Republicans square off for a chance at 96th House of Representatives seat

STEUBENVILLE — Two Republicans are facing each other in the May 8 primary election to win the right to face incumbent Democrat Jack Cera, D-Bellaire, in the fall in the race for the 96th Ohio House of Representatives seat.

They are Bob Mazeroski of Richmond and Fiona Ruminski of Toronto. Cera is unopposed in his party.

Mazeroski, 55, has been a pastor of a large church with multiple campuses for 15 years. Prior to that, he was a manager of a multimillion-dollar racehorse business.

“My ability to serve and lead is proven,” he said. “Additionally, I am a ‘son’ of the district I seek to represent — I was born and raised here and have lived my entire life in this region. Therefore, I know and understand the people and the area.”

Mazeroski said he decided to run when he was struck by the decline in American values and expectations during a visit to Washington, D.C.

“I’m compelled to be a part of the solution to ‘make America great again’ by doing my part here in Ohio. Ohio government needs to come alongside parents struggling to raise their kids in a hostile culture,” Mazeroski said. “We need to create an atmosphere in our state where companies expand and job opportunities grow.

“As President Trump struggles to re-arm America’s military, Steubenville should have a major role in the defense industrial base,” he continued. “The mills and mines may not reassume the level that we had in our industrial heyday, but we can become the center for hardworking people and healthy, thriving families. That is doable. Steubenville can reinvent itself and become a good place to live and work, a place in which our children choose to stay rather than leave. We’ve done it before. I saw it. It was there.”

If elected, Mazeroski said he will “join forces with parents, community leaders and local level government to be an ally, not a complicating factor.”

Mazeroski said he will match problems with workable solutions.

“I will recognize the strengths of good people united by our faith in God and a strong purpose to do as much as we can as fast as we can to help our region,” he said.

Mazeroski said the opioid epidemic, joblessness and the decline of the family are not insurmountable problems.

“The fight is not over until we stop fighting,” he said.

If elected, he said his first step would be to re-establish communications with people in the district, listening more and talking less, while working with fellow Republicans and anyone willing to help. He said he would use “every means of persuasion to bring new constructive approaches to solving problems here.”

He said voters should select him because he was born and raised here and lived his life in the region, he has experienced the same challenges that people face every day here.

“Very often, people here are my childhood friends, former classmates, teachers, coaches, etc.,” he said. “I believe in our people and our region and I know it can be great again. Our state government shouldn’t stand on the sidelines while real people fight on the field for their lives and their children’s and grandchildren’s lives. I will fight for our people.”

Ruminski, 56, was the local field organizer for the Trump campaign in Jefferson, Belmont and Harrison counties and has been a volunteer on various campaigns in many states. She was hired and worked for a private political organization in Georgia, working for a candidate in a special election. Ruminski said she has worked as a Veterans Administration loan default investigator for a private contractor, as well as worked in the federal government at the Pentagon and other bases for the Air Force. She has worked locally as an assistant manager for the UPS Store.

Asked why she is seeking office, Ruminski said, “While working for the Trump campaign, I met many people by going door to door and listening to them. For the first time in a long time, they had hope. They felt someone finally heard them.

“I want to run because we need more local politicians who know where these people are coming from. They need someone who wants to keep that hope living and thriving, who won’t forget the people who voted them into office in the first place, and who will work for all the constituents. I believe I’m the best person to fulfill that role.”

Ruminski said she will focus on economic development in the three counties of the 96th District based on strengths and individual characteristics.

“I want to work on combating the opioid crisis by working with law enforcement, addiction specialists and medical personnel to fight this problem with a multi-pronged approach,” she said. “I also want to explore how our counties can even further benefit from the energy industries, which are here, by way of discussions with both energy companies as well as energy workers. Finally, I want to work with and for veterans so that they receive the care and support they need and deserve.”

She said one of her first actions in office would be to investigate all federal or state grants that would bring new businesses and allow new opportunities for Ohio Valley residents who want to start their own businesses.

“One of the biggest issues we face is a lack of employment opportunities in our area,” she said. “The three counties in District 96 need these opportunities and need a representative who works for all three every day he or she is in office. They need their voices to be heard in the capital.”

Ruminski said while she did not live in the area all her life, it’s where she and her family chose to retire after years in the military.

“We chose the Ohio Valley because of the core values we saw in the citizens here,” Ruminski said. “I believe in those values and I appreciate the people who espouse them, and I want to make sure they are all represented every day of my tenure in office. I believe that together, we can make the Ohio Valley the gem of this state.”