Class of 2020 Endorsed Candidate: Betsy Rader

Betsy Rader is running for the Ohio Senate to provide a voice in Columbus for everyone – not just big-money special interests. Running to represent people from all walks of life – Democrats, Republicans, Independents, and individuals who have never considered themselves particularly political before, Betsy is focused on standing up for regular people on issues like affordable health care, quality public education, and economic opportunities with jobs that pay good wages. If elected, she will fight for fair elections and work toward a shared vision of an Ohio where everyone can thrive.


Meet the Candidate: Betsy Rader

1) In your interview with the Endorsement Committee, you shared a personal life experience that led you to the decision to run for office. Can you tell our members a little bit about your journey to filing as a candidate?

I have long been a volunteer in my community but I became more active politically in 2017 when my Congressman was trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act. I have a healthcare law background and became a vocal grassroots activist fighting the repeal. I had been considering running for Congress when the Trump Administration announced that it was opposing equal employment rights for LGBTQ individuals. Both of my sons are gay and I am currently a civil rights attorney, and this was the last straw. I decided that I would fight with every fiber of my being for the people who are not being represented in this country. When I did not win my race for Congress, I decided to keep up that fight by running for an open seat in the State Senate, which can help get rid of the gerrymandering that is taking away our voices.

2) Many of you cited a family member whose strength was an inspiration to you. Tell our members about a friend or family member who inspired you to become a leader.

I grew up in difficult circumstances and for most of my life I did not have the good fortune of female mentors. However, during my recent campaigns, I have met inspiring Cleveland area political activists including Cynthia Demsey, Lana Moresky, Jane Buder Shapiro and Mary Boyle, who all helped me to run a strong congressional race and encouraged me to run for office again. These women have a long history of supporting women’s rights and female candidates, and they support candidates selflessly and without ego. They have kept working hard in the face of devastating disappointments like Hillary Clinton’s loss and have taught me that we can’t give up the fight.

3) Some of you are teachers, some businesspeople, some professionals, some homemakers. How has your career and life experiences shaped who you are as a person and a leader?

My career as an attorney has been varied – ranging from corporate litigation, to running an advocacy program for abused children, to being a business executive, to working at the Cleveland Clinic and then Medicare & Medicaid. Now I have my own law firm where I mainly represent victims of workplace discrimination. These experiences have made me willing to take risk and have the confidence that I can take on new challenges and be successful. They also gave me the opportunity to participate in and lead teams, and to realize that I obtain my greatest satisfaction from collaborating with others to make a positive difference. More than once, I have left good-paying jobs to do low-paying work that I find more meaningful, and one of my favorite quotes is from Henry David Thoreau where he states that he wanted to live deliberately because he did “not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”

4) The Matriots PAC has a goal to see 50% of all elected offices in Ohio held by women by 2028. What is your vision for Ohio in 2028?

Eight years from now, I envision an Ohio that is forward-looking. It invests in its children by funding wonderful public education that makes children feel valued: K-12 as well as daycare, pre-school, trade schools, and college. It invests in its people by requiring a living minimum wage, ensuring that health care is available and affordable, and passing common-sense gun safety laws. It invests in its natural resources by protecting its clean air and water, and moving to clean renewable energy. It invests in democratic engagement by getting rid of gerrymandering and passing campaign finance reform so that every citizen’s voice is heard and represented.

5) Tip O’Neill famously said that “all politics is local.” What are the top-two issues your community or our state face today?

Getting the pandemic under control is a top issue for my community today. Unfortunately, we have local and state leaders in our community who promote misinformation and disrespect for our public health officials. We need to respect scientific expertise, come together and take the basic steps necessary to control the pandemic so that our children can go to school safely and our economy can recover.

Funding public education equitably and adequately is another top issue for my community. For instance, rural school districts have been unable to pass local levies needed to maintain their districts. Suburban school districts are forced to constantly spend their time and attention on levy campaigns. We must implement a funding system that is not so reliant on local property taxes.

6) Now for fun: Tell us something personal about yourself. It can be a hobby, your favorite food or something we might not know about you that you would like to share with our members.

I am most happy when I am outdoors. My dad was a game warden in Appalachian Ohio and I grew up hunting and fishing. I live in an 1847 farmhouse in a semi-rural area because it is near so many wonderful parks and natural areas where I can hike, bike and kayak.