State Representative, District 7
Northeast Ohio, State Legislature
A career Army officer and former commander, Joan Sweeny offers proven leadership in her race for state representative. She understands strategy and problem-solving on a broad scale. She has experienced the unintended consequences of policies created without the benefit of diverse voices, especially the voices of women. As a result, she is fiercely committed to gender equity and removing obstacles that keep women and families from long-term improvements in quality of life through pay equity, support services, medical care and family leave. Ohio-educated, internationally experienced, documented as a leader, Joan is ready to leverage her career as a public servant for the good of all Ohioans.
Meet the Candidate
Can you tell our members a little bit about your journey to filing as a candidate?
When I was at Ohio State in 2009 I had the opportunity to hear Mary Robinson, the first women President of Ireland, speak about why more women need to run for office – because women and men think differently. If we had more women in government, we would have better policies that impact women and families. Since men and women approach, identify, and solve problems differently, we are better and stronger working together. Fast forward 10 years, my husband, Mark Dent, who is active with the local dem clubs, was asked if he was interested in running. He gave them my name and encouraged me to run. I sought the input of my family, friends and had a few more long discussions with Mark. I knew this was not a solo adventure. I also remembered Mary Robinson’s speech and the timeless words “If not you, who; if not now, when”. And so I filed as a candidate.
Tell our members about a friend or family member who inspired you to become a leader.
I have been fortunate to have so many strong, courageous, and caring women and men in my life. But my mother, Catherine Sweeny, stands out. She was a strong, hardworking women, champion of the underdog and unapologetic in her convictions. She was open and loving and taught me so much by her actions and her deeds. Specifically, that there is always room for one more at the table.
How has your career and life experiences shaped who you are as a person and a leader?
I spent 25 years in the United States Army. I was 24 years old when I deployed to Desert Shield/Desert Storm, responsible for the health and welfare of 40 Soldiers. I quickly learned the importance of putting your Soldiers first, functioning as a team, and working together to accomplish the most difficult missions. In the Army you swear an oath, live by a creed, and live the Army values of loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity and personal courage. I spent my career guided by these principles, knowing I had a serious responsibility to lead, train and support those entrusted to my care.
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?
This bold goal is attainable and necessary. We must collectively make a path for others to follow, where service to others is the expectation and not the exception. I envision an electorate who puts constituents first, functions as a team, and works together to solve the most difficult problems facing Ohioans.
Tip O’Neill famously said that “all politics is local.” What are the top-two issues your community or our state face today?
Investing in education by reforming the school funding system with a legal and sustainable process while supporting teachers and providing high-quality education.
Growing the economy in a way that supports responsible business growth and brings good paying jobs that provide living wages.
These two issues are linked and imperative to maintain a high quality of life that reflects the Ohio Promise.
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 a novice guitar player. I was taking lessons at Cuyahoga Community College and play with Guitar for Vets at charity events. I do not practice enough but one day hope to actually get pretty good. If anyone wants to start a band, let me know – I’m in!