Class of 2020 Endorsed Candidate: Deborah Lieberman
In her third term as a County Commissioner, Deborah has staunchly supported high-quality, early childhood education as an economic driver. Her public service began shortly after her graduation from law school and a short stint in the private sector. Her community leadership has been varied and impactful – from elected office to serve on boards and commissions. Upon her re-election, she plans to continue to influence policy for the good of women and families, especially in the areas of education, as well as the impact of the arts and culture on economic development.
Meet the Candidate
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?
My family has a long history of public service. I always believed that I would run for public office one day. Working for the Montgomery County Auditor for many years, I saw how the public needs local government every day.
My journey really began in the 1990s, when my local township started a merger with an adjoining village. I ran for and was elected to the Merger Committee which led to serving on the Clayton City Council and eventually to running for County Commissioner for the first time in 2004 and I am proud to have served as Montgomery County Commissioner ever since.
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.
Growing up in Indianapolis (among other locations), I saw my mother break barrier after barrier although I may not have realized the full impact at the time. She worked in politics and served in the Mayor’s office. Seeing her interact with the most powerful local politicians at the time was both awe-inspiring and an encouragement to me to pursue a career in public service.
My father is an educator who inspired me in different ways. He was Headmaster at a number of different Christian schools throughout the country. He eventually served as a Deputy Secretary of Education for both the Reagan H.W. Bush Administrations. His dedication to the kids he taught made me want to make sure every child has the best opportunities to succeed in life.
3) Some of you are military veterans, some businesspeople, some professionals, some homemakers. How did one of these jobs shape who you are as a person and a leader?
I have been fortunate to have both a family and a professional career. I have two sons. I have experienced the challenges of raising a family and having a career. My time with the Montgomery County Auditor’s Office allowed me to progress professionally, eventually becoming Chief Deputy Auditor. I am extremely proud of my adult sons but part of me wished I could have spent more time with them growing up. My personal and professional experiences have helped make me a more compassionate leader and helped me more fully understand the challenges the most at-risk individuals in our community face.
4) The Matriots PAC has a Big Hairy Audacious Goal to see 50% of all elected offices in Ohio held by women by 2028. What is your vision for Ohio in 2028?
I see stigma as a major challenge for so many people today. The stigma of being a woman in politics, the stigma of seeking mental health or addiction treatment, the stigma of needing assistance like food stamps, the stigma of being transgender, of supporting climate change, of being in foster care, of being a returning citizen.
In Dayton and Montgomery County, we had a very tragic and challenging 2019. Our community came together in ways you cannot even describe. Neighbors helping neighbors, strangers stopping their cars to make sure strangers were OK. It was remarkable. I hope as a society, we can capture some of that energy, passion, and compassion in our everyday lives.
5) Tip O’Neill famously said that “all politics is local.” What are the top-two issues your community or our state face today?
Montgomery County is facing a wide variety of issues that we continue to address. Our two biggest issues are concentrated and generational poverty and the ongoing opioid epidemic. I have worked to bring new ideas, resources, and accountability to these issues as a county commissioner. When we worked together by bringing all of the stakeholders together, my community has seen a significant improvement in these areas. Our accidental overdose death rate has fallen by over 50% and stabilized over the last 18 months.
We are establishing a new pilot program in 2020, “The Path Ahead” to help guide individuals and families from poverty to self-sufficiency. If we can prove the model, we will work to make it the standard for working with families experiencing poverty.
6) Now for fun: Tell us something personal about yourself. It can be a hobby, your favorite food, a funny pet story, something we might not know about you that you would like to share with our members.
I have always secretly wanted to be a race car driver. I think the adrenaline rush would be amazing. Better than winning elections but not as good as spending time with the people I hold most dear, my husband Dennis and my two sons, David and DJ.