Incumbent Dorothy Pelanda is seeking to retain her seat in the Ohio House of Representatives 86th District. She is being challenged in the May 6 Republican primary by longtime Marysville City Councilman Dan Fogt.
Pelanda is seeking her second full term in the Ohio House.
Pelanda, 58, graduated from Marysville High School in 1974, Miami University in 1978 and the University of Akron School of Law in 1981.
She spent 31 years practicing domestic relations law and was a partner in the law firm of Liggett-Pelanda Co.
In July 2011, she was appointed to replace state Rep. David Burke, who was tapped to fill the seat of state Sen. Karen Gillmor after Gillmor resigned. Pelanda was elected to her first full term in November 2012.
Pelanda served on the Marysville Charter Review Committee in 1988. She has twice served as president of the Marysville Library Board, is a two-term president of U-Co Industries and has served on the Union County Public Law Library Board of Trustees.
Pelanda is married to Sam Gerhardstein, who works as director of governmental affairs for Columbia Gas of Ohio. They live in Allen Township. From previous marriages, they have five grown children and a granddaughter.
Pelanda said she is running for re-election because she is devoted to serving her community.
"My education, my experience as a small-business owner for over 23 years and my 31/2 years now as a state legislator make me the most qualified candidate for this job," she said.
"The No. 1 issue is jobs and job creation. Four years ago, Ohio -- under democratic leadership -- was 47th in job creation. Today, we are second in the nation for job creation and expansion," Pelanda said.
"The state government needs to continually seek to employ private-sector best practices. As a small-business owner, I have a unique understanding of how legislation can stifle a business ... (and) what needs to be done in terms of reducing and simplifying taxation."
Pelanda said the ability to compromise separates her from her opponent.
"The No. 1 thing a freshman legislator must do is build relationships within the community they represent and with the legislature, with those that have been there," she said. "Compromise is essential."
Pelanda disputed Fogt's claim she is influenced by lobbyists.
"That's a blind assertion for which he has no basis in fact," she said.
"Certain industries will have lobbyists who have a long institutional history, who are there to provide you with information," Pelanda said.
"The very first question I ask every lobbyist is, 'What is the other side going to say?' And a good lobbyist will tell you the other side."
Pelanda, unlike Fogt, supports House Bill 5. HB 5 is a business-backed bill designed to simplify Ohio's municipal income-tax system, but many city officials worry it will cut revenue. It passed the House in November and is in committee in the state Senate.
"There are only nine other states that have municipal income taxes. HB 5 is a way of simplifying the tax process, and it is supported by a number of business organizations which include the Ohio Chamber of Commerce," Pelanda said.
"It is a way of making it uniform to file throughout the state. There are 600 municipalities collecting income tax.
"What a complex system that is for a business," she said. "It's a tall barrier. It discourages business owners from setting up shop in Ohio," she said.
"I believe HB5 is good for business, and I voted for it because I voted for jobs."