CIRCLEVILLE — Pickaway County Commissioner Brian Stewart announced Wednesday his decision to seek election to the Ohio House of Representatives and represent the 78th District.
Stewart, 36, a Republican, was initially elected in 2012 to the county commissioners’ board and re-elected in 2016. Prior to that, he spent three years on the Ashville Village Council and served in the U.S. Army where he was deployed to Iraq.
He looks to fill the seat held by Rep. Ron Hood (R-78), who is prohibited by term limits to run for re-election. If Stewart wins the primary and general election in November 2020, he would start serving in 2021.
“I have spent my entire adult life serving my country and my community,” Stewart said. “I have a strong conservative record and as a result we have helped create more than 2,700 new jobs, passed a balanced budget every year with no deficit spending and all the while improving local government and fighting for the values that are important to residents in Ohio’s 78th House District.”
Stewart said he hasn’t always wanted to be a politician but something changed after Sept. 11, 2001 and the attacks on the U.S., which happened when he was a senior in high school.
“I had not given much thought to the military or to public service and why it matters in our lives,” he said. “That day really changed the course of my life. I think I suddenly had a real understanding of what public service matters. I’d come home from school, turn on the television and see what was happening in the world and how government officials tackled these problems.”
Stewart said serving as an infantryman in the army, with fellow soldiers who were killed in action, drove home the idea for him to come back and make a difference in his community.
“When I moved to Pickaway County, I never had any thoughts of public service or what that would be, I just wanted to put down roots and be involved and not take the community for granted,” he said.
Stewart said his political career has come with the encouragement of friends and family starting back in his days on Ashville Council to now as he begins his campaign for state representative.
“I’ve really enjoyed the work and I think we’ve been really effective here,” he said. “People talk about public service sometimes and [ask]why you’d want to go into this tough world of politics. I look back now on seven years of which there are now, thanks to the work at the commissioners ‘office, 2,700 families with food on the table that weren’t there before thanks to the additional 2,700 new jobs.”
Stewart said he hopes to continue the work of representative Hood and Rep., Gary Scherer (R-92) by being a voice for not only Pickaway County but also all the other counties represented by the district.
“I enjoy the work and I feel like we’re making a difference,” he said. “As long as those two things keep being the case I’m interested in continuing to serve. I want to be a good partner for all the counties. State representative is a job where you should be fighting for the local priorities in the Statehouse. We’re not afraid to tackle big projects, the nitty gritty or to push buttons to get big things done. I haven’t been a go-along, get-along commissioner and I think that perspective would help me be an effective legislator.”
Stewart said his main issues would be focusing on partnering with local governments, job creation, broadband access, aiming to keep taxes low and limiting government.
Stewart currently lives in Walnut Township near Ashville and has lived in southern Ohio his entire life. He is married to his wife, Letanya and they have three children, Salem, Sidney and Lincoln.