COLUMBUS — Rep. Matt Szollosi (D., Oregon), the number two Democrat in the Ohio House, will walk away from the Statehouse and the Toledo area to take a job advocating for skilled construction trades.
The 39-year-old law partner specializing in labor issues like prevailing wage, arbitration, and unemployment compensation still has more than a year and a half left in his current term. Term limits, however, would have barred him from seeking another two-year term in 2014.
He’s taking the executive director position at the new Affiliated Construction Trades of Ohio, an organization created more than a year ago but for which funding has just fallen into place. The change will mean leaving his Toledo law firm and relocating his wife and three children to the Columbus area.
“There are dozens upon dozens of issues to work on in terms of helping the public better understand the issues facing the industry,” Mr. Szollosi said today. “Certainly, there will be a strong marketing and advertising component to the position. I’m going to be able to apply my 16 years of experience in construction-related litigation and certainly my knowledge of state government and how it works.”
A former Oregon city councilman, he moved up the leadership ladder quickly among Ohio House Democrats, boosted by his prolific fund-raising skills. He became assistant minority leader after just one two-year term in the chamber, ultimately partnering with Rep. Armond Budish (D., Beachwood), who became minority leader.
For one two-year session beginning in 2009, Mr. Szollosi served as the number-two lawmaker in the entire House when Democrats briefly took control of the chamber and Mr. Budish ascended to speaker.
A House Democratic committee will screen applicants for appointment to complete Mr. Szollosi’s term through 2014. The Democratic-leaning 46th District stretches from Jerusalem Township and Oregon east of Toledo through parts of East and South Toledo to pick up Maumee, Holland, and Springfield Township to the west.
It’s unclear when the screening process would begin because Mr. Szollosi has not set a firm date for his departure.
“I wanted to see what was in (House Republicans’ proposed revised budget) before making a final determination,” he said. “I’ve been working on a few things in the budget that I’m very passionate about, including the restoration of funding for the Toledo Public Schools and the Medicaid expansion. I will have that timeline put in place very shortly.”
In 2010, Mr. Szollosi was on then Gov. Ted Strickland’s list of potential running mates during his unsuccessful bid for re-election. He briefly considered a geographic move to run for Toledo mayor.
“I certainly was not thinking about leaving the legislature a month ago,” Mr. Szollosi said. “I was thinking about the future in terms of my next step politically, and this opportunity arose. It’s an absolutely ideal situation, particularly for my family.
“The most appealing aspect of this decision is not having to be away from (wife) Melanie and my three kids who are 7, 6, and 5,” Mr. Szollosi said.