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Politics

Pharmacist to fill Gillmor's Senate seat

Rep-David-Burke

State Rep. David Burke (R., Marysville) has been named to the Ohio Senate to replace Sen. Karen Gillmor (R., Tiffin) in the 26th district.

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COLUMBUS -- A second-term state representative from the southern-most region of the 26th Senate District was selected Tuesday to replace Sen. Karen Gillmor (R., Tiffin).

Rep. David Burke (R., Marysville), a pharmacist, drug store owner, and former Marysville city councilman, lives roughly 100 miles from the district's northern tip in Ottawa County.

The chamber is expected Wednesday to accept Ms. Gillmor's resignation from her Senate seat and confirm her appointment by Gov. John Kasich to the Ohio Industrial Commission.

Mr. Burke was recommended to Senate GOP leadership by a screening committee and should be appointed Wednesday.

"Ohio faces a lot of challenges, and health care is one of them," said Mr. Burke. "The one thing that the General Assembly needs is engaged health-care professionals who can bring their experience to policies they're working on.

"I can best serve the constituents of my representative district and now the Senate district by assisting with this major component -- Medicaid, state (health insurance) exchanges, and, of course, the Affordable Health Care Act in 2014."

Of the 11 applicants who threw their names into the ring, six were invited to be interviewed by the screening committee.

In addition to Mr. Burke, they included Rep. Jeffrey McClain (R., Upper Sandusky); Steve Reinhard, a former state representative from Bucyrus, who lost to Ms. Gillmor in the 2008 Senate primary; and William Reineke, Jr., president of Tiffin Ford-Lincoln Inc.

"Our priority in the Senate is to create jobs and bring economic prosperity back to Ohio," Senate President Tom Niehaus (R., New Richmond) said.

"Dave's experience in health care and economic development will be an asset as we continue to reshape our state," he said.

The 26th District includes southern Ottawa County, western Seneca, and all of Sandusky, Logan, Union, Marion, Crawford, and Wyandot counties.

Ms. Gillmor maintains a legal residence in Tiffin, but she also has a house in southern Union County where her children have attended school.

Mr. Burke, 43, said that, despite the district's geography, he will effectively represent constituents in the northern counties.

"I work my district," he said. "I'm a hands-on legislator. I'm constantly in the district. I do district days. I meet individuals, businesses, schools, city councils, townships. I am not a laissez-faire representative and I won't be a laissez-faire senator."

Mr. Burke received a bachelor's degree in pharmacy from Ohio Northern University in Ada in 1990 and a master's in business administration from Capital University in Columbus in 1994.

His wife, Donna, is a fellow pharmacist and they have two children.

He currently represents the 83rd House District, roughly the southern third of the Senate District with all or portions of Logan, Union, and Marion counties.

It's uncertain what the largely rural district will look like after lawmakers finish redrawing legislative districts later this year to adjust for population shifts reflected in the 2010 U.S. Census.

Contact Jim Provance at: jprovance@theblade.com, or 614-221-0496.

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