In January, longtime Marysville Mayor Tom Kruse walked away from politics, turning the reins of city government over to Chris Schmenk.

In January, longtime Marysville Mayor Tom Kruse walked away from politics, turning the reins of city government over to Chris Schmenk.

Little did he know that six months later he would be back on the campaign trail.

"I'm not sitting around doing nothing," said Kruse, a Democrat who faces an uphill battle against incumbent Republican Karen Gillmor in the race for the 26th District State Senate seat.

The 26th District includes Union, Logan, Marion, Crawford, Wyandot, and Sandusky counties as well as parts of Ottawa and Seneca counties.

In fact, Kruse is busier than ever, knocking on doors in all eight of the counties that make up the 26th District.

"I've been to every one of them several times already," he said.

Kruse said he is hearing a common theme on the campaign trail.

"What I'm hearing is by and large, people want change," he said. "That has been my theme for a long time. It's not original with Obama. He didn't get it from me but we do need change."

If elected, Kruse said he will focus on the state's most pressing issues, including school funding and health care.

"Those issues are just killing our older people," he said. "They can't afford their health care so they are making a choice between health care and eating."

He said there are a number of alternatives for solving the state's school funding and that he would favor a solution "based on your ability to pay."

He said the current property tax system is subjective.

"Our elderly people may have their homes paid for but they are having trouble keeping them because of the property taxes," he said.

Kruse served in the U.S. Army Security Agency, worked for nearly a decade at Cincinnati Bell Telephone, and as a deputy director of Industrial Relations for the State of Ohio.

In 1975, he started a full service building services company that employed 300 full-time associates when he sold it to his son in 2000.

Kruse was elected to one term on Marysville City Council and served a total of three terms as mayor. He has also served on the Marysville Board of Zoning Appeals and on Marysville's Charter Review Commission.

Kruse was appointed to the Governor's Committee for Employment of the Handicapped and to the Interagency Committee for Child Development. He has also served on the board of the Union, Madison, and Delaware Community Action Agency, the ADAMH board in Union County, and has been a board member of the Union County Chamber of Commerce. He was recently appointed to the board of the Union County Family YMCA.

Kruse said he stepped down from the Marysville mayor's office because the time was right.

"I don't think you should take the jobs for life," he said. "I served two terms in a row and I came to that conclusion at that time. But, in the intervening eight years, things got pretty bad. Then a group of people came to me and asked if I would be willing to run again and I eventually did. I think we moved the city forward, but this time I knew it was time."

Kruse said he twice rejected overtures from the Democratic Party before deciding to enter the 26th District race.

"I wasn't going to do it," he said. "I told them no twice, then I had another meeting and the governor's chief of staff was there. I told him I needed a week to think about it. I was still going to say no, but my wife said she thought I was making a mistake. She said 'I've never interfered with your political life for 45 years but I think you're making a mistake. This is who you are and what you do.' She has a great deal of influence, so, here I am."

Kruse said that while he is confident he can give Gillmor a run for her money, he knows it will be an uphill battle.

"I'm guessing that she will probably outspend me but I can assure you she won't outwork me," he said. "My goal is to meet more people than she does. If I do that, I'll win."

Tom Kruse