Barberton City Council, Ward 1
Northeast Ohio, Local
Shannon Wokojance has served on the Barberton City Council since 2016. Her election marked a historic event for Barberton. Shannon, along with 5 other women made up the first majority female board. During her time as a council member she has worked to support women and families by fighting for paid paternal leave. Shannon is passionate about giving the community a voice. She has worked at all levels of government, providing her a unique perspective.Facebook
Meet the Candidate
Can you tell our members a little bit about your journey to filing as a candidate?
While in graduate school at The Ohio State University, I took a class on Women in Politics. This class sparked my passion to help women have equal representation and also inspired me to have my own political aspirations. When I moved back to Barberton from Columbus, I wanted to get involved and started attending council meetings. It was not a very welcoming place, but I wanted to change that. The council was dominated by men and had been for a very long time. I knew I wanted myself and other women to have a seat at the table. So, in 2015 I decided to take action and run for the Barberton ward 1 seat. I did not really know what to do and found the process confusing, but I asked questions and jumped into action. I only discovered the filing deadline 24 hours before petitions were due. So, I hit the pavement going door to door in my neighborhood to get all the signatures needed to be on the ballot and accomplished this in a few hours.
Tell our members about a friend or family member who inspired you to become a leader.
My aunt, Karen Speck, was my biggest fan and supporter. She saw something in me from the time I was a little girl and always told me that I was going to be an advocate and activist because of my passion for justice and strong sense of right and wrong. She made sure I had opportunities to be involved in student activities, would make sure I always had a new picture outfit (when my parents could not afford extras), and helped me apply to college. She was my best friend and we would talk several times a day. I miss her so much since she lost her battle with breast cancer in 2012, so I fight for what’s right and work hard in hopes that I continue to make her proud.
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?
One of the most life changing experiences for me was when I was hired as a victim advocate for the Victim Assistance Program of Summit County. That was a true turning point in my life that opened many doors. I knew then that advocacy was my calling and it was an opportunity to fight for women and children. When I have the honor to stand by people on some of the worst days of their lives, I know I am making a true difference by being the person that can create a safe and secure place, where victims can talk to someone who will validate, not judge, and when they have someone to help plan what is next in the hours, weeks, and months to come after a traumatic experience.
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 is multi-faceted. First, for my city, I imagine a bustling downtown, improved and updated infrastructure, and a community brand that says to those who come to Barberton that “this is Barberton and we are the place to be.” For my county, I imagine continued regionalization of services in order to leverage limited funds and a stronger network of non-profit organizations working together to provide comprehensive services for community needs. For this Great State of Ohio, I envision leaders who put aside party politics to work towards real positive change, who continue to fight for women’s rights and equality, who protect and stand with workers and unions, and who finally develop a solution regarding school funding (let’s face it…this is way past due.)
Second, I believe that it is important to have diversity and inclusion. There needs to be balance of ideas and backgrounds, which as a state we are lacking. All levels of state government are ran by one political party. Where do checks and balances come in then? I warn that it is never good for one person or one group of people to hold all the power. It is a dangerous road.
Tip O’Neill famously said that “all politics is local.” What are the top-two issues your community or our state face today?
The first issue is that citizens have lost faith in the system because politics has become a private club at all levels. As a leaders, it is our job to make the democratic process welcoming and easy to understand. Encouraging civic engagement is a must and we can do better. When we have greater “buy-in” we will able to work together and accomplish much more from local communities to our nation as a whole.
Tell us something personal about yourself.
With Eastern European heritage, I studied Czech and Polish language at Ohio State and studied in both countries. I love Polka and specialty beers. My favorite beer is Krusovice.