Class of 2020 Endorsed Candidate: Sara Bitter
Sara Bitter is a mother, a lawyer and a disability rights advocate who is running to be the Ohio State House Representative for District 27. Sara’s personal and professional passion of advocating for people with disabilities, mental health conditions, addiction issues, and their caregivers, is key part of her campaign. When elected, Sara will be a voice for those individuals and will fight for legislation that gives access to mental health education for students in grades K-12 in Ohio. Sara has a BA in Political Science from the University of Cincinnati, and a JD from Case Western Reserve University School of Law. Sara’s professional experience includes roles at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, the White House (during the Clinton Administration), as well as numerous advisory roles for volunteer organizations.
Meet the Candidate: Sara Bitter
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 am a mom of two children living with a developmental disability. Like almost every caregiver of a child with special needs, I have learned firsthand the importance of access to good health care, education, jobs, housing and transportation. And this does not just apply to parents with kids living with special needs. It also applies to families who have a loved one who is affected by a mental health condition, families affected by the opioid crisis, our elderly, and many of our veterans.
I am running for State Representative in House District 27 because I want to bring new perspectives and voices, including those of caregivers, to the legislature in Columbus by creating a Disability, Mental Health and Addiction Caucus.
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.
My family faced major challenges early in my life: My father was an alcoholic. By the time I was four years old, my mother became a single mom to my brother, my sister and me. So, for many years, she had to raise and support us on her own. She did a very good job, because she is an extremely strong woman and saved and managed the money she earned as a nurse well: She was able to afford a home for us in a neighborhood with good public schools. We had health insurance. We went to good public schools. And she taught us the importance of voting! She took classes in the evenings and eventually received her bachelor’s degree in nursing. She then went on to earn her master’s degree and eventually taught nursing at Sinclair Community College. That taught me that it is never too late to make things better for us and our families. That is why I am running for office and that is why my slogan is “Bitter for Better.”
3) Some of you are military veterans, some small business owners, some professionals, some mothers and grandmothers, some homemakers. How did one of these experiences shape who you are as a person and a leader?
I have had many different jobs in my life: I started my first job when I was in high school and worked all through college and law school. But I got my first “real” job after graduating from college. It was pretty exciting: I worked in the West Wing of the White House as the Assistant to the Special Counsel to the President during the Clinton Administration. My boss was a woman with three children. She was my first mentor. I learned a lot of my current leadership skills from her. And the job gave me amazing insights into politics and how our executive and legislature work.
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 also want to see 50% of all elected offices in Ohio held by women in 2028.
I want to see Ohio make it through this pandemic. I want to see major improvements in public health systems in Ohio. I want to real change in the Ohio legislature as public trust has been diminished. I want to see public education properly funded, more teachers hired and with higher salaries. I want to see modernization in schooling so that all Ohio students receive an excellent education. I want to see a robust investment in workforce training to give workers job security and good paying careers. And I want to see Ohioans not having to worry about their health care coverage and costs. I want to see the opioid epidemic in Ohio eliminated. I want to work on the Caregiver Crisis in Ohio and get better wages, trainings, insurance benefits for Direct Care Workers who care for our elderly and people living with disabilities. We can do better on so many things!
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. Health care: the Covid-19 crisis, high costs and lack of access to care (with an emphasis on lack mental health care services, including treatment and therapy for addiction).
2. Workforce: Unemployment is increasing which will cause an economic crisis. We will need better training programs for the unemployed and better transportation so people can get to work.
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.
My husband is German. We met in law school at Case Western Reserve in Cleveland, Ohio. Within two weeks of our first meeting, we knew we would get married and move to Germany for some time. While we lived there for 5 years, I learned to speak German and we traveled throughout Germany and Europe. Our older son was also born there.