State Representative, District 53
Southwest Ohio, State Legislature
We are excited to endorse Rebecca Howard for Ohio House District 53. A lifelong resident of Butler County, she has the experience needed to be a strong voice for her community and we know she will work hard for them.
House District 53 includes Middletown, Oxford and Monroe. Click here to find the elected officials in your district.
Meet the Candidate
Can you tell our members a little bit about your journey to filing as a candidate?
I have never run for office before, though I considered running for the local school board. Until 2014, however, I was running a business and teaching part-time at Miami, as well as being involved with a couple of time-intensive community non-profits. I would not put time and effort into a bid for office unless I was able to fully commit to the office itself, so chose not to run. I tell people now that, while I am politically inexperienced, I am not politically naïve. The representative seat in the state legislative district in which I live (the 53rd) has consistently been held by a Republican for several decades. The person who held that seat for three terms previous to the current rep was well liked by individuals across the political spectrum, and treated all of his constituents with respect and compassion. Even though I disagreed with 90% of his policy positions, I never felt that he was ill-informed or dismissive of constituent concerns. That has all changed. The current rep is a far-right, evangelical individual who has not only alienated the local Republican Party leadership, but has alienated most of her constituents as well. She has a very narrow agenda that represents only her desire to 1) remove all restrictions on gun ownership, open carry, and stand your ground; and 2) completely eliminate abortion without exception. She does not connect in any meaningful way with constituents who do not agree with her, and has been inflammatory, dismissive, and hostile to constituents on social media who question her.
Observing her behavior, it became clear to me that someone needed to mount a viable challenge to her agenda. I decided that, since I am now in a position in which I am able to commit fully to a campaign and an elected office, that it is time for me to stand up and step out. I want to make it clear that I am not just running on a platform of “vote for me because my opponent is worse”; on the contrary, regardless of my opponent, I believe that my experiences, both personal and professional, and my position within the communities of the 53rd district have uniquely prepared me to be a strong representative for ALL residents of this district. I am aware that the fact that my opponent has demonstrated her lack of concern, compassion, and care for all of her constituents will benefit my campaign, and I intend to make sure that voters recognize that she has done little to address issues of real concern to most voters.
Tell our members about a friend or family member who inspired you to become a leader.
I have benefitted from the inspiration of many individuals throughout my life: my fifth-grade teacher, who taught me to accept responsibility for my privilege; my high-school theater teacher, who taught me to believe in myself and take chances; professional mentors, such as the assistant dean who encouraged and helped me to complete my undergraduate degree as a “non-traditional” student, and my employer from my first real job, who modeled the willingness to take risks and practice what you preach; and parents who enrolled their children in my early childhood program and reinforced my belief that I had something important to contribute and there are people who will join me on that journey.
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?
In 1986, I opened up an early childhood facility, providing early education and care to children in the Oxford area. I had very little financial backing (a $10K loan co-signed by my mother), and no practical accounting or other business experience. But I had a vision, and I had accumulated not only confidence in my teaching philosophy, but also knowledge about the administrative demands of a highly regulated, yet seriously undervalued profession. I took that leap of faith, and it paid off. I owned the Oxford Early Childhood Center from 1986-1995, then bought it back in 2005 and ran it until we finally made the decision to close in 2014. In those 28 years, we gave hundreds of children and families a high-quality early education. I have also, for the total 40 years of my ECEC career, advocated for increased recognition, respect, and compensation for people who work in the field. The experience of running a business that provides a service and is based on a personal philosophy that has to be successfully implemented by others, has given me confidence as well as introducing me to a broad range of children, families, and coworkers who face many different challenges on a daily basis, often with no one to support or advocate for them. I think this helped me learn what is one of the most important skills an elected representative should have: the ability to be the “voice” for a person in need WITHOUT taking over that person’s individual agency and dignity—“advocacy” means listening AND speaking.
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?
I like that goal. I would also like to see a much more equitable representation of people of color and individuals from a wider variety of socioeconomic demographics finding their way into positions of leadership.
Tip O’Neill famously said that “all politics is local.” What are the top-two issues your community or our state face today?
You don’t have to look farther than the leadership in the state house to see the scandals that speak to two of the most pressing issues: one is the challenge to public education support and funding (reflected in the ECOT scandal); and the other is the corruption of our system of liberal democracy by corporate influence over individual politicians (reflected in the payday-lending scandal that led to the resignation of the Ohio Speaker of the House). Locally, however, in the 53rd district there are actually three issues that I hear about consistently: 1) the opioid epidemic (Middletown, the largest city in this district, has one of the highest overdose/death rates in the state)—people are rightly frustrated that there is insufficient coordination and support for both short term rehab AND long term recovery, and they recognize that throwing more people in jail doesn’t make a difference, but often serves to reinforce the sense of hopelessness that addicts and their families feel; 2) the lack of substantive, well paying, full-time, benefit-package jobs in the region, and the threat to pensions and retirement plans; and 3) fears regarding the stability and affordability of health care options in general, including increasing insurance rates as a result of changes to the ACA, as well as concerns that insurers will again begin denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions.
Tell us something personal about yourself.
I have what some may consider to be a quirky hobby for a grown-up: Legos.
Some of this comes from my career as an educator, but the fact is that I find building with Legos to be creative, relaxing, engaging, and fun. In response to the raised eyebrows I sometimes get when people learn of this interest, I defend my choice by explaining that, when you get right down to it, building with Legos is no more odd of an activity than putting together jigsaw puzzles, but it is far more creative.