State Senate, District 13
Northeast Ohio, State Legislature
Sharon Sweda exemplifies the qualities we look for in a candidate and we are excited to endorse her. A community leader and small business owner, we know she will work hard to create an economy in which women can thrive and prosper in Ohio.
In 2019, Sharon was appointed to the Lorain County Commision.
Senate District 13 is in the Cleveland metro area and includes the cities of Norwalk, Lorain, Bellevue, Avon Lake, Avon and Oberlin. 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?
Like so many others, I woke up the morning after Election Day 2016 in a haze of confusion and anxiety. The results were disheartening, and even frightening, but in my heart, I still had hope that we would come together as a country to work through the inevitable period of unrest. But then January came around. Then February. Then March. Then April. Nothing was getting better—the polarization was as bad as it had ever been. I knew the stats on State Senate races: that no Democrat had flipped a State Senate seat since 2006, that we only held nine seats across the Senate. I didn’t care. Over my career, I’ve worked on agreements that bring together members of both sides in a field dominated by Republicans. My entire professional life has been spent negotiating, and I filed for candidacy because I knew that my life experience could help others. I made the choice to run because we need a change in leadership in our district, and I am working to fill that void.
Tell our members about a friend or family member who inspired you to become a leader.
My father was a simple man. He worked at the Ford Motor Company as a machinist and was a part of the local UAW 425 union. My earliest political lessons came from my dad at the kitchen table. He sat me down, read the slate of union-endorsed candidates and explained to me why we were Democrats and why we were voting for union candidates. I never forgot those lessons: lessons about the importance of hard work and commitment. More than anything, my father gave me my work ethic and my moral compass. The lessons that I learned at that kitchen table are the ones that I’ve taken with me throughout my professional life and in this campaign. My dad always told me that I could do anything I set my mind to, and that empowerment has led me to finding solutions for our district.
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 both my professional and personal life, I have always fought for the underdog, having been one myself many times. I mentioned this above, but I learned my political lessons at the kitchen table, watching my father review union-endorsed candidates. In 1972, I started attending night classes to obtain my real estate license. After graduating, I entered the industry and soon began working with underserved groups after observing discriminatory practices in the field. In 1989, I started a real estate brokerage and building company with my husband. Together, we were able to grow our small business into a seven-branch firm of nearly 150 agents, prior to selling our business in 2004.
In the 35+ years I’ve been working in the district, I’ve seen the rise and fall of our communities. I remember a time when U.S. Steel was manufacturing for the rest of the nation. I remember a time when Ford and General Motors were lifting our economy. District 13 has seen times of struggle and times of prosperity; times of hardship and times of joy. But since the 2008 Recession and the Housing Collapse, we’ve struggled to recover. It’s a struggle I know well: one that my family and I have experienced firsthand. More than anything, we’ve needed leadership to step up, roll up their sleeves and work to help find solutions. And I believe my experience in business has given me the tools to do just that.
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 in 2028 is that both District 13 and the governor’s office will be on their third term of Democratic control, that we will have taken back the Ohio House and Senate and that I will have helped the Matriots succeed in their Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal!
Tip O’Neill famously said that “all politics is local.” What are the top-two issues your community or our state face today?
1. Local government funding. The current state legislature has shifted more than $1 billion in tax burden from the state to counties and townships since 2010, according to a study by Policy Matters Ohio. We need to stop subsidizing Ohio’s perceived prosperity on the backs of our hardest workers.
2. The disparity that exists in terms of stability (e.g., economic opportunity, equitable pay, affordable housing/healthcare, etc.) between those in positions of power and influence and our underserved communities, including women, LGBTQ+ and our communities of color.
Tell us something personal about yourself.
My husband and I once owned a small bakery, a sporting-goods store and a stable of horses. I’ve never been afraid to try things, and that includes running for office!