The Ohio Senate minority caucus is comprised of the party with the fewest members represented. Each session, members of the minority caucus select a slate of leaders, headed by the minority leader.
Senate Democrats believe all Ohioans deserve good-paying jobs, quality, affordable health care and fair treatment under the law. That’s why we support investing in Ohio’s future by building quality schools and strong communities. We are committed to giving everyone a fair shot at success regardless of race, religion, gender or sexual orientation. We are focused on policies that reward hard work in every corner of our state, from the farms to the factories and from the cities to the small towns.
Creating jobs and protecting workers’ rights
We are committed to creating good-paying jobs that allow all Ohioans to support their families and to giving workers access to training opportunities. We will fight to protect workers’ rights and to make sure that all jobs pay a living wage and provide good benefits. We also believe that employees should always feel safe and free from any type of discrimination when at work.
Improving Ohio’s economy and investing in infrastructure
We believe it’s important that we fix our state’s aging infrastructure. We have proposed a number of plans to maintain and improve our roads, bridges and water and sewer lines, as well as public transportation. We are also working to provide assistance to the business community, especially to small and minority-owned businesses, believing this will encourage innovation and build stronger communities in Ohio.
Make our tax system fairer
Giving all Ohioans a fair shot at success requires a tax system that is fair to working families. Unfortunately, in recent years, changes to Ohio’s tax code have mostly benefited the wealthy. That’s why Senate Democrats have proposed eliminating tax loopholes that reduce funding for our schools and local communities and that do not help to grow the middle class.
Guaranteeing affordable, quality health care
Today, more Ohioans than ever receive quality health insurance through their employers, the health insurance marketplace or Medicaid. It is a priority of the Senate Democrats to protect coverage and to make sure that Ohioans continue to receive quality health care. We believe that investing in greater health care access will improve health outcomes, reduce diseases and premature deaths and give every person a better chance to succeed.
Combating opioid addiction
It is a sad and disturbing fact that Ohio leads the nation in opioid overdose deaths. Senate Democrats are calling for comprehensive legislation to address this crisis by giving our local communities and first responders the resources they need to save lives. Our Senators also support expanding drug treatment services across Ohio to help more people break the cycle of addiction.
Providing quality education
Every child in Ohio deserves to receive a good education in a safe environment. As Democrats, we strongly support investing in early childhood education because evidence shows it provides the greatest benefits to children, giving them the tools they need to be successful in school and life. We also believe we should offer professional development to teachers throughout their career and require greater accountability for charter schools. Finally, we oppose greater privatization of education.
Defending voting rights
The right to vote is at the heart of America’s democracy and so is the government’s obligation to protect and promote this right at every level. As Democrats, we support investing in new voting technology that ensures elections are secure and fair. We want barriers to voting to be eliminated and voter education and participation to be encouraged. We also support ending gerrymandering so that voters can choose their representatives and not the other way around.
Protecting the environment
We want to provide a healthy environment for all Ohioans. This includes making sure that our communities have safe drinking water, free of harmful algal blooms, lead or any other dangerous contaminants. We also support investing in alternative and renewable energy sources as a way to both protect the environment and create jobs and economic development in the state.
Reforming the criminal justice system
We want to reform our adult and juvenile criminal justice systems to ensure they are fair to all citizens, no matter their background. It is also a priority to give police more funding and better training so that citizens can be confident officers can handle stressful situations. We are also working to reform our bail and bond system so that people are not punished simply for being poor.
Minority Leader – Kenny Yuko – Senate District 25. The minority leader is elected by all members of the Senate to lead the party in the minority. He is responsible for the development and implementation of the caucus agenda.
Representing Ohio’s 25th Senate District that includes parts of both Cuyahoga and Lake Counties, State Senator Kenny Yuko has devoted his career to strengthening Northeast Ohio and improving the lives of those who call it home.
Senator Yuko grew up in Euclid and graduated from Brush High School in the South Euclid/Lyndhurst School District in 1968. He then attended both Cuyahoga Community College and Kent State University before entering the workforce.
Yuko began his career as a clothing buyer for Polsky’s Department Store, but he soon found his true passion with union organizing. He served with the Laborers’ Local #860 for 30 years, including 25 years as union organizer. He retired from that service in 2004. During his long career, he received multiple awards for his efforts, including the “2000 Organizing Award” from his International Union.
With this experience under his belt, Yuko ran for State Representative in 2004 with the goals of protecting working families, promoting health care access, and improving Ohio’s economic climate. He won convincingly and was subsequently re-elected for three more terms. During his tenure in the House, he served as both Chairman and Ranking Member of the Commerce and Labor Committee, and was also a member on the Committees on Health and Aging and Veterans Affairs.
Because of his outstanding dedication to the causes he cares about, Yuko has received numerous awards and recognitions, including: AFL-CIO Lifetime Achievement Award, Kym Sellers Foundation Triumphant Award, National MS Society Advocacy Hall of Fame, Ohio Counseling Association Public Policy & Legislation Award, Home Medical Equipment Services Industry State Legislator of the Year Award, Linking Employment Abilities & Potential (LEAP) Legislative Advocacy Award, National Association of Mental Illness (NAMI) Legislator of Year Award, Ohio Ambulance & Medical Transportation Association Legislator of the Year Award, The Rosemary Home Angel of the Year, Mayor Georgine Welo Community Service Award, and various other awards and citations for his years of service to the community.
Yuko resides in Richmond Heights with his wife Pam. He has two grown children, Rocky and Angela, and three grandchildren.
Contact Senator Kenny Yuko:
1 Capitol Square, 3rd Floor
Columbus, OH 43215
Hometown: Richmond Heights
Email Senator Yuko
Assistant Minority Leader – Nickie J. Antonio – Senate District 23. The minority whip is elected by all members of the Senate and is responsible for monitoring legislation and securing votes for legislation on the floor for the minority party.
State Senator Nickie J. Antonio (D-Lakewood) is honored to be serving in her first elected term in the Ohio Senate after serving four terms in the Ohio House of Representatives for the 13th House District.
She has been a dedicated champion of workers’ rights, high-quality education, our local governments, equal rights for women and the LGBT community, healthcare for all and fighting the opioid crisis.
Antonio is recognized as a leader who reaches across the aisle to get things done. As a result, she has worked to pass legislation such as Ohio’s historic adoption open records law (SB 23/HB 61) and a step therapy reform law (SB 265/HB 72). During each of her four terms in office, Antonio introduced the Ohio Fairness Act to protect LGBT people from discrimination, a bill to end Ohio’s use of the death penalty and an array of other bills focused on improving the lives of all Ohioans. Antonio continues to be an established expert in health policy.
Senator Antonio represents Senate District 23 which includes Parma, Parma Heights, Brooklyn, Brook Park, Lakewood, Middleburg Heights, Linndale and parts of Cleveland’s west side.
The first in her family to graduate from college, Antonio holds a Master of Public Administration degree from the Maxine Levin College of Urban Affairs at Cleveland State University (CSU) as well as a Bachelor of Science degree in Education from CSU. Antonio is an alumna of the Harvard Kennedy School Senior and Executive Leadership Program for State and Local Governments.
Daughters Ariel and Stacey, both Lakewood High School graduates, have made Senator Antonio and her wife, Jean Kosmac, very proud as the girls progress through their life journeys.
Contact Senator Nickie J. Antonio:
1 Capitol Square, 2nd Floor
Columbus, OH 43215
Email Senator Antonio
Minority Whip – Tina Maharath – Senate District 3. The assistant minority whip is elected by all members of the Senate and is responsible for assisting the minority whip in monitoring legislation and securing votes for legislation on the floor for the minority party.
State Senator Tina Maharath (D-Columbus) is serving her first term in the Ohio Senate after being elected to the General Assembly in November 2018. She represents the 3rd Senate District, which encompasses areas of Franklin County, including Whitehall, Gahanna, Westerville, New Albany, Groveport, Canal Winchester, the Hilltop and parts of Columbus. She is the first Asian-American woman elected to the Ohio Senate.
A native of Whitehall, Tina chose to dedicate her life to public service at a young age, inspired by her upbringing as the daughter of refugee parents from the Southeast Asian nation of Laos. Her father served the U.S. Army under the Laos Army while her mother worked as a nurse in the Laos Army.
A warrior for underserved, troubled youth, Tina has had to live through a number of adverse events. She lost her mother and two brothers in a fatal car accident while she was still a young teen studying in France. Tina leaned on her community to overcome such a tragedy and decided to return that support by devoting herself to that very same community.
Before being elected to office, she helped organize Columbus’ annual Asian Festival as the chair for the Volunteer Committee. She served on the Lao Volunteer Donation Association’s advisory board and on the organizing committee for Ohio’s Asian American and Pacific Islander Legislative Day, an event she went on to chair.
She volunteers for various organizations throughout central Ohio, including Legacies of War, Ohio Asian American Health Coalition, Community Refugee Immigration Services, Community Shelter Board and Asian American Community Services. In her free time, she also mentors young adults who, like her, have had rough upbringings and advocates for issues that impact people facing trauma.
Despite all the trauma she faced at such a young age, Tina used her strength to complete her secondary and higher education.
Tina currently resides in Canal Winchester with her son, Teng.
Contact Senator Tina Maharath:
1 Capitol Square, Ground Floor
Columbus, OH 43215
Email Senator Maharath
Assistant Minority Whip – Hearcel F. Craig – Senate District 5. Hearcel F. Craig (D-Columbus) brings a strong background of public service to the Statehouse as he serves in his first term as state Senator following two two-year terms as state Representative.
Craig’s commitment to the residents of Columbus began decades ago when he worked as legislative liaison for the Ohio Department of Youth Services. During his tenure at ODYS, Craig drafted legislation and secured legislative sponsorship for bills introduced in the Ohio General Assembly, including legislation which secured $83 million for much needed capital improvements to ODYS facilities.
Craig continued his work with young people when he served as director of recruitment & admissions for City Year, a program that recruits young adults to work full-time for one year on various social service projects around Columbus.
As former executive director of the Hilltop Civic Council, Craig managed a comprehensive social service agency that served 10,000 people annually in one of Columbus’ historic neighborhoods. Directing the Hilltop Civic Council’s 35-person staff and administering its $1.2 million annual budget, Craig supervised programs for a comprehensive community health care center, youth and senior services, a resettlement center for new Americans and a food and clothing pantry.
Later elected as a Columbus City Councilmember, Craig led the city’s Veterans Affairs Committee to help meet the needs of veterans, service personnel and their families. He has worked to connect veterans with existing services and resources in the community and created new initiatives like the Better Municipal Care for Veterans Home Fund, which helps veterans and their families make needed repairs to their homes. Craig also served as the chair of the Recreation, Public Utilities, Health & Human Services and Judiciary committees.
During the past three decades, Craig has volunteered his time as a trustee on numerous community service boards, many focused on education. He has served as a member of the Columbus Public Schools Equity Task Force, the Columbus State Community College Department of Business and Industry Technology Curriculum Committee, the Southside Learning and Development Center’s Board of Trustees, the Ohio Hunger Task Force Board of Trustees and the Columbus Cultural Arts Center Board of Trustees. He recently served on the board of the Military Veterans Resource Center. Craig also served as board chair for the Alliance for Cooperative Justice, board chair for the Franklin County Prevention Institute and chair of the State Education Committee for the Columbus Chapter of the NAACP. Craig was named the 2011 Public Servant of the Year by Community Shares of Mid-Ohio.
Senator Craig earned a Master of Science in Administration degree from Central Michigan University and was a Join Together National Leadership Fellow at Boston University School of Public Health. Craig pursued a Graduate Studies degree in Theology from Ashland Theological Seminary and is a graduate of Leadership Columbus and Leadership Ohio. He proudly served our nation in the United States Army from 1970-1972.
Senator Craig is eager to use his public service experience to produce meaningful investments in our neighborhoods that help create jobs and expand the local economy.
Senator Craig serves on the following committees and commissions:
- Insurance & Financial Institutions, Ranking Minority Member
- Government Oversight & Reform, Ranking Minority Member
- Local Government, Public Safety, & Veterans’ Affairs
- Energy & Public Utilities
- Higher Education
- General Government & Agency Review
- Infant Mortality
- Correctional Institution Inspection Committee
- Retirement Study Council
- Advisory Council for Aging
- Commission on Fatherhood
- Council of State Governments Education Committee, Vice-Chair
Contact Senator Hearcel F. Craig:
1 Capitol Square, Ground Floor
Columbus, OH 43215
Email Senator Craig
Ohio Democratic Senate Caucus