About Me & Why I Chose to Run


Running for office is the most important thing I will ever do in my lifetime.
 
I spent the first 2.5 years of my life in an orphanage, located in Italy. I didn’t have access to much, an environment where I could thrive or to the people who could advocate on my behalf. Eventually I was adopted into an Italian-American family and brought to America where I grew up in a small, ethnic town on the Ohio River where families thrived working in the steel and coal industries, including my parents. For a moment, I no longer felt voiceless, alone and afraid. I now had people in my life who would love me, care for me, and be my first champions. My parents.
 
Both of my parents worked more than one job to pay the bills and to give my brother and me a good education. I had twelve years of Catholic schooling and graduated from Ohio University with a degree in Journalism/Pubic Relations. During University I held two jobs, one of which was Work Study, completed several internships and relied on grants to help along the way. At an early age, thanks to my parents who wanted better for me than what they had, I understood and practiced good work ethics and never took for granted the opportunity to have a good education.
 
While I knew I had the knowledge, will and desire to thrive, during my school years I didn’t have access to role models or advocates who could inspire, challenge and champion me to be my best. If they existed, I had no idea where to find them. Sure, I had my parents, but I needed more as I prepared for my future. Like many Americans today, who don’t feel like they have a champion in their corner, someone who will listen, advocate for them and give them access to the resources they need to thrive, I still had hope.
 
What I didn’t have growing up, I wanted to make sure no one went without, because now I understood the power of being mentored and mentoring; having an advocate stand on your behalf; and someone to champion your every dream. I dedicated my professional life to championing and advocating for social services whose missions serve some of the most marginalized groups of people: the mentally ill, developmentally disabled, low-income families, and women, many of whom don’t feel like their voices are being heard, lack access to advocates, and most definitely don’t have access to public servants who work on their behalf.
 
Professionally, I was on a roll making sure social services were available to all people in need. And then my passion to advocate started to become a bit more personal. I began speaking to women, like myself, who had dreams of owning their own businesses, but they lacked the support, know-how and resources to make it happen. In 2007, I created a business community called Dames Bond to provide women who want to start a business, the resources and networking opportunities to stay and thrive in business.
 
It was a very proud moment for me when Dames Bond was recognized by Forbes and Money Magazine for providing unique networking events and the only all-female, business directory, free to consumers. Interestingly, I had a lot of female artisans who wanted to be a part of the business community. I had to figure out how to get their products noticed and in the hands of consumers, so I opened the Dames Bond Marketplace, the first of its kind, retail consignment shop that showcased products made solely by women.
 
Continuing my passion to champion women, in 2016 I created Speaking of Gender, a citizen action group that champions gender balance and equality. Our mission is simple, to ensure women are included in leadership and speaking roles in professional and public programs.
 
And then the election happened! What on God’s green earth just happened?!?! It’s a nightmare that haunts me to this day! I have never felt so afraid for our futures, especially for women, the GLBTQ community, and people of color. And while the thought of politics still confused and frightened me, given what just happened, I instinctively knew I had to step up, get involved and figure out how to get America back again! Even through devastation, I still had hope!
 
Early in 2017, when the Women's March on Washington was being organized, I helped fill two coach busses with "Rise" and created a "rolling workshop" to educate and inspire all 120 traveling with us. We had speakers like Mary Jo Kilroy, State Representative Teresa Fedor, a social worker, counselor and police officer, all to support "why" we were going, "how" to be safe and "what" we could bring back to Ohio, all to create change and to advocate for the health and safety of females, and for women to have the freedom and right of choice.
 
During the March, I witnessed over a million women, men and children, of all races and backgrounds, gather to lend their voices, and to be heard. To say I was incredibly moved by this experience doesn’t touch the surface. To this day, thoughts of the March gives me chills and an overwhelming sense of emotion and pride.
 
As we were departing DC, while feeling a greater sense of hope for America’s future, I couldn’t help but wonder how many would return to their homes, without an advocate and champion, voiceless, alone, and afraid.
 
I came back to Columbus more compelled than ever to get involved on a larger scale and to create a platform where the people not only feel like they have a voice, but an advocate to champion change. If running for office was imminent, I had a lot to learn and fast!
 
Because I would be running as a progressive Democrat, I immediately started taking workshops with LEAD Ohio, Emily’s List and at the John Glenn College of Public Affairs. I also started meeting with local officials, and attending community meetings. I had to learn how to run, what to run for and to determine if I have what it takes to work for the people.
 
Eleven months after the March on Washington, after a lot of soul searching, learning and putting together a dynamic team, I am running for Ohio House Representative in District 24. In fact, I’m so passionate about working for the people, my partner and I purposefully bought a home and moved into this district so that I could run. Bottom line, I can no longer sit idly by watching the current government strip us from our rights to live freely, equally and with dignity.
 
I am going to be a representative who engages the community, is a voice of the district, who works on legislation and connecting Ohio citizens to resources that can improve their quality of life. I plan to establish relationships on both sides of the aisle in order to set public policy where my focus will be on pay equity across the board, providing a living wage, race & gender equality and most certainly, building the economy one small business at a time.
 
Gone are the days where people feel voiceless, alone and afraid for our future.

 
Mary B. Relotto
Future Candidate for the Ohio State House, District 24
 
Download Biography (PDF)
An advocate to champion change in support of equality for all, safe neighborhoods, a good education and a thriving economy.

OHIO DISTRICT 24 — COLUMBUS, OHIO

Columbus Darbydale Grove City Harrisburg Hilliard Lake Darby Worthington Upper Arlington