Class of 2020 Endorsed Candidate: Monique Smith
Building on her experience as an elected city councilwoman in Lakewood from 2010 to 2014, Smith is poised to bring fresh leadership to the State House. As part of the council leadership team, she shepherded in a new era of fiscal responsibility and innovation that turned the city around. Monique will fight to restore Ohio’s Promise by placing focus on economic opportunity, expanded health care & access, support for Ohio’s public schools & higher education, and safety for Ohio’s families.
Meet the Candidate: Monique Smith
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?
When circumstances feel challenging, disappointing or hopeless, I find that actively working toward positive change helps me to find hope. I think this approach is what has driven me throughout my adult life to do things like join Americorps, volunteer for community groups or political campaigns, and even serve as a local city councilwoman from 2010-2014. Later, in response to endless news stories of mass shootings, I began volunteering and advocating for legislative changes through Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. When I realized that my own State Representative was not reflecting my values or those of my district in his voting record on this issue, I became disappointed and started asking myself what more could be done. Then, when he again failed to represent his district’s values by voting for Ohio’s law banning abortions after 6 weeks of pregnancy – with no exceptions for the health of the mother or instances of rape or incest – I knew that he had crossed an unacceptable line and that I should find a woman to run against him. When I saw that no women were interested in running, I decided I would take all the experience I had gained in public service over the years and challenge him myself.
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.
This may not be a unique answer, but I think my mother’s strength really led me to believe that the lives and contributions of women and girls are valuable and that we should be seen, heard, protected and valued. As a child, I watched my mother go to great lengths to ensure that she, my sister and I were able to escape the violence of my father during her marriage to him. She showed me that our lives were worth protecting even if it meant moving far away from him for our safety and then struggling for years to maintain stable lives without his support. I think her example and our shared life experiences drive me to speak up for others and try to protect women and children. When my own state representative voted in favor of an Ohio abortion ban that did not make any exceptions for the life or health of the mother, I believe it was my mother’s example which drove me to stand up for myself and other women by deciding to run against him.
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?
My role as a mother of two young children reminds me constantly to think of the future as I make choices about how to live and what to devote my energy to today. Because of them, I am more driven to want healthy, fulfilling lives for current and future generations. They give me a sense of urgency around the need to create an Ohio that offers a healthy environment, justice and for safety for all Ohioans. As my daughter grows, I want to ensure that she lives in a world where she always has dominion over her own body. And I want all children to receive the education they need to succeed. As a mother, I want to work for these things for the well-being of my own children and all Ohioans.
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?
My vision for Ohio is 2028 is that our state will be led by a woman governor, at least one woman in the U.S. Senate and a pro-woman majority in our state house. In my vision, these factors will have led our state to finally achieving things like a constitutional school funding system, affordable and full health care access for all Ohioans, safer gun laws, paid family leave, affordable child care and a livable wage for all Ohioans.
5) Tip O’Neill famously said that “all politics is local.” What are the top-two issues your community or our state face today?
1. Education – Public School funding and resources that serve the needs of families (particularly working women) during the pandemic and maintain our district’s excellent schools without continuing to rely so heavily on levies and local property taxes.
2. Workforce Support – relief for small business losses due to COVID; relief for unemployed workers due to COVID; connecting workers to local job opportunities; paid family leave; quality affordable childcare.
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 love to dance, sing or hum along to music and can often even be found doing any or all of the above in my minivan or a grocery store aisle.