Hamilton resident Susan Vaughn has announced she is running against Ohio Rep. Wes Retherford for the 51st Ohio House District.
Vaughn, a 67-year-old Democrat, will run against the three-term Republican in the November 2018 general election.
She said she’s running because “ethics” has been the “first and foremost” issue people want to see improved.
“Things I’ve seen happening worldwide have motivated me to want to do something, to bring us back to more values-based decision-making,” said Vaughn, Miami University’s director of the Office of Ethics and Student Conflict Resolution. “I think it impacts young people, and I think it has tremendous impact when we make decisions that are values-based.”
Former Republican Ohio lawmakers Cliff Hite, of Findlay, and Wes Goodman, of Cardington, resigned from the Statehouse in October and earlier this month, respectively, after allegations of inappropriate conduct surfaced. Hite, a now former state senator, was accused of sexually harassing a Legislative Service Commission employee, according to commission investigatory records.
Goodman, a now former state representative, stepped down after House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger, R-Clarksville, pressed him to resign after learning details of “his involvement in inappropriate behavior related to his state office.”
Rosenberger and Senate President Larry Obhof, R-Medina, are mandating sexual harassment training for the members of both their chambers.
Vaughn earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from Miami University in 1982 and a master’s degree in sociology in 1986. She’s worked at Miami University for 33 years, and has been in her current position since 1996.
She lives in Hamilton with her husband, John, and they have two children — Elizabeth Vaughn, who also lives in Hamilton with her husband, Brad Burch, and their two children; and Patrick Vaughn, who lives in Los Angeles.
Vaughn and her son were contestants on the seventh season of “The Amazing Race” in 2005.
Retherford, 33, was first elected to the Statehouse in 2012 and won re-election in 2014 and 2016. He is a Talawanda High School graduate and served in the U.S. Marine Corps until 2004.
Retherford said he hasn’t thought about next year’s election because he’s “been trying to get work done here in Columbus.”
As for the sexual harassment and sexual assault complaints, he said that “impacts everybody.”
“These types of complaints need to be handled seriously and they need to be handled appropriately,” Retherford said. “These two situations, from the best of my knowledge, have been handled appropriately.”
Retherford had faced a career-threatening felony charge this past March when he was arrested after he was found passed out in an idling pickup truck parked in the drive-thru lane of a Butler County fast-food restaurant. Police initially charged him with operating a vehicle while impaired, a misdemeanor, and improper handling of firearms in a vehicle, a felony, after finding a loaded handgun in his truck’s center armrest.
A Butler County grand jury only indicted Retherford on the misdemeanor charge. He was later found guilty on that charge. Any state lawmaker found guilty of a felony charge is automatically removed from office, according to state law.
Retherford has been apologetic of the incident and told this news outlet “it’s not representative of who I am.”
The Ohio 51st House District includes the cities of Hamilton and Fairfield as well as all or parts of Ross, Fairfield and Sinclair townships.