Eric Connelly is an educator, a Fulbright scholar and a 3-time graduate of The Ohio State University. He is an active public servant with policy and legislative experience as an aide in the Ohio Senate and Rich Cordray’s 2018 gubernatorial campaign. Eric grew up in Grove City, Ohio, where he attended South-Western City Schools and volunteered for the Grove City Kids Association. He learned early on about the value of education, hard work and community service. His pursuit of these values has taken him from Ohio to the west coast in California, the east coast in New York, and around the world to Russia.
After high school, Eric enrolled into Columbus State Community College. Concerned with the potential burden of student debt, he made the difficult decision after freshman year to delay higher education and join the workforce. He was hired on as an environmental educator with the YMCA of Central Ohio. Eric worked with schools throughout Central Ohio to immerse their students in experiential, science-based programs. Over four years, he continued this work throughout the United States, introducing students from urban settings to new environments and educational experiences.
Upon enrolling at The Ohio State University, Eric joined Hilliard City Schools as staff for the before and after school program at J.W. Reason Elementary. Nearing graduation, Eric earned the prestigious Fulbright fellowship to teach at Tyumen State University in Tyumen, Russia. He taught courses on international relations, presented on American civics, and facilitated cross-cultural communication by engaging American and Russian leaders during a historically tenuous time in U.S. - Russia relations.
Eric’s public service continued after graduate school when he served full time as a policy associate for Rich Cordray’s gubernatorial campaign. He took this experience to the Ohio Senate, where he enjoys helping constituents navigate state government and developing policy proposals as an aide to State Senator Tina Maharath, Ohio’s first Asian-American woman ever elected to the General Assembly. In addition, Eric teaches Russian language and culture at Columbus North International High School.
Eric is a three-time alumnus of The Ohio State University. He earned a Master of Public Administration degree from the John Glenn College of Public Affairs and a Master of Arts in Slavic and East European Studies with a 4.0 GPA. He graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Globalization Studies and Russian. The oldest of three, Eric takes pride in his family members who are first responders and who are serving our country. He loves hiking at Battelle Darby Creek and Scioto Grove Metro Parks, traveling to far off places, reading, and spending time with Irina, his wife of ten years.
I benefited from the education I received in South-Western City Schools, and I believe it is our moral obligation to ensure that every child can receive a high quality, public education in Ohio. Unfortunately, state funding is on the decline and continues to lag behind inflation. Voucher programs and irresponsible charter schools have siphoned away resources. Ohio’s school report cards more accurately measure a district’s demographics than its performance. As your State Senator, I will respect and listen to our teachers, fight for equitable state funding, push for more civics and financial education, and support a new method of performance assessment that is supported by educators.
Quality early childhood programs improve school readiness, support working families and lay a foundation for a lifetime of success. Unfortunately, Ohio ranks 33rd in access to preschool and 38th in state spending per child. Childcare is expensive. By limiting eligibility for child care assistance to families making less than 130 percent of the federal poverty level, Ohio makes it more difficult than most states to access care. Meanwhile, the average child care worker makes only $9.86 an hour, leading to high turnover and disproportionately affecting women of color who make up the majority of early childhood professionals. I believe that we can do better. As your State Senator, I will push to increase eligibility for child care assistance and improve Ohio’s provider rates to ensure that workers are fairly paid and that barriers to care are removed.
I believe that our legislature does not accurately represent the will of the people. On August 5, 2019, Ohioans everywhere demanded that our lawmakers finally DO SOMETHING to improve gun safety in our state. That call has rung on deaf ears in the Republican-controlled legislature. Despite the fact that 90% of Ohioans support universal background checks, no real movement can be seen from the Republicans. As your State Senator, I will push for universal background checks and support legislation that closes the gun show loophole, protects children, and better prevents domestic abusers from accessing guns.
Mental Health Parity
We have more work to do to ensure that everyone has access to the mental health care they need. Due to differences in state and federal law, insurers in Ohio can more strongly restrict access to mental health services than to treatment for physical health. Anyone who knows a veteran, first responder, teacher, health care professional or who suffers from a mental illness understands the need for equal access to mental health care. As your State Senator, I will stand up for fair access to mental health services so that nobody should have to suffer in silence.
Equal Rights For All
I believe that Ohio needs to become a more inclusive and progressive state. Under current law, a person in our state can be fired, evicted or denied services for reasons of sexual orientation, gender identity or expression. The Ohio Fairness Act, which would protect against discrimination in housing, employment, and public accommodations, has languished in both houses of the legislature. This legislation is important not only to our sense of fairness but also to our ability to compete economically. As your State Senator, I will support legislation that better protects against discrimination so that everyone can thrive here and push Ohio forward.
Healthcare & Reproductive Rights
Ohio ranks 46th in health value, meaning we are less healthy while spending more on health care than most other states. Addiction has impacted families throughout Ohio. We use too little of our resources on prevention, pushing expensive treatment costs down the road. We pay too little attention to the social determinants of health, such as race, education and socioeconomic status. And Republicans in the Ohio Statehouse have continued their assault against a woman’s reproductive rights with one reprehensible bill after another. As your State Senator, I will push for more investment in affordable housing, transportation and employment, prioritize prevention and support a woman’s right to choose.