Mark Romanchuk sworn in

Ontario's Mark Romanchuk takes the oath of office, accompanied by his wife, Zoi, during the opening ceremony for the 134th General Assembly in January.

COLUMBUS -- Mark Romanchuk said Wednesday he has no intentions of moving away from Ontario.

What that could mean to the Republican's tenure in the Ohio Senate in a few years is yet to be determined after the Ohio Redistricting Commission last week shifted Richland County into a district already represented by the same party.

"It's a little bit early," Romanchuk told Richland Source. "The (Senate and House) maps were just voted on last week. All I know is I am not moving from Ontario.

"I don't know why Richland County got shifted to the west."

Romanchuk, a 59-year-old veteran businessman who got into politics after a successful career, now represents the 22nd Senate District, which includes Richland, Ashland and Medina counties and a small section of Holmes County.

Under a redistricting plan done after the 2020 Census, Richland County will move into the 26th Senate District, which includes Crawford, Seneca, Sandusky and Marion counties and and a portion of Wyandot County.

The seat is up for election in 2024, though voting rights groups have threatened legal action over the newly drawn maps. 

2024 Ohio Senate Districts

The new Ohio Senate District map (Ohio Redistricting Commission)

That area is now represented by Sen. Bill Reineke, a businessman from Tiffin, though Richland County is by far the most populous county in the new district.

In the Ohio House, Richland County remained in a single-county district, currently held by Rep. Marilyn John (R-Shelby).

According to the new Census, Richland County has 124,936 residents. The next largest county in the new district is Marion with 65,359. Seneca is third with 55,069.

The owner of PR Machine Works in Ontario said he is not certain why the shift was made by the Republican-led redistricting commission.

"I think maybe it was due to shifting populations and the new rules voters passed in 2015 which required more compact looking districts," Romanchuk said. "If you look at the map of the Senate districts, they look very compact, they are clean and they follow the (Ohio) Constitution's amended rules passed in 2015."

Some media outlets, including the Ohio Capital Journal, have speculated Romanchuk was being "punished" by his own party for his outspoken efforts against HB 6, legislation bailing out energy companies that is now at the center of a federal racketeering prosecution.

As a state representative, Romanchuk opposed the legislation when it was introduced and has worked to repeal it since its passage.

"I have thought about (that theory)," Romanchuk said. "I don't have any evidence as we speak that was this done on purpose due to my outspoken nature on HB 6. Maybe there will be more information forthcoming in the future.

"It's all speculation. It's fun for some media outlets to drum up this kind of conspiracy theory, but I don't think it's happening in this case," he said. "I think it came down to the math and the new rules kind of working against Richland County and me personally."

One thing Romanchuk said he will not do is try to keep his current home and try to establish a "legal residence" in a "new" district as a means of seeking re-election.

"That is not something I would even consider. I have seen some in the past do things like that. I don't operate that way personally. I don't operate my business that way," said Romanchuk, an Ontario High School graduate who later earned an MBA at Vanderbilt University.

It could mean a primary campaign against Reineke in 2024, should the 66-year-old Tiffin resident seek re-election to a second term.

"With regard to a primary against one of my colleagues, it's just way too early to consider that concept," Romanchuk said. "Sen. Reineke is a good guy. I see him every day and we have worked on several issues together.

"It would be a very difficult decision to make to run against him. I have a couple of years to think about it and he will have to make a decision, too," Romanchuk said. "We haven't talked about it at all."

Romanchuk said he has three-plus years in his current role to get things done in Columbus.

"I will have another (state) budget to work on. Many of the things I do (in the Senate) are inside that budget document ... 20 to 30 things every budget cycle.

"I have plenty of things to work on. I am the type of guy who will run through the tape. I will not slow down and I will finish strong if, in fact, 2024 is my last year in the Senate."

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City editor. 30-year plus journalist. Husband. Father of 3 grown sons and also a proud grandpa. Prior military journalist in U.S. Navy, Ohio Air National Guard. -- Favorite quote: "Where were you when the page was blank?"