things well. This is one of the hallmarks of Wood County,” Gardner said about the county’s senior agency. “This is one of the best organizations in the entire county.” “I am so thrilled to be in a position to work for you this way,” Gavarone told the seniors gathered for lunch. “It’s going t be a tremendous benefit to all of Wood County.” Other community projects in Bowling Green are also in line for capital bill funding. The Cocoon Shelter will receive $375,000 to help protect women and children from the dangers of domestic violence and sexual abuse. Two years ago, the Cocoon was given an $800,000 grant, adding up to $1.175 million in the last two capital budgets. The BGSU Forensic Program will be getting a $200,000 grant to help enhance the BCII Crime Lab’s forensic academic programs. The announcement of the senior center funding will help move along the proposed construction of the new facility in Bowling Green. “We are very, very excited,” said Denise Niese, executive director of the Wood County Committee on Aging. Last year, the City of Bowling Green gave 2.35 acres at 140 S. Grove St., to the Committee on Aging for a new building. The seniors had outgrown the existing building – which was considered state-of-the-art when the agency first moved in more than 35 years ago. After the land had been given to the Committee on Aging, the board set a stipulation that ground can’t be broken until the board has secured at least two-thirds of the dollars needed. At that point, Niese predicted it will be a three- to five-year process to complete a new senior center. But Monday’s announcement of the state funding has moved up the timeline, Niese said. “This moves us forward,” she said. “I would like to break ground a year from now.” Ben Batey, president of the Wood County Committee on Aging Board, said the total projected cost for the new senior center will be $4 million. “There’s still work to be done on a capital campaign,” he said. The goal is for that campaign to bring in between $800,000 and $1 million during the next eight months. The committee will then go through the Wood County Commissioners to finance the remainder of the project. “We all know our aging population continues to increase,” Batey said. “The elderly population is only going to continue to get larger, and we have to accommodate them.” The current senior center, constructed in 1913, was formerly the city’s post office. The structure did not keep up with the needs of its patrons. There are too many stairs, not enough parking,…

State legislators listen to some local concerns

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   State Sen. Randy Gardner and State Rep. Theresa Gavarone on Thursday talked about legislation aimed at school funding, violent criminals, drug trafficking, communication disabilities, and abandoned wells. All are efforts to make life better for Ohioans. But some local citizens wanted to know when the next cut in state funding was going to hit. Why was the state taking a share of municipal business income taxes? When can local governments expect state funding to be decreased again? And why are legislators focusing on issues that affect a small number of individuals when they ought to be tackling the big issues of education, health care, jobs and the economy? Gardner and Gavarone met with members of the Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce on Thursday to present a legislative update. “Some of our best suggestions come from meetings like this,” Gardner said. First, the state legislators talked about some of their successes this past year: School funding on a smaller scale Senate Bill 8 allows school districts to get up to $1 million in state funding for items such as technology expenses, roof repairs, school safety or adding a classroom. The legislature is designed to help districts – like Bowling Green – which are too wealthy to get much state help for major building projects, Gardner said. Districts are not likely to participate in the school facilities funding program if the state share is 20 percent or less. “For those kind of districts, they’re not likely to accept the strings attached,” Gardner said. So this bill allows districts to access state funds for smaller expenses. “It is now law and available to school districts,” Gardner said. “A district like Bowling Green may be a strong candidate some day.” Sierah’s Law Senate Bill 231 was made into law after Sierah Joughin, a college student from Metamora, was murdered in 2016 by a man who had committed similar crimes in the past. The bill puts into place a law enforcement data base of people convicted of kidnapping and other violent crimes. Ohioans have long been able to find out if sex offenders live near them, but there has been no such data base for violent felons. “If law enforcement doesn’t know, the public doesn’t know,” Gardner said. “Sometimes minutes or hours matter.” Communicating for those unable to themselves House Bill 115 came about after a Walbridge woman shared with Gavarone concerns about her son who has autism and is able to drive. She worried that if her son was pulled over by law enforcement he might not respond appropriately to the officer. So the legislation sets up a voluntary registry for people who have communication disabilities. The confidential data base would alert law enforcement if they pull someone over with problems communicating, Gavarone explained. Giving addicts a better chance to quit House Bill 296 would increase the level of the offense for people trafficking drugs near a drug rehabilitation center. Gavarone said the legislation came about after a discussion with Wood County Prosecuting Attorney Paul Dobson. “Drug traffickers know their market,” so they see rehab facilities as ripe with potential customers, she said.  This change would give addicts trying to kick their habits a better chance to succeed. “When people take that step,” they are most…