Class of 2020 Endorsed Candidate: Connie Pillich
Connie Pillich is a former US Air Force Captain and Ohio State Representative running for Hamilton County Commissioner. As a commissioner, Connie will impact the lives of women and families in a positive way through job training, access to jobs, public transportation, infant mortality, and maternal health. Connie has never stopped fighting for women and children, it is simply who she is, and she will continue this fight as a Hamilton County Commissioner.
Meet the Candidate: Connie Pillich
1) In your interview with the Endorsement Committee, you shared a personal life experience that led you to the decision to run for office? Can you tell our members a little bit about your journey to filing as a candidate?
I have always been drawn to service. I must have learned this from my parents. My mom was a teacher who, in the summers, worked with special needs children. I would tag along with her. My dad’s big project was to raise money to expand our town’s only hospital. Decades later, he spent his last days in that very hospital, cared for by people I had gone to high school with. His efforts made it possible for my old classmates to have jobs, and raise their own families, in that town.
Even though I followed my parents’ example and volunteered for service-related activities, I never thought I would become a state representative or run for governor or the county commission. But there were two events that pushed me. One was the school funding crisis in Ohio. Second, the issues in the state treasurer’s office that led to indictments, ran the treasurer out of Columbus and ultimately contributed to the decimation of our state pensions. I ran for state representative.
I decided to run for county commissioner because the man whose seat I am running for was forced into retirement due to his health. Todd Portune epitomized selfless service. He believed I could best carry on his dedication and commitment. And there is a great deal of good that can be accomplished by the county commission if we have a servant leader in that position.
2) Many of you cited a family member whose strength was an inspiration to you. Tell our members about a friend or family member who inspired you to become a leader.
One of my sisters (I have three) planted the seed. She is four years older than me and battled the cultural sexism of the day. Her courage opened doors for me. She routinely shared advice with me, such as what classes to take to be college-ready and how to discuss plans with my guidance counselor. She is also the one who, when an ROTC commercial aired on TV, suggested, “You should try that, Connie. You’d be good at that.” She was right.
3) Some of you are teachers, some businesspeople, some professionals, some homemakers, how have your career and life experiences shaped who you are as a person and a leader?
Certainly, all of my life experiences have shaped who I am today. Growing up in a big family, I learned to get along with others. I grew self-confidence when my girlfriends and I decided to join the (boys) swim team. I was the slowest person on the team but got in great shape – something that would come in very handy in the military. I’ve always been drawn to service-related activities. But that initial push to pursue the military as a means to pay for college was pretty key. ROTC and active duty service helped me grow into a confident, resilient, and creative leader. I learned decision-making tools that I still use today. I learned people-management skills that helped me turn an organization with low morale into a cohesive operating team. I also developed the discipline to work the long hard campaign.
4) The Matriots PAC has a goal to see 50% of elected offices in Ohio held by women by 2028. What is your vision for your community in 2028?
We have an unprecedented number of women running locally at this time, and I would like to see this trend continue. I love to mentor candidates and last year I designed campaign fundraising training for our local Democratic candidates. New women candidates often find fundraising daunting. Helping them develop the knowledge and skills they need will make them more viable candidates.
5) Tip O’Neill famously said that “all politics is local.” What are the top-two issues your community or state face today?
In Cincinnati, the top issue is our infrastructure. We have an obsolete and overburdened sewer system that has failed to meet the standards of the Clean Water Act for many years. Internal squabbling and leadership changes have halted progress. In addition, our Western Hills Viaduct, a key artery to the west side of Cincinnati, is literally falling apart. These infrastructure projects will be my number one issue if I am elected. The second top issue is to protect children. We have the highest infant mortality rate in Ohio. And third, we must end the Bengals Stadium sales tax. Folks are fed up with this tax.
6) Now for fun: Tell us something personal about yourself. It can be a hobby, your favorite food, or something that we might not know about you that you would like to share with our members.
My Sunday morning running group (now a walking group) has been meeting weekly for 24 years.