A little bit about who I am, and why I am running for State Representative for Ohio’s 53rd District:
I was born in Hamilton, Ohio to parents who modeled a strong work ethic, emphasized the importance of self-reliance, and encouraged community service. My father was a World War II veteran (awarded 2 Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star) and a full-time firefighter, rising to the rank of Lieutenant with the Hamilton Fire Department; he also worked part time as a city bus driver to provide for me and my two siblings. When I was five, my mother began volunteering, and finally working part time, with United Cerebral Palsy of Butler County, eventually becoming the supervisor for the Middletown adult workshop managed by the Butler County Board of Developmental Disabilities. What they demonstrated to me was the importance of not only doing work that you feel is important, but the value of doing work that helps others.
I’m a teacher and a business owner. After graduating from Hamilton Taft High School in 1976, I spent a year of college in St. Louis, followed by a year of life lessons in NYC, then returned to southwest Ohio in 1978 and began working as a teaching assistant in a small, non-profit school in Oxford. It was there I found my passion and my calling, which turned into a long and rewarding career working with, and advocating for, young children and the caregivers and teachers who work hard to provide them with loving care and a solid developmental foundation. While working full time, I returned to my college coursework, which was again interrupted when I began my own business, the Oxford Early Childhood Center, in 1986. I completed my undergraduate degree in 1992, a master’s degree in 2000, and a PhD in 2010, all from Miami University. I also owned and operated a children’s book and toy store in Oxford from 1994-1998, adding retail experience to my skill set. Since 2010, I have been an Early Childhood Consultant and Trainer, providing professional development workshops for early childhood teachers, caregivers, and administrators throughout southwest Ohio. I closed the Oxford Early Childhood Center in 2014, after having provided quality care and education to hundreds of children in western Butler county over the 28 years of its operation. In addition to my consulting and training work, I have been an instructor at Miami University for the past 18 years, teaching on all four local campuses in Educational Leadership, Teacher Education, Theater, and Interdisciplinary Studies.
I’m a volunteer and advocate. I have been very active with community non-profit groups and arts organizations. I have been an active participant, current board member, and past board president of the Oxford Area Community Theater for nearly 30 years. I am currently the president of the Oxford Literacy Team, a group providing literacy outreach and a summer reading program to hundreds of children in the Talawanda school district, providing each child who participates with nearly two dozen self-selected books to help maintain reading proficiency from one school year to the next.
I am a spouse and a parent. My wife and I have been together since 1990, and we were finally able to get married in 2015 for our 25th anniversary. That milestone was a long time coming, and when we first committed to spend our lives together, I never would have guessed that the day would come that we would be able to enjoy the same benefits that other couples take for granted. The evolution of our social and cultural attitudes towards marriage equality has been one of the most incredible things I have witnessed in my lifetime. Together, we are the proud parents of a strong, smart, and amazing daughter, who will graduate from college this year. I am proud that, as Americans, we have recognized that equal protection under the law means equal protection for everyone. And I am proud that, as a family, we have experienced so much support from so many in our communities. I am also aware that, even though we have made such tremendous strides in terms of constitutional equality, there is still much work to do to ensure equity in access and acceptance for people who continue to face both subtle and overt discrimination in their daily lives.
I am ready to represent the 53rd District. My lifelong residency in Butler county is combined with my professional expertise, my business experience, my community involvement, and my advocacy for children, families, and hard-working individuals from a diverse cross section of cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds throughout Butler County and southwest Ohio. This has given me a unique perspective on the challenges faced by people who often feel that their voices are not heard by politicians focused on narrow agendas and hyper-partisan posturing that is not always responsive to the needs of residents who are working hard to make a decent living for themselves and their families. I am dedicated to listening to all constituents, and to being a reasonable and responsible representative who truly advocates for the needs of residents of the 53rd district.
I am looking forward to meeting folks throughout the district and learning about your concerns, successes, and challenges. I know what it is like to live from paycheck to paycheck, and to make hard decisions about which bills to pay each month, or how to save a few cents on groceries. I have experienced the fear of having a health crisis with no health insurance. I have seen the pain and sadness in the eyes of a child whose parent is struggling with addiction, and knowing that the only thing I could do to help was to hold that child a little closer and let them know that they are still loved. I have paid off student loans, and I have watched as friends who are public school teachers fought to maintain quality classroom practices while their budgets were cut and unfair testing regimes consumed their time and energy. I have listened to friends and neighbors express their frustrations with elected officials who don’t, or won’t, hear their concerns or offer any meaningful assistance.
I have seen Butler County struggle with economic stresses, and watched as workers have been laid off when major manufacturers and corporations have failed or relocated. I have mourned with friends and families who have lost loved ones who gave their all for their country, and I have stood proud watching firefighters, law enforcement officers, and first responders go above and beyond the call of duty to serve our communities. I have celebrated the achievements of young athletes, scholars, artists, and vocational students in our schools, and have assisted families as they have reached out to access crucial services for their special needs children. I have witnessed the breakup of family farms and the remarkable perseverance of those same families doing everything they can to save that agricultural heritage for future generations.
I have seen a lot of changes in Butler County in my lifetime, but the one thing that has never changed is the combination of compassion, courage, and strength that the people of this district demonstrate every day, as we strive to make sure that every individual, every family, and every community has every opportunity to succeed. Toward that end, we simply must listen to each other, respect each other, and work together to keep the Ohio 53rd strong!
We can make that happen. Join me on this journey. #flipthe53rd #ibackbecky