MANSFIELD, Ohio – Don Bryant said he was surprised and honored to be selected by his Democratic peers recently to fill the at-large Mansfield City Council seat left by Ellen Haring.
“I’ve been in legislative politics for nearly nine years since my internship in 2008,” Bryant said.
Haring and her husband moved to Springfield Township which meant she could no longer serve the voters of Mansfield. Haring’s term for the at-large seat is up in 2015. Bryant said he has already filed a petition to run for the next term's election.
Bryant and Chris Elswick, a Mansfield city schools board member, both addressed the Democratic Central Committee last week to explain why they wanted Haring’s seat.
“It was kind of a surprise because people thought that Chris Elswick was going to get it and I didn’t have a chance,” he said. “It was a shock and I just feel that I’m blessed.”
The Democratic Central Committee is made up of 22 members, 13 of which showed up to vote, Bryant said. The vote was close with Bryant receiving seven votes and Elswick receiving six votes.
Bryant was recently defeated in November by incumbent Republican Mark Romanchuk for the 2nd Ohio House District seat in the general election but had the endorsements of several unions, teachers, Haring and other Democrats.
Bryant, 29, is a Mansfield native and graduated from Mansfield Senior High School in 2003. He began his quest for political office and to “move opportunities forward” in 2008 during an internship with Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown. Bryant then served on former Mayor Don Culliver’s Education Task Force, which helped improve academic and behavioral conditions at Mansfield City Schools, he said. After that opportunity, Bryant then worked as a state legislative aide where he learned how to manage a district with a population of over 114,000 people.
His undergraduate degree is in Political Science and International Relations with a concentration in Security and Intelligence. Currently a teacher in the Mansfield City School System, Bryant’s master’s degree is in Education focusing on Curriculum and Instruction.
Mansfield Mayor Tim Theaker said he is looking forward to working with Bryant on the legislative side of the government. Theaker said he knows Bryant from his political endeavors and Bryant also went to school with Theaker's daughter, Chelsea. In fact, Bryant and Chelsea were on the same swim team in high school, Bryant said.
Bryant said his life story is all about creating opportunities for people.
“Especially for our young people,” he said. “Since I started out as an intern, I’m looking forward to creating a fellowship program, which will probably start at the campaign level teaching young people skills on how to build a campaign and everything that goes along with it.”
Bryant said he would also like to see a full internship program started for every department at the city government level.
“If people are interested in public service and government and seeing how things run, I want to open that opportunity up for people starting as early as middle school, if possible,” he said.
There will be a meet and greet at 6 p.m. Tuesday in council chambers for family, friends and residents and Bryant will be sworn in at 10 minutes before the start of the 7 p.m. council caucus meeting.