Montgomery County Commissioner
Southwest Ohio, Countywide
We are thrilled to endorse Carolyn Rice for Montgomery County Commissioner. Her years of public service and leadership make her exactly the type of woman candidate The Matriots aims to support.
“I am so honored to be endorsed by The Matriots. I have spent my whole professional life preparing to be Montgomery County Commissioner and am thrilled to join the ranks of these endorsed women, bringing our perspective to elected office. Thank you to The Matriots for your critical work and your invaluable support”
– Carolyn Rice
Commissioner Carolyn Rice On Leading As A Woman
Montgomery county is in the Dayton metropolitan area. Click here to find elected officials in your district.
Meet the Candidate
Can you tell our members a little bit about your journey to filing as a candidate?
My journey started 15 years ago when I experienced a perfect storm of factors that “woke me up” and resulted in me discovering my “political voice.” In 2003, I was unemployed and concerned about our country launching the war in Iraq when I read the book John Adams by Pulitzer Prize-winning author David McCullough that later became the HBO series “John Adams.” Up to that point in my life, I had always tried to avoid talking about religion and politics. Reading that book changed my life because I realized for the first time that our founding mothers and fathers had put everything on the line for this new democratic government. I finally understood that my silence was taken as consensus, so I needed to step up and speak out if democracy is truly going to work.
For the first time in my life, I became an activist with my local Democratic party. I volunteered for the Kerry campaign and found myself phone-banking, attending rallies, canvassing, and more. When Kerry lost that election, our Women for Kerry group decided to stay involved and not fade away. I soon found myself chairing the group, and we continued meeting every month to explore issues. In 2006, I was asked to run for State Representative for my gerrymandered district against the three-term incumbent who happened to be the Montgomery County Republican chair at that time. I never seem to attempt anything easy, so I took on the challenge. My small group of volunteers joined me in knocking on 18,000 doors that summer and fall, and I ended up with nearly 45% of the vote on Election Day. Although I did not win that first race, I discovered I loved “democracy on the doorstep” and the whole political process. The local party leaders told me I had a future in politics, and I was encouraged to seek the appointment for Montgomery County Treasurer in early 2007. I did just that and ran against four other candidates before winning the appointment. I have served as Montgomery County Treasurer since February 2007.
Serving as County Treasurer has been the greatest honor and privilege of my life. I have done my utmost to serve with distinction and find solutions to issues our community faces. Championing land banking and foreclosure mediation are just two examples. My decision to seek the Montgomery County Commissioner open seat this November 6th is a call to duty to step up and bring my experience, leadership and passion to the next level and do my best to make a difference on an even broader spectrum of issues my county faces.
Tell our members about a friend or family member who inspired you to become a leader.
In the 1980s, I met a friend in TWIGs, an auxiliary of Dayton Children’s Hospital, who had been a teacher like me. When her two sons were in school, she decided to go back to graduate school and pursue an MBA. Eventually she went on to seek a law degree all the while raising her family and staying active in the community. I had never known a woman to so boldly change course and seek new career goals. Her actions inspired me to assess my own dreams and aspirations and eventually I went to graduate school and earned my MBA. As I look back over my 30-year career in business, education and public service, it was her example that sparked me to take chances and explore opportunities when they presented themselves. A few years ago, I got the chance to thank her for being a “shero” to me and showing me the possibilities that abound if we just take a chance on ourselves and go for it. I hope I can pay it forward by being an example to other women to find their unique path and be a leader in their own way.
Some of you are military veterans, some small business owners, some professionals, some mothers and grandmothers, some homemakers. How did one of these experiences shape who you are as a person and leader?
I have had a diverse career path, holding jobs in business, education and public service, and each of these jobs has had an impact on me as a person and a leader. However, I will focus on just one job—my six-year stint as a marketing professional at a local corporation. I joined the corporation as the manager of New Products in their business forms division, and when I left I was director of Marketing for that same division reporting directly to the Chief Marketing Officer. I learned so much about decision-making, managing people, telling truth to power, creating strong teams, and had the chance to work with so many fine professionals during my tenure. I elected to volunteer for the corporation’s Diversity Team, an extracurricular activity apart from my job responsibilities, and that experience enriched my values and perspective beyond measure. However, on June 2, 2002 I was laid off quite unexpectedly out of no fault of my own, like so many millions of workers have also experienced just for being in the wrong job at the wrong time. This event turned out to be a turning point in my life. I was devastated at the time—my life turned upside down. However, once I got through the next two years of job search involving more than 250 interviews and a lengthy contract employment assignment at another local corporation, I landed at the university where I had received my MBA in the position of director of Executive Education, administering their nontraditional MBA programs. The whole episode taught me so much about myself, about people and what I wanted out of life (my Plan B). Looking back, it was a real gift because all the things I have done since then have made me richer in the ways that really matter to me—helping people and making a difference.
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?
My vision for Ohio 10 years from now is pretty simple. I hope to see Ohio redistricted more fairly so candidates will truly compete on their ideas and qualifications and our legislature and executive branch truly reflect Ohioans’ values. I definitely want more women to hold office at the local and state levels because I know women will put community above egos and search for common ground so we can come together to get things done. I hope the state returns to its role of supporting and partnering with local government to meet the needs (jobs, healthcare, safety, infrastructure, etc.) of all Ohioans. Given my dedication to land banking, I hope the state will have created a funding resource so that communities and counties across Ohio will be able to remove the blight that remains on their landscape and revitalize neighborhoods in distress.
Tip O’Neill famously said that “all politics is local.” What are the top-two issues your community or our state face today?
Montgomery County has cut the number of unemployed by 25,000 workers since the Great Recession, pushing the unemployment rate down to the lowest level since I became Treasurer. We’ve done a good job attracting new jobs — now we must build the workforce we need to create better jobs. If we want every citizen to prosper, we must have access to quality career training. Every new high school graduate needs to have a career plan for attaining higher education or technical training to achieve those goals. We should not settle for a temp job economy, but build an economy with real muscle. As County Commissioner, I will be a champion for better paying jobs for workers in Montgomery County that offers a living wage. As County Treasurer over the past eleven years, I have seen the devastating impact that state government decisions have had on Ohio counties, school systems, cities, villages, and townships. Unfunded state mandates, shifting taxes to the county level, and cuts to local government operating funds have created budget shortfalls for Montgomery County and other counties across the state. As County Commissioner, I will work to repair relationships with the legislature and leaders in Columbus so that Montgomery County’s issues will be heard and understood. The state’s disinvestment in local government needs to end. Ohioans deserve better.
A stronger economy that offers jobs with living wages and a restored partnership between the State of Ohio and local governments will provide the foundation upon which we can address the other issues Ohioans care most about such as quality education for all and access to affordable healthcare.
Tell us something personal about yourself.
As I mentioned earlier, the book John Adams by David McCullough changed my life. I always wanted to tell Mr. McCullough what a positive impact his book has had on me because if I was an author I would want to know such a thing. Over the years, I tried to figure out how to reach him several times to no avail. In winter 2015, my friend, Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley, was telling our book club about the city’s plans to bring David McCullough to town to promote his new book, The Wright Brothers, to be published that summer. Much to my delight, she gave me the address of his scheduler so I could write a letter to him and have a chance he might actually receive it. I wrote the letter and less than a week later I received a handwritten letter back from him on his personal stationery, saying how delighted he was with my letter and how his work had been such a positive impact on me.
He even wanted to meet me when he came to Dayton a few months later. When he came to Dayton, I got a ticket to the sold-out lecture and made sure to get there early so I could be near the front. He gave an outstanding lecture, and I got to talk with him and his wife on stage after the event. We hugged and his wife said the day my letter arrived it absolutely made his day. I will forever cherish his letter and my chance to meet him – one more item off my bucket list!!!