Class of 2020 Endorsed Candidate: Sandra Kurt
Sandra Kurt has been a Clerk of Courts in Summit County since January 2016. In her time of service, she has introduced electronic filing for cases in Summit County, which has increased productivity and saved taxpayer money. Before becoming Clerk of Courts, Sandra was on the Summit County Council for five years, where she was elected twice as Vice President of Council, and she spent 30 years in industrial engineering before entering public office. Sandra is an active supporter of Planned Parenthood, the NAACP, NARAL, and the League of Women Voters. If re-elected, Sandra plans to continue to modernize operations at the Clerk’s Office while developing positive relationships with her constituents.
Meet the Candidate: Sandra Kurt
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 never saw public office in my future! I had my hands full with my career as an Industrial Engineer at a major manufacturing company and grassroots activism for LGBTQ+ rights in my personal time. Then, in 2005, I got involved with a local political group, through which I volunteered on campaigns and got to know many of our local elected officials. That exposure removed the mystery and made being a candidate a concrete possibility. When my City Council seat came open, friends encouraged me to run. Since a huge stormwater infrastructure project was on the horizon, it was the right time for an engineer to run for Council!
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 have to say my mother is my inspiration. She always wished she had the opportunity to go to college but, growing up on a farm during the Depression, education was not a priority for anyone but especially not for a girl. My pragmatism and determination come from her, as well as my appreciation for all the good things in my life. Mom taught me to look on the bright side when life is difficult or things look bleak; “It could always be worse.” That attitude can be a lifesaver in politics! Unfortunately, she passed away 25 years ago and never got to see me in my political career.
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 30 years in corporate America as the only woman in my department taught me how to work with white men who generally only see other white men as leaders. It also taught me how critical it is to have connections with others who share your experience and perspective, as a woman or LGBTQ person or any other minority. I had one manager in particular who stood out because he was so different from all the others – he surrounded himself with smart people who weren’t afraid to be honest and direct with him. He didn’t need to be the smartest person in the room, and as a result his team gave their all and were very loyal.
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 optimistic that due to reforms passed by the voters, we will have fairer and more competitive districts. Without gerrymandering, we will elect legislators, including many more women, people of color, and LGBTQ+ people, who value compromise in the effort to pass effective legislation benefitting the average hard-working Ohioan.
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 have to say the top two issues are probably common throughout Ohio – controlling infections of the Coronavirus and addressing the economic impact of the pandemic. As an employer, my office is impacted by staff who can’t get child care or who are quarantining due to exposure. The economic impact is already hitting my office budget due to decreased revenue, and I fully expect this financial situation will continue through 2021.
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 any kind of “behind-the-scenes” tour or experience. Last year, I had the opportunity to observe, up close and personal, a controlled prairie burn in one of the Summit Metro Parks. I felt anticipation and suspense as they set the fire, excitement as the fire spread, and appreciation for the power of the fire as the flames grew to be up to 20 feet high as well as for the expertise of the rangers and staff who managed the burn. I was surprised, walking through after the flames were gone, to see mice emerging from hiding spots in the ground, looking for new cover. It was an incredible experience.