Gahanna-Jefferson Board of Education member Heather Bishoff hopes she will make a greater difference for Gahanna and Ohio students now that she has won her bid for the Ohio House of Representatives' 20th District seat.
Bishoff, a Blacklick Democrat, defeated Republican Nathan Burd of Reynoldsburg on Nov. 6 by a vote of 28,830 to 20,441, or 58.51 percent to 41.49 percent, according to unofficial results from the Franklin County Board of Elections.
"I decided to run ... because I care about the community I raise my family in," she said. "School funding is a divisive issue. I have an opportunity to work with as many people as possible to fix this for the community and Ohio once and for all."
Burd, co-owner of FlyComm Inc., said he wishes Bishoff well.
"I congratulate Heather for her win," he said. "I enjoy my role on Reynoldsburg City Council, and I look forward to continuing to serve my city."
Bishoff, 38, is owner/chief operating officer of The Bishoff Financial Group and has 19 years of experience in the financial industry.
She was the top vote-getter in November 2011, when she ran for school board among a field of five candidates.
Shortly after she was elected to the board, she decided to run for state representative.
"The House seat opened up, and our state (representative) was cut out of our area," she said. "It was suggested to me, 'Instead of advocating for this process, why don't you legislate for it?'"
This marks Bishoff's 13th year in the Gahanna schools, she said.
"Over the last four years, we've experienced unprecedented economic challenges," she said. "Gahanna-Jefferson had to bring a levy to the ballot. When I started that process, I worked really hard to educate the community about how great Gahanna is and what a wonderful education they provide to children of Gahanna and Jefferson Township.
"Three levies in, I learned school-aged families represent only 20 percent of the population in Gahanna and Jefferson Township. Seniors on fixed incomes were forced to choose between prescriptions, food on the table or supporting a school they care about."
Bishoff said Ohio has a broken school-funding model that has been declared unconstitutional four times.
"The first lawsuit happened over 20 years ago," she said. "Why hasn't anyone fixed it? I still care tremendously about the schools my husband and I are raising four children in. We have opportunities to fix this. Every community across Ohio has felt the divisiveness. I'll do my best. It's so important."
G-J Superintendent Francis Scruci publicly congratulated Bishoff during the Nov. 8 school board meeting.
"We look forward to having someone at the Statehouse fighting for schools," he said.
Fran Flowers, of the Gahanna-Jefferson Education Association, said Bishoff has been valued as a champion for education.
"We know you'll do a great job in this new role," Flowers said.
Bishoff's resignation from the school board is impending.
Public-information manager Michael Straughter said the board would solicit the community for resumes or letters for consideration after a formal resignation is received.
The selected individual then would be appointed to serve, traditionally, for the remainder of the term or the next election.