Class of 2020 Endorsed Candidate: Michelle E. Novak
Michelle E. Novak promises to be a tireless advocate for all Ohioans. She has seen first-hand the effects of poverty on the opportunities for children and families, as well as the effects of the drug epidemic and addiction, the challenges of our current health system, and the impact of state education policy on our local economy. Michelle has been a nonprofit leader, an elected member of the Middletown City School District’s Board of Education, treasurer of the Central Academy PTO, and she has served on the Montgomery County Public Health LGBTQ coalition and the Chamber of Commerce Leadership Committee. If elected, she plans to prioritize a fair and stable economy, accessible education, and public safety.
Meet the Candidate: Michelle Novak
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 been a member of the Middletown City School District board of education for over four years now. As a school board member, I was really excited about the progress our district was making. I was heavily involved with the Ohio School Board Association as part of the Urban Network, the Diversity and Equity Committee, and as a member of the Black Caucus. As my local district improved, around every corner it seemed that the state was putting obstacles in our path. I also so the impact of poverty, lack of healthcare access, the drug epidemic, and other societal issues on students and their learning and things didn’t seem to be getting better. In fact, the state policy seemed to reinforce negative cycles in our communities. I realized that we weren’t really going to be able to make the real changes without partnerships at the state level. I decided to run for state representative to remove obstacles from our communities so we can make real progress and so all people would have a chance at success.
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.
I don’t really have any one woman in particular that has inspired me to be a leader. I think that for me, my inspiration comes from a legacy of women throughout history, that have been the ocean swell of strength behind community. It is the wise women, the healers, the supporters, the mothers, the grandmothers, the wives, the daughters, the givers, and as a whole together, they have been the passion and force behind community that has held us together for generations. I just want to take my place as part of that legacy that will support future generations.
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?
It is my journey as a mother that has really shaped who I am as a person and as a leader. I had my daughter when I was single and I was very young. I grew up quickly and I had to learn to be responsible for someone else and myself at the same time. I embraced the challenge and overcame a lot of obstacles. I had countless helpers along the way that helped me to live a very full and fulfilling life. The overwhelming gratitude that I feel has compelled me to serve my community and fight for people to also have opportunities for a good life. Because of this experience, I lead with conviction, courage, passion, love, and devotion. I am resolute in what I am doing and I am a fierce advocate.
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?
As I learn, I teach and bring people along with me. I hope to eliminate myths about who can be in office and who cannot. I hope to inspire others that they have what it takes to serve in many different capacities because their experiences have value. I am driven and determined so I do not think very much about the fact that there is not anyone who looks like me in the statehouse. But I know that by getting elected to this seat, I am doing something historical and I just hope that it will make it easier for others in the future who are on this path.
5) Tip O’Neill famously said that “all politics is local.” What are the top-two issues your community or our state face today?
I will always believe that education is an investment in our children, our future, our economy, the health of our democracy, and the health of our community. The economy is also in my top two. The two interact with each other to form either negative cycles or positive cycles. Getting education and the economy right will help countless other issues within our communities to improve. But then I also think that the integrity of our democracy is in trouble and that urgently needs to be corrected to give people confidence in our political systems. I am not a one or two issue candidate. I look at issues as ecosystems impacting one another and will focus on many issues while in office.
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.
Having balance in my life is very important to me and helps me to do the heavy lifts. I find respite and peace when I am driving long distances, hiking, or camping. One of my favorite escapes is Hocking Hills.