CIRCLEVILLE — Brian Stewart, District 78 Representative to the Ohio House, which includes the eastern half of Pickaway County, has announced his bid for U.S. Congress.
Stewart, 37, made the announcement Monday evening following the news that Steve Stivers would be stepping down on May 16 to take the job of president and CEO of the Ohio Chamber of Commerce. Ohio House District 78 and Ohio Congressional District 15, the district Stivers represents, have a lot of overlap.
“Congressman Stivers is a good friend, and he has been a fantastic leader for our communities,” Stewart said. “I thank him for his service in Congress and I wish him well in this new chapter of his life. His leadership has made our beloved state and nation stronger and better equipped to meet the challenges that are on the horizon.
Those challenges — whether from the extreme left, or an adversarial nation — must be dealt with aggressively and with conviction. Although I was not looking to run for Congress, in just the past few hours alone, I have received strong encouragement from family, constituents and community leaders to consider this next challenge. As an infantry veteran of the Iraq War, I have never shied from a challenge, and am pleased to announce that I am running for Congress to represent Ohio’s 15th district.
As a small business owner, and now, as a member of the Ohio General Assembly, I have spent my entire adult life serving my country and my community. I look forward to being a conservative champion for Ohio families in Washington D.C.”
A special election will be held in August and the position will be up for vote in the November General Election. Stewart ran for his District 78 seat in the Ohio House of Representatives last year. He said Stivers’ announcement and the timing is strange, but this is an opportunity he can’t pass up.
“I love what I do and this is kind of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to contribute in a really important time in our country,” Stewart said. “I’ve been a local official for 10 years, I’m an Iraq war veteran and a small business owner. I’ll put my resume up against a whole lot of people in Congress now.”
Stewart, a resident of Ashville with his wife and children, said he never thought about being a congressman and as a teenager, thought about being a stand up comedian.
“Like so many Americans, 9/11 changed my life and I got more serious quickly and that put me on a course for military service,” he said. “When I came back, I decided I wanted to give back and contribute and earn this extra chance at life some of my friends I served with won’t have. It’s really just been about how to make a difference and how to make our county and state and at this point the country the best it can be. I think we need people who are in it for the right reasons and are in it for the experience to literally put your life in harms way because you love this country so much and I think we need more of this.”
Stewart said he and his wife, Letanya, discussed running for Stivers’ seat, should it ever come open. It was the encouragement of her, other family, friends and people he respects that led him to the decision to run.
“You don’t get to pick the timeframe in which opportunities become available, but this is an important time for America and what I was listening to today, my constituents, colleges and my family who said we need people like you to step up and be in our Congress if we’re going to get better as a country.
My wife and I got married eight months before I deployed and spent the first 18 months of our marriage apart,” Stewart added. “We’ve never had a dull life during our time together and she and I very much believe in public service and giving back and the issues we’re dealing with as a country are important enough that we need good people to step up and serve. We feel like our kids are seeing mom and dad step up in times where we need people to step up.”
Stewart said he will keep his seat in the Ohio House.
“I’m working very hard at the statehouse and I have multiple bills of really substantive importance that are moving through committees,” he said. “We’re going to continue to aggressively represent this district and work on broadband internet access, improve the business climate, re-open Ohio and being fiscally responsible for our tax dollars.”