The Ohio Statehouse might be the next step for a former Ohio State Undergraduate Student Government president.
Micah Kamrass, who was the 2010-11 USG president, is set to run unopposed as a Democrat in the May Democratic primary for state representative of the 28th Ohio House District, and then as the Democratic candidate for the election in November. Three Republicans are in the race as well: Rick Bryan, Kimberly Angel Clark and Jonathan Dever.
Kamrass, who expects to complete a law degree and master’s degree in public policy from OSU in May, currently works for a law firm in Cincinnati, Manley Burke. Between commuting from school to work, Kamrass has been campaigning and gaining endorsements from the Hamilton County Democratic Party, Ohio Democratic Party and the district’s incumbent Democrat Connie Pillich, Kamrass said. Pillich, who is running for Ohio Treasurer, began serving in 2009.
Kamrass said he couldn’t have imagined he would be running for the Statehouse at 25 years old back when he was serving as USG president.
“I always thought that maybe one day, running for office would be something I would want to do, but this was such an incredible opportunity where the incumbent was from where I grew up … and (Pillich) wanted to support me and thought I would do a good job,” Kamrass said.
But, he said he has learned enough from his experiences at OSU to be ready.
“When I was USG president, I learned how amazing it was to have the opportunity to wake up every morning and help solve problems,” Kamrass said. “I definitely learned the value of public service and helping others. I also saw firsthand the impact that the Statehouse can have on people’s lives.”
The size of OSU gave him additional relevant experience: Kamrass said when he was president, the undergraduate student population was about 40,000 students, compared to the approximately 100,000 people in Ohio’s 28th District.
“My undergraduate education exposed me to a bigger world than I had seen in high school (in Blue Ash), and helped me learn about communities that were a little different,” Kamrass said. “On my first day at Ohio State … my roommate was a dairy farmer, and I had never met a farmer before that.”
Current USG President Taylor Stepp, a fourth-year in public affairs who was in USG while Kamrass was president, said he was unsurprised Kamrass was in the race.
“Anyone who’s known Micah for some time has known that he was going to be doing big things,” Stepp said. “He’s done a really good job of reaching out to people who have been involved in politics for some time, and getting a sense of perspective … that’s a really admirable quality.”
Kamrass and Stepp both referenced notables who were once USG presidents, including Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel, State Rep. John Carney, who is running for state auditor, and former Cleveland Mayor Mike White. Ohio Gov. John Kasich also ran for USG president and vice president but lost both times.
“There could be a situation in the 2014 elections where half of the statewide elected office holders in Ohio ran for USG president,” Stepp said. “A lot of people have told me this is the best experience for a career in politics, a career in business or really anything.”
Kamrass said his platform is based on three areas. The first is education — particularly keeping college affordable and looking at Ohio’s school funding system. The other two points are job creation and investment in communities, through which Kamrass wants to keep constituents in Ohio and draw in people from other states.
Representatives from College Democrats and College Republicans declined to comment on Kamrass’ candidacy.
As USG president, Kamrass and former USG Vice President Brad Pyle received nearly 55 percent of votes. They succeeded in accomplishing several of their more than 150 initiatives, including extending William Oxley Thompson Memorial Library hours and increasing the number of student football game tickets.
Kamrass was known for holding office hours on the Oval, which he called “one of the best parts of the job,” and he said he wants to continue a similar practice in his community if he wins the election.
“The best representatives find a way to listen to people,” Kamrass said. “I certainly want to continue that spirit in this office.”
As for future politicians emerging from OSU, Kamrass had a few tips.
“Believe in yourself and your ability, always prioritize listening to others, especially younger people who want to get into politics, and finally … have the courage to try and put yourself out there,” Kamrass said. “It may work out, it may not, but one way or the other you’ll learn a ton from the experience and meet a lot of great people.”