Turnover in Ohio General Assembly Brings New & Old Players to the Statehouse

This General Assembly has seen a number of new faces along with some returning faces join the Ohio General Assembly this past year, not only due to last year’s election, but through appointments for open Ohio House and Ohio Senate seats due to resignations. We thought we would take the opportunity to highlight the 12 members who have been appointed to the Ohio House of Representatives and the Ohio Senate.

Ohio House of Representatives

State Representative Mark Fraizer is the most recent appointment for the 71st House District, Rep. Fraizer was selected to succeed former Representative Scott Ryan, who resigned to take a position with Governor DeWine’s administration. Representative Fraizer from Newark, Ohio, formerly served on the Newark City Council and is a senior project manager in information technology at Huntington National Bank. Rep. Fraizer is also a former legislative page.

State Representative Cindy Abrams was recently appointed to succeed now State Senator Bill Blessing is serving her first term in the Ohio House of Representatives. She represents the 29th Ohio House District, which includes portions of western Hamilton County. She previously served as a Police Officer for the City of Cincinnati and as City Councilwoman for the City of Harrison. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice from Indiana University and is a graduate of the Public Leadership Academy of The Ohio State University. She served on the boards of the Hamilton County Emergency Management & Homeland Security Agency, Hamilton County Municipal League, and SHELeads., Abrams serves on the Hamilton County Judicial Screening committee. Additionally, she established the Harrison Junior City Council Program. She has been married to her husband Doug for 17years and they reside in Harrison, Ohio with their two sons.

State Representative Haraz Ghanbari (R-Perrysburg) was appointed to succeed now State Senator Theresa Gavarone is serving his first term in the Ohio House of Representatives after being appointed to the General Assembly in March 2019. He represents the 3rd House District, which encompasses all of Wood County. Haraz has spent 17 years in the military serving his country He is a Navy veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and Operation Inherent Resolve, and an Army veteran of Operation Joint Forge in Bosnia. And currently serves as a Lieutenant Commander in the United States Navy Reserve. He is a son of Iranian immigrants and before serving in the Ohio House of Representatives he previously served as the Director of Military and Veteran Affairs for The University of Toledo and as a staff photojournalist for The Associated Press based in Washington where his assignments included traveling nationally and internationally as a member of the White House and Pentagon press corps. During his time in Washington, he traveled on assignment with Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, Secretaries of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld and Robert M. Gates, and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. 

State Representative Gil Blair was appointed to succeed former State Representative Glenn Holmes is a lifelong resident of Ohio’s 63rd House district. Prior to serving in the Ohio House of Representatives Rep. Blair served as an attorney and municipal court prosecutor and previously served eight years as a Weathersfield Township trustee and five as a municipal court prosecutor for the City of Warren. He earned his BA and JD from the University of Akron and currently operates a private law practice.
State Representative Diane Grendell was appointed to succeed for State Representative Sarah LaTourette who left to take a position in the DeWine Administration, is currently serving her fifth term in the Ohio House of Representatives. She represents the 76th Ohio House District, which includes most of Geauga and northern Portage counties. Representative Grendell previously served as a state representative in the Ohio House of Representatives from 1992-2000. Following this service, she was elected as Judge of the Ohio Eleventh District Court of Appeals where she served for eighteen years and had 203 cases published by the Ohio Supreme Court. Representative Grendell was appointed by the Chief Justice to rule on Ohio Supreme Court cases nine times. Representative Grendell received her Juris Doctor Degree from the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law and was a JAG Officer in the Ohio Military Reserve. She is a Registered Nurse and attorney with a business and psychology degree.

State Representative Jeff LaRe (R-Violet Twp.) was appointed to succeed now State Senator Tim Schaffer, is currently serving his first term as state representative. He represents the 77th Ohio House District, which includes most of Fairfield County. Additional to his duties as a new State Representative Rep. LaRe serves as the Executive Vice President of The Whitestone Group, where he has worked since 2000. Whitestone is a nationwide provider of asset protection and security services. Prior to his work at Whitestone, he was an Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy (OPOTA) Certified Peace Officer and an OPOTA Certified Corrections Officer at the Fairfield County Sheriff’s Office.

State Representative Jason Stephens was appointed to succeed former State Representative Ryan Smith who resigned to take over the duties as President of the University of Rio Grande is serving his first term in the Ohio House of Representatives. He serves the 93rd House District, which includes Jackson and Gallia counties, as well as portions of Lawrence and Vinton counties. Prior to his appointment Rep. Stephens served as the Lawrence County auditor. He previously served as Lawrence County commissioner. Stephens is a small business owner operating as a licensed insurance agent at Stephens & Son Insurance Agency, Inc and is a co-owner of Stephens & Son Insurance of Chesapeake, Inc. Stephens graduated from Lipscomb University in Nashville, Tennessee with a Bachelor’s degree in Economics/Finance and Business Management.

State Representative DJ Swearingen was appointed to succeed former State Representative Steve Arndt is currently serving his first term in the Ohio House of Representatives. He represents the 89th House District, which encompasses both Erie and Ottawa counties. Representative Swearingen received his Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Bowling Green State University, and his Juris Doctor Degree from the University of Dayton School of Law. He continues to practices law with the firm Wickens, Herzer, Panza with offices in Sandusky and Avon where he advises business owners on transactions, daily operations, and future initiatives.

Ohio Senate

State Senator Bill Blessing was appointed to succeed former State Senator Lou Terhar, is serving his first term in the Ohio Senate. He currently represents Ohio’s 8th Senate District, which encompasses a portion of Hamilton County. He began his career in the legislature serving as a member of the Ohio House of Representatives, representing the 29th Ohio House District. Senator Blessing is an electrical engineer and currently works as an engineer at Super Systems, Inc. in Cincinnati and previously worked at Duke Energy and Nova Engineering. He earned his Bachelor of Arts in mathematics and Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering at the University of Cincinnati.

State Senator Theresa Gavarone was appointed to succeed former State Senator Randy Gardner who took a position with the DeWine Administration as the state’s Chancellor of Higher Education. Senator Gavarone previously served in the Ohio House. She represents the people of Erie, Ottawa and Wood counties and parts of Fulton and Lucas counties. Senator Gavarone previously served on the Bowling Green City Council and is an attorney and co-owner of Mr. Spots in Bowling Green.

State Senator Terry Johnson was appointed to succeed former State Senator Joe Uecker who left for a position with the Ohio Department of Transportation. Senator Johnson previously served as a State Representative in the Ohio House. He is a practicing physician, a medical educator, a retired military officer, and served previously as a State Representative. He was the first and, to date, only osteopathic physician to serve in the Ohio legislature.

State Senator Tim Schaffer was appointed to succeed former State Senator Brian Hill who resigned to take a position with the Muskingum & Guernsey Council Rural Electric Cooperative. Tim Schaffer is currently serving in his third term in the Ohio Senate serving the 20th district which encompasses Fairfield, Guernsey, Hocking, Morgan and Muskingum counties, as well as parts of Athens and Pickaway counties. Senator Schaffer was first elected to the Ohio House in 2000. After serving three terms he was elected to the Ohio Senate in the 31stdistrict. He returned to the House in 2015. In addition to his legislative duties, Senator Schaffer has a private sector career as an association executive.