Ann Womer Benjamin, a Republican who served eight years in the Ohio House of Representatives, announced her bid for mayor of Aurora on Thursday.
She was elected an at-large member of Aurora City Council in 2011. In 1994, she was elected representative of the 75th House District, which included most of Portage County. She saw 20 of her bills, dealing with welfare and finance reforms and crime victims' reparations, become law.
Womer Benjamin, a 28-year resident of Aurora, said wants to use her experience to better her city.
"I have enjoyed being on council, but I want to extend my service by being mayor of a great community that I think has a great future but needs a visionary who has government experience," she said.
Womer Benjamin said her plans are to preserve the neighborhoods while capitalizing on the commercial potential of Aurora.
"We have some commercial development opportunities in Aurora that we haven't yet taken advantage of," Womer Benjamin said. "We need to do that because that broadens the tax base and will help us financially with our future. On the other hand, we have some of the most wonderful neighborhoods in the area. You can't sacrifice those neighborhoods for economic development."
Janet Esposito, Portage County auditor, said Womer Benjamin understands how to manage the budgets but also understands the people, which will help the community grow whether with things or in morale.
"They'll prosper, and they'll grow the way the citizens want it to grow," Esposito said. "The citizens really need input because one or two people who are elected officials don't necessarily guide where everyone goes, but then you end up with controversy and problems. And problems don't help the community grow."
Womer Benjamin said with her experience, she understands how to serve the public while working in a sometimes challenging governmental setting.
"People know that I will defend them, that I am in government for them," she said. "When I was a state representative for Portage County, I represented everybody. ... I worked for them. I worked with them."
As for her experience, Womer Benjamin has a public service career spanning about two decades.
She was named the first female director of the Ohio Department of Insurance in 2002 and received Ohio University's Phillips Medal of Public Service in 2004 because of the work to stabilize Ohio's medical malpractice market. Her department received U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' commendation in 2006 for the department's implementation of Medicare Part D, the federal prescription drug program for seniors, in Ohio.