Michelle Novak is the Democratic candidate running for Ohio State House of Representatives in the 53rd District including Middletown, Monroe, Trenton, Oxford, and many of the adjoining townships in Northern and Western Butler County, Ohio.
The health of a community depends on the health of our families and the health of the individuals within those families. We are one body and if one body is suffering we all suffer. We have a lot of healing to do in order to move forward together. The last few years have helped us to see where we are weak, where we have obstacles, and where we need change. Providing access to a quality education is the foundation to improving our communities. And having economic opportunities allows for the stability for family and student success. Both need to be addressed simultaneously because they both depend on one another.
Personal and Family
Michelle lives in Middletown, Ohio with three of her four children. Her youngest two sons Ibraheem, 9, and Zaki, 14, attend Middletown City Schools where she currently serves as a member of the school board. Her son, Ishmael, 18, recently graduated from Middletown High School and is at the Navy Recruit Training Command in the Great Lakes region. Her daughter, Anna, 22, has just started her career as a licensed massage therapist in Liberty Township. Michelle and her husband, Jamal were married last year in Ghana. He lives and works between Ghana and Europe as an accountant, an independent sports agent, and soccer club president. He hopes to join his family in the United States in 2021.
Michelle began her career as a Financial Advisor wanting to use her background in finance to help others achieve their financial goals. She returned to school to pursue her graduate degree where she shifted her academic focus to political economy and Latin America later getting her Masters of Public Administration. While completing her studies, she began using her skills acquired as a financial advisor and her education to support non-profit community organizations in their planning and development. She worked as a grant writer and organizational consultant for many years while also volunteering in her community in different capacities to support her children and others. For a few years, Michelle had served as the Operations Manager for the Alzheimer’s Association where she managed many of the internal aspects of the Miami Valley Chapter. She left the Alzheimer’s Association to run for elected office while also returning to independent consulting.
Michelle has been engaged in the civic community in many capacities from starting and coaching in a youth volleyball program in Middletown to serving as a member of the Ohio School Board Association Diversity and Equity committee in Columbus. She has coached girls basketball, Ladies High School volleyball, and boys and girls youth volleyball. She has managed local soccer teams and planned local soccer tournaments. She planned homeschooling cooperative summer activities, served as the treasurer of the Central Academy parent organization, and started a girls youth mentoring program. Michelle has initiated reentry efforts in the Greater Cincinnati area as part of the Restoring Hope Initiative, participated in community meetings around race relations, and volunteered as a chaplain at Atrium Medical Center. She currently volunteers as a member of the Chamber of Commerce serving Middletown, Monroe, and Trenton Leadership Committee, the Montgomery County Public Health LGBTQA coalition, and with the Middletown Promise Future Center. As a member of the Middletown City School District Board of Education, she has statewide leadership roles with the Ohio School Board Association Black Caucus committee, Urban Network, and Diversity and Equity Committee.
Michelle was elected to office on the Middletown City School District Board of Education in 2015 and began her first term in January 2016. She was then reelected to the school board in 2019 beginning her second term in January 2020.
Bachelors of Science in Corporate Finance (Wright State University)
Masters in Public Administration, coursework concentration Applied Behavioral Science: International and Comparative Politics, Political Economy (Wright State University)
Proud mother of a recent Navy recruit! Go Navy!
Who is your political role model and why?
Robert Putnam is my political role model. He takes a local approach to impacting societal change emphasizing the importance of civil society and personal interaction in the development of strong democratic institutions.
Why are you running for this office?
I am running for office because I know I can make a positive difference for the people in my community. As a school board member, I have seen how each issue impacts another. I think a holistic approach is necessary to have the impact that we want to see on mental health issues, chronic health conditions, addiction, high infant mortality rates, crime, and unemployment. If we are able to improve the economic prospects for more people and invest in better health and educational outcomes, we will see other variables shift and improve. I am data centered and collaborative in my approach which I believe is the leadership style that we need in the house of representatives right now.
What qualifies you for this office?
I care deeply for the people who live in my district, I see our potential as individuals and together as a community, and I have a realistic improvement plan to support and empower the people who live here.
What are the most important issues facing the voters of this district?
There are too many. Lack of support for public school institutions, limited healthcare access, chronic health conditions, addiction, poverty, mental health, access to living wage jobs, small business supports, political corruption, the political climate, institutional racism, and a health pandemic. It is about time we had someone representing us that will start addressing these issues.
If elected, what are your top priorities?
To remove economic and educational obstacles for our local families and to work with members of the local community to enact legislation that will improve the safety and security for all in our community so that Butler County will be a national destination for community empowerment and prosperity. In my first term, I hope to fix the public school funding formula and support small business and economic development initiatives to help create good paying jobs that will sustain families. I hope also to strengthen our democratic institutions by redrawing our districts fairly and improving access to voting. Finally, I plan to improve Ohio election laws to make it more difficult for corrupt politicians to get into office and provide more transparency through campaign finance reform.
Do you support workers’ rights? What is your position on so-called ‘Right To Work’ laws in Ohio?
I support the right of workers to organize and negotiate through union leadership. ‘Right to Work’ promotes the race to the bottom for wages attracting businesses that are not invested in our communities and who will leave our community when they find a ‘better deal’ somewhere else. ‘Right to work’ undermines community vitality and economic progress by attracting businesses that will remove wealth from our economic ecosystem leaving behind families that are consistently economically insecure. That stress leads to chronic health conditions, poor health outcomes, mental health issues, addiction, high infant mortality rates, and a generational poverty mindset.
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