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December 18, 2009

 

Antonio to seek 13th Ohio House District seat

Lakewood--City councilor Nickie Antonio has become the first declared candidate in the race to represent Ohio’s 13th House District.

Antonio declared her candidacy December 7 at Roosevelt Elementary School, after telling her LGBT backers at a restaurant fundraiser three days earlier.

Antonio became Lakewood’s first openly gay official when she won the at-large council seat in 2005. She was re-elected in November with the most votes of three candidates seated, and will continue on city council throughout the campaign.

The 13th House District encompasses all of Lakewood and the part of Cleveland to its east, including the Edgewater and Detroit-Shoreway neighborhoods, and most of Ohio City. It is currently represented by Mike Skindell, a champion of LGBT equality who can’t run again because of term limits.

Antonio, 54, holds a master of public administration degree from the Maxine Levin College of Urban Affairs at Cleveland State University and a bachelor of science degree in education from Cleveland State University. She has also been a special education teacher and college instructor and an aide to former Lakewood mayor Madeline Cain.

Currently, she is an administrator of Ryan White funds for HIV and AIDS programs in a five-county area. She has held that job for two years.

Antonio has been active with the Cleveland Stonewall Democrats and Ohio’s Democratic Party.

For years, her name has been mentioned as a 2010 successor to Skindell by the Lesbian and Gay Victory Fund and the Ohio Democratic Party.

Skindell supports Antonio, and has raised money for her.

If elected, she will become Ohio’s first openly gay state elected official.

That alone is seen as significant, as Ohio is one of only a few large states with no LGBT state legislator, which is an important step toward passing equality legislation.

This is not lost on Antonio, who said, “Any time someone brings life experience to a position and serves as an equal and a colleague, the level of understanding increases and that makes a difference.”

“I have lived discrimination and inequality,” Antonio said, “with most of those issues tied to economics.”

Antonio and her partner Jean Kosmac have two daughters, Ariel and Stacey.

“Ohio has a long way to go to have fairness and equality for all, especially LGBT people,” Antonio said.

That, however, will only be part of Antonio’s campaign.

As she has done as a Lakewood councilor, Antonio wants to spend most of her time on economic development.

“My main motivation for running is to do all I can to fix school funding and continue developing strong educational policies and help create jobs,” she said.

Antonio has a vision for Ohio, especially the northeastern part, to develop “innovative, sustainable, and green” employment opportunities.

Antonio said she will need $100,000 to $120,000 to run her campaign, which the Victory Fund is already helping her to raise.

Two other possible candidates have voiced interest in the seat. One is former state senator Dan Brady, whose intention to run was expressed to a reporter through his wife, Cleveland councilor Dona Brady.

Brady, also a supporter of the LGBT community, backs marriage equality and in 2003, was the first to introduce a bill that protected gays and lesbians from discrimination in employment. Brady left the Senate in 2006 due to term limits.

Antonio says she’s a better choice than Brady because she says, he’s retired and has been out of public life for a while, while she is more current on the issues and the work of the people.

“I respect the past record Dan Brady has,” Antonio said, “but I’m for the future, for bringing fresh ideas and a new culture.”

The name of Lakewood Councilor Thomas Bullock is also circulating as a possible candidate for the seat.

“I am humbled by the many calls I have received from people throughout the district, asking me to run for this position,” Antonio said.

In addition to the LGBT community, Antonio has had strong support from labor, women, progressives, members of social change and arts communities.

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