ICYMI 3rd Rail Legislative Candidate Profile: Jim Trakas, House District 6
1) Tell us about yourself?
I am a second generation American of Greek heritage, my grandfather fought with the Greek Army against the Ottoman Empire, my father was a decorated combat veteran, Staff Sargent Peter W. Trakas, U.S. 95th Infantry Division and Kathy L. Trakas, who sold war bonds during WWII and worked for the Veterans Administration. I am the 3rd of 3 children, born May 05, 1965. Born, raised, and still live in Independence, Ohio where I graduated from Independence High School in 1983 and The Ohio State University, B.A., 1987. Married to Anne Kennedy Trakas since 2006. We have four little cats; Sir Winston, Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, Smokey, and Ollie. I started my career delivering the Cleveland Press, worked as a custodian for the public schools, worked in manufacturing during and after college at Allied Color Industries, Inc., served on the Independence City Council and as a member of the Ohio House of Representatives, and currently own American Online Learning Center providing diversion and probation services for misdemeanor offenders and corporate training, as well as a consulting business. My Mother lives with my wife and I and we are her caregivers. It provides a perspective on Senior care which is both an honor, and provides the opportunity to help a wonderful Mom who cared for me so tenderly through the years.
2) Why did you decide to run for the Ohio House of Representatives?
Having served for the past two terms on City Council in Independence, I feel compelled to use the experience of a lifetime of private sector and public experience to help the State. I read a stark figure, Ohio's average household income is almost exactly what it was when I was first elected to the House of Representatives in 1998. I want to offer my original innovative ideas to the people of Ohio to help raise incomes for Ohio families, improve public education, make college affordable to average Ohioans who should not have to graduate with the equivalent of a mortgage. I know that we can do better, and that I can help Ohio to do much better.
3) What are the key issues voters are concerned about in your district?
District 6 has seen an almost complete disengagement and "Robin Hood" theft on school funding, our local dollars are being siphoned off to fund everyone else's schools, dramatically increasing local property taxes. One of my last major acts as a Legislator was to work to assure that 25% of the CAT tax replacement for the local TPP elimination was allocated back to the communities where the funds were generated. This Legislature eliminated that, it was never intended to be temporary, and I helped draft it. Getting our fair share of state funding is crucial, as well as the devastation of the local government fund to balance the state budget. Both are hot topics with residents. Also, the cost of higher education is of great concern to a district that possesses one of the highest educational attainment rates in Ohio. District 6 also employs many people in the energy sector and related services, so energy policy is important, and law and order means a lot to us in Greater Cleveland. This district strenuously disagrees with policies that let criminals out of prison or do not charge them with prison worthy crimes. Many constituents see this as a violation of the social contract. Rounding out the list are concerns about economic stagnation, particularly for Seniors on fixed incomes.
4) What will be your priorities if elected to the House?
Having my eyes opened from my prior work in government, and current service to the people of Independence, I would seek consensus on the issues that impact my district and set out to accomplish the following:
A. Devise a Constitutional Amendment for Education and Education Financing that harms no school districts and forces needed changes. We can no longer rely on the Legislature, look at what we got? Time to stop picking winners and losers and provide a stable funding source for schools, as well as tools to lower the cost of education.
B. Work to eliminate or severally change Common Core, and replace it, and its relentless testing with proven models that work. My parents curriculum of the Greatest Generation would be an ideal replacement. Also seek to revise the Value Added Measure and State Report Card, both complete failures by our Department of Education, and in great need of being revamped.
C. Seek to increase spending on higher education, while at the same time, lowering tuition - not freezing - and eliminate cost and degree programs that do not lead to private sector employment. I would also seek to eliminate communist propaganda on our college campuses, by not allowing Red China to sponsor "Confucius Institutes" on Ohio college campuses. These are pure and simple propaganda mouthpieces of the communist government, and have no business polluting the minds of young Ohioans.
D. Ramp down the eligibility for welfare in Ohio gradually, insist upon work requirements for welfare, and work vigorously to align Ohio's social service and educational programming to encourage stable two parent families. We have seen what Hillary Rodham Clinton's "It takes a village to raise a child" philosophy fail miserably over the past twenty years, and need to reinstate Ohio families for much better outcomes - educationally, socially, economically. It is proven that we can lift Ohioans out of poverty by going back to the stable family model and abandoning the disastrous results of the Village's failed experiment in raising Ohio children.
5) How do you feel about term limits?
They are the law of the land, I was for them in 1992 and now, and have worked to provide perspective to eliminate a permanent governing class. I hear many privately grumble about term limits, but they are not going away, and both parties can do a better job of selecting high quality candidates to fill the positions of term limited legislators. Let us embrace the people's will and allow it to work for their greater good.
6) What do you like to do in your spare time?
Anne and I like to visit antique stores, auctions, as well as historical places. Cleveland is rich in great heritage, as well as our nationalities, and we enjoy ethnic festivals and events to celebrate the lives, religion, and cultures of the great people of Greater Cleveland. We particularly like WWII patriotic memorabilia, military collectibles, 19th Century art and collectibles, although we cannot afford it!
7) What is the last book you read?
"The Generals" by Thomas Ricks. I serve as 1st Lieutenant (OH) with Ohio Military Reserve, 1st BN, Headquarters Company Commander, and our Brigade Commander asks all officers to read various books on command philosophy. It was a fascinating book about good and poor decision making in battle, and the concept of "relief" of those who are not up to the challenge, a concept that General of The Army George C. Marshall, COS, advanced with success during the Second World War. The voters can also issue "relief" orders to those who are not doing their job, a nice parallel. It taught me much about command philosophy and hopefully makes me a better officer and elected official.
8) Why should voters elect you to the House of Representatives?
I possess the requisite experience, policy knowledge, private and public sector background, original ideas, and passion to properly represent the people. I am running as a change agent and swamp drainer. I know how the swamp operates, and just what to do to sort out the alligators from the minnows.
9) Anything else you would like to add?
I have a passion for democracy, and the ancient Greek ideal of Western Civilization, and its Judeo-Christian virtues. I intend to be a strong champion for Greater Cleveland and to always remember that I am a humble servant of God first, and the people. I hope that I can use my experience and relationship building skills to further the aspirations of the people of District 6 and all Ohio.