Class of 2020 Endorsed Candidate: Tavia Galonski

Tavia Galonski is the current Representative for the Ohio House of Representatives, 35th District. Tavia was first endorsed by The Matriots in 2018. Along with other accolades, she is a founding member of the Black Maternal Health Caucus and a member of the Ohio Democratic Legislative Women’s Caucus. Tavia worked her way through law school as a flight attendant for Delta Airlines. An attorney by trade, she previously served as a magistrate in the Summit County Court of Common Pleas, including in the county’s juvenile court. Prior to her judicial service she was a community aid attorney who represented victims of domestic abuse. In the Legislature, The Matriots can count on Tavia to fight for policies that keep families together, put Summit County back to work, and create more opportunities for all of us.

In 2021, Representative Tavia Galonski will serve in the 134th Ohio General Assembly.


Meet The Candidate

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 woke up the day after the 2016 presidential election and was shocked that Donald Trump won. I was worried about how I was going to get out of bed and go downstairs to tell my kids. My daughter actually said to me when I told her, “Quit it mom and go get daddy!” She did not believe me. I immediately realized that a lot of people would be hurting and I was going to have to do more to help a large number of people. By 2016, I had run for Judge twice and was considering a third run. What came next was a silent prayer that maybe I no longer wanted to pursue being a judge and rather, I would listen to the direction God wanted my life to take. I agreed to be open to whatever was put in my path. I had never considered becoming a legislator, but when Emilia Sykes called me in early March of 2017 to ask me if I would, I said YES.

2) Many of you cited a specific person whose strength was an inspiration to you. Can you tell me about a woman who has had a big influence on your life and inspired you to become a leader? What lessons did she teach you?  

My mother was my first love. Before we had to place her in an assisted living facility for dementia, my mother (Dr. Hazel Jackson) was on her 8th book and was considered the intellectual matriarch of our family. She taught me love, compassion, and she taught me that public service was a requirement. One summer, we had moved to a new apartment and we did not have a television. She told me that there were plenty of books to read and if I was good, we could go to the library every once in a while. That was a great summer and I realized education was a winning lottery ticket. The more education you have, the further you can go, and really that winning lottery ticker, the sky is the limit. I feel lazy that I haven’t written any books. But my mother taught me that it is never too late to pursue any of your dreams, so I might just write a book soon.

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?

My experience as a mother has shaped me deeply as a person and a leader. Motherhood is so humbling. I did not believe in the “maternal instinct” until I felt the fullness and wonder of that instinct the moment they placed Antonio in my arms some 23 years ago. Suddenly, I knew that I was both brave and courageous because I delivered him without anesthesia. As he grew, I learned that the best person to help me raise him was life partner and husband John Galonski. When we welcomed his sister, three years later, I learned that I am good at “team-building”. Motherhood has taught me to be humble, to lead with courage and compassion and also, that it is not easy to build a team, but good people will follow if you lead them and offer them structure that they can trust.

4) The Matriots PAC has a bold goal to see 50% of all elected offices in Ohio held by women by 2028. What is your vision for Ohio in 2028?

Because the population of voters who voted in2018 was more like 54%, I believe a goal of having 54% of the legislature be made up of women is a more accurate goal of true representation.

5) Tip O’Neill famously said that “all politics is local.” What are the top-two issues your community faces today?

Job loss and worry over not having affordable and accessible health care during a pandemic.

5a) As a Matriots endorsed candidate in 2018 you were elected and now serve as in elected office. What policy change or improvement are you most proud of from your time in office? 

I am most proud of my work to that 51,000 Ohio public school seniors were able to graduate in 2019 by fighting for Ohio to include graduation pathways that they had suddenly taken away from the graduating class of 2018-2019. I became aware of the problem as a member of the k-12 education committee but was by no means an expert in k-12 education. The key to beginning that journey was my willingness to listen when several teachers reached out to me about the problem. I told them from the beginning that I did not understand what they were talking about but I wanted to help and I was willing to learn. With the help of both students and teachers all over Ohio, we launched a social media campaign, a letter-writing campaign, and a phone-banking effort that got the attention of the Chair of the k-12 education committee who told my aide, “Anything with Galonski’s name on it isn’t ever going anywhere.” I took that information and crammed my ego into my back pocket and went to work. When the bill passed it did not have my name on it and I did not care.

6) Now for fun: Tell us something personal about yourself. It can be a hobby, your favorite food, a funny pet story, something we might not know about you that you would like to share with our members.

I love the intersection between math and art. I celebrate those two connections by crafting modular origami in my spare time. Would love to show you all sometime!  🙂