Jennifer Brunner had had enough with a state election system that is inaccurate and puts politics ahead of people. That is why Jennifer, who was twice elected a Franklin County Common Pleas Court Judge, has given up the security and authority of the bench to fix Ohio's broken election system.
Jennifer enters the race as one of the most qualified candidate's for the office in state history. In fact, when elected, she will be Ohio's first member of a local board of elections, to hold the job as the state's top elections official.
But her service on the Franklin County Board of Elections plays just a small part in forming her overall elections expertise. In 1983 she became Legislative Counsel for then Secretary of State Sherrod Brown. In this post, she worked with the Ohio legislature to draft laws on how campaigns can be financed and how political action committees must operate. She also worked with the 88 County Boards of Elections to assist them in running fair and efficient elections throughout Ohio.
Starting private practice after leaving the office, her elections expertise has been sought by candidates and organizations at all ends of the political spectrum. Ohio's largest and most influential trade organizations and corporations, such as the Ohio Chamber of Commerce and the Ohio Council of Retail Merchants, asked her to present seminars on how the state's political action committee laws operate.
She has served as the election lawyer to Democratic statewide candidates for governor and attorney general as well as candidates for the Ohio General Assembly and a presidential candidate seeking to be on Ohio's ballot. She has represented candidates on issues before the Ohio Elections Commission and local boards of elections and served as a special prosecutor for election fraud.
Jennifer's goals to make her community safer and ensure justice for all took a new direction when she was elected judge in 2000. She presided over some of the most high-profile cases in recent history including sentencing the Columbus' "Linden-area rapist" who raped 37 women over 17 years to a lengthy prison term, negotiating a settlement of the case so as to not subject the victims to the pain of a trial. She found the bidding processes of the Ohio School Facilities Commission inadequate after nearly $2 billion dollars in contracts had been awarded. Her decision was followed by the resignation of its director and and an order by Governor Bob Taft that the Commission must ratify hundreds of contracts to comply with state law.
She revolutionized Ohio courts when she allowed jurors to ask questions during trials, a practice that was challenged and upheld on appeal to the Ohio Supreme Court, which noted that some states have used it for nearly 100 years. She also designed a drug court program that gives non-violent offenders a chance to get clean and sober and turn their lives around. The program has served as a model for others used around Ohio and throughout the United States so that ordinary citizens, not just celebrities and the powerful, get a second chance at making a living and raising their families.
A native of Clark County and the wife of 28 years to husband Rick Brunner, a native of Stark County, the couple has not only been dedicated to public service but community service. Rick and Jennifer were co-presidents of the Bishop Watterson High School Band Boosters when their daughters played in the band, and Jennifer coached the Our Lady of Peace girl's sixth grade volleyball team when one of their three foster children played on the squad. She's a true "soccer mom," having made many trips taking her youngest child to his select team soccer practices and games. Along with raising her three children, she and Rick have been foster parents to three other children, and Jennifer has been an outstanding advocate for others in need. In 2002 she was honored with the "Extra Mile" award from the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill for serving people suffering from mental illness.
Jennifer is prepared for the hard work of turning around Ohio's fractured election system. The oldest of four children, she has worked since she was 16 years old. She's been a waitress, a secretary, a sales clerk, and she served as a student research assistant when she received her undergraduate degree from Miami University in Oxford. She worked as a legislative aide in the Ohio Senate as she studied for her law degree from Capital University in Columbus.
Her upbringing and experience prepares Jennifer to tackle the biggest challenge of her professional career as Ohio's next Secretary of State. She will assure all elections are free, fair, open and honest. She will provide incentives for more poll workers and split shifts so more people are able to participate. She will hire investigators to help all local boards of election find and eliminate voter fraud and intimidation, and she will make sure all of Ohio's voting machines are fairly distributed around the state to avoid unacceptably long wait times to vote. And most importantly she will make sure that our elections are accurately counted for all Ohioans.
Information obtained from Jennifer Brunner's campaign website.