Class of 2020 Endorsed Candidate: Melissa Wilde
Melissa Wilde, a business owner and Violet Township Trustee, has served on Pickerington City Council, where she worked to cultivate diversity, in part by helping to place a woman and minority on every single board and commission. If elected, she hopes to transform health care and education through female collaboration.
Meet the Candidate: Melissa Wilde
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?
As a former member of Pickerington City Council and current Trustee for Violet Township, I have always fought hard to bring more female voices to every single table. I believe that our boards, commissions, and councils should all reflect the communities we serve.
Last year, I received a call from a woman who told me that I was her only female representative. As we talked, I realized she was not actually in my township. Where she lived, she did not have a female representative who could fight for her. She didn’t have a representative that she felt comfortable sharing her story with. In fact, our district has always been this way. Our district has never elected a woman at the state level. Somewhere between walking into rooms as the only woman, having men incorrectly address my husband as Trustee Wilde, and realizing that the women in my district do not have the same representation as men, I knew we had to work harder for equal representation. That is why I chose to run for Ohio House.
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.
During my first days as a Councilwoman for the City of Pickerington, I was in the council chambers with a group of third graders. One of the girls counted the seats and realized that there were “9 seats for boys and only 3 for girls” and declared that to be “unfair.” I ran for City Council as a young mom with her background in Public Administration hoping to bring some diversity to the table and give back to her community, but this moment made me realize I also had a responsibility to pave a path for our girls. I am a mother of two amazing girls, and they inspired me to become a leader. They are passionate and unafraid to fight for the world they want to live in. They expect the world to welcome them into leadership positions, and I want that to be true. I want the world to be ready for them.
Growing up I didn’t see many women at the table, so it always seemed like only the very best women could achieve leadership status in the political arena. The moment I started believing that women could lead was in 2001. I was a student when Rhine McLin was elected as the Mayor of Dayton. Seeing a woman become the Mayor of Dayton made possible something that I had never dreamed before. Our girls need to see women in leadership normalized.
3) Some of you are teachers, some businesspeople, some professionals, some homemakers. How has your career and life experiences shaped who you are as a person and a leader?
As a military dependent during my childhood and during my first six years of marriage, I had the great experience of living across the country and meeting many different people. This has shaped my view of the world and shown me the beauty of diversity. Being a mom has also significantly shaped how I see people. I have three children, each of them very different from everyone else in the Wilde home. They have taught me how to love well and treat people the way they want to be treated. My children have taught me patience and perseverence. They continue to show me new parts of our world through different perspectives. Their pain is my pain, and their joy is mine. Every single person on our planet is someone’s child, and being a mom has made me a fierce defender for all people.
4) 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 am excited for the day when at least half of the folks at the table are women. I notice that when placed in a group of men, the territorial power struggles emerge. Women make decisions differently. Women are more collaborative and truly believe that by working together and compromising, we make better, more effective decisions. In 2028, we will see schools properly funded, seniors will be able to afford their medications, and our government will be more transparent and accessible. Women will take care of the things that matter to our families and our communities.
5) Tip O’Neill famously said that “all politics is local.” What are the top-two issues your community or our state face today?
During the pandemic, there are two issues that have become very clear. For years, we have talked about the importance of expanding access to the internet for every single family in my county. This was never seen as a priority. Now, we have areas struggling because they can’t work at home and their children don’t have the ability to do their school work without sitting in a parking lot. Access to broadband is no longer a luxury. This is a necessity that will determine the success of students, employees, and businesses.
School funding is also a really big problem, not only in my district, but across Ohio. Our schools do not have the proper resources in a normal year, let alone in these circumstances. We have districts that do not have enough devices for every single student. In a world where our schools need more resources to adapt to hybrid and online learning, we have yet again stripped money away from schools. We must make sure that they are properly funded.
6) Now for fun: Tell us something personal about yourself. It can be a hobby, your favorite food or something we might not know about you that you would like to share with our members.
I have lived in 19 homes across 5 states and 2 countries. Because of my upbringing, traveling as a Navy brat and being the granddaughter of farmers, I’m equally as comfortable walking around cow pastures as I am in the middle of a large city. I love it all. I love the lights of a city, the new foods, and being surrounded by people. I equally love being in nature with just my family and all the animals.