June 30, 2016

Mostly clear

Montville Twp. man selected to replace Sen. Gibbs

COLUMBUS — A screening committee has recommended that Montville Township resident Larry Obhof Jr. fill a vacant seat in the Ohio Senate.

Senate Republicans will vote in the coming weeks whether to confirm that appointment.

“I think that it is a pivotal moment for our state. We have a lot of difficulties we need to face over the next few years,” Obhof, 33, said Thursday. “I thought I had a lot to add to the legislative process to get the economy moving, get jobs here, to balance the budget while maintaining the strength of the schools and our communities.”

Obhof pointed to the economy and the $8 billion to $10 billion projected budget deficit as the state’s biggest challenges.

“We certainly have a lot of work ahead of us. Majority caucus is going to be meeting next week to determine legislative priorities to determine how to deal with some of these issues,” he said.

Obhof was recommended for the seat left open by former Sen. Bob Gibbs, who was elected to the U.S. House in November and started serving there this year. Gibbs represented Ohio’s 22nd Senate District, which includes Medina, Holmes and Wayne counties and parts of Ashland County.

There are two years left on his Senate term.

Eleven people throughout the district, including five from Medina County, originally applied for Gibbs’ seat in the state Senate. They were interviewed early this year.

Obhof was one of four finalists the screening committee met with during a second round of interviews Tuesday. The other three were former state Rep. Chuck Calvert of Lafayette Township, former Ashland County Commissioner Matt Miller of Ashland, and State Board of Education member Robin Hovis of Millersburg.

“Out of a group of very impressive candidates, Larry Obhof distinguished himself with his knowledge of the issues facing Ohio and how he will help us address them as we move forward in the 129th General Assembly,” Ohio Senate President Tom Niehaus said in a statement. “Larry will be an excellent advocate for the people of the 22nd Ohio Senate District, and I am pleased he will be joining us in the Ohio Senate.”

Obhof works at the Cleveland office of Baker & Hostetler LLP and is an adjunct professor at Case Western Reserve University School of Law, where he teaches courses on legislation.

Obhof received his bachelor’s degree from the Ohio State University and his law degree from Yale Law School. He and his wife, Nicole, have two daughters.

His application to the Senate shows he’s part of a legal team challenging the constitutionality of last year’s health care reform on behalf of the National Federation of Independent Business and the attorneys general or governors from 20 states.

He spent a year researching Ohio’s school funding system for a case study that was published in 2005.

He also served as law clerk to 6th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Alice M. Batchelder of Medina in 2003 and 2004.

He said he recently worked with state Rep. Dave Hall, R-Killbuck, to draft legislative proposals to improve Ohio’s business climate. Hall represents southern Medina County.

Contact Maria Kacik Kula at (330) 721-4049 or mkacik@medina-gazette.com.