How has your work or job outside of the legislature impacted your work as a legislator?

BILLD News | December 2021

December 17, 2021

Retired law enforcement officer for the Indiana Department of Natural Resources

“The organizational skills and communication skills that I learned as the senior Indiana conservation officer, in the role of [DNR] director of law enforcement, have been valuable in my service as a state senator. But it was following my retirement, when I worked as disaster-preparedness coordinator and security director at my local hospital, that the focus of my legislative efforts took shape. I saw firsthand the challenges that those with mental health and addiction problems face as they attempt to find resources to help them. I also saw the impacts of domestic violence and sexual assault. I have tried to make the systems those folks interact with provide better support and/or more opportunities for justice in their cases. That is the value of citizen legislatures: We bring the experiences of our lives outside of the statehouse to the discussions that occur inside as we attempt to implement good public policy.”



Attorney; news reporter; former mayor and city council member

“As an attorney, one is trained to first determine the issue or question, as well as research the issue/question by looking at the perspective of the history and present status of the law. … This process has helped me navigate the legislative process. However, my job as a news reporter has been the most helpful in all of my endeavors. A reporter’s job is to be the eyes, ears, and sometimes the nose for readers of news. We need to answer the who, what, when, why and how questions for every story. I was taught to approach an assignment from the perspective of what the person who reads the article needs to know to be informed. While it is sometimes hard to take one’s self out of the picture, it is important to be as unbiased in reporting the facts, nothing but the facts. In the legislature … I try to answer those same five questions. I look to see how the legislation will work on the ground level for the people of Ohio. I firmly believe that I need a global perspective for the entire state. I represent an urban area, with diverse social and economic demographics in northwest Ohio on Lake Erie. But I know that the issues that affect my constituents are the exact issues that affect constituents in southeast rural Ohio with their majestic hills.”


Representative Oren L. Lesmeister

Farmer/rancher; agriculture product retail sales; agricultural cooperative

“With the experiences that I have, I am able to educate and bring a different perspective to the more urban legislators that may have little or no experience with the rural aspects of life, just as they teach me about things that I do not have to deal with on an everyday basis. My biggest goal as a legislator is to make sure I educate, or at least have a conversation, about the effect that proposed legislation may have on rural lifestyles. And I want to become educated on how that legislation may affect urban lifestyles. That is the biggest hurdle to overcome — finding a way to have a conversation with opponents. My father always said, ‘If you argue with someone, both walk away mad and nothing becomes of it. If you disagree with someone and talk, you still may learn something.’ If you have a conversation about your differences, not only may you learn something you didn’t know, but you may find common ground or a way to solve the issue. We need more conversations in this country, now more then ever.“



Small-business owner: restaurant, catering business; travel agency

“We opened our restaurant in 2006, and it wasn’t long before we realized that our state and federal legislators were completely out of touch with what keeps families like ours up at night. One of the major drivers in my running for office was the state’s passage of the Iowa Smokefree Air Act. We were already looking at becoming a smoke-free establishment, but what really irritated me was that the state granted the casinos an exemption from following the law. From our vantage point, the little guy was getting stepped on again, and the big guy got what he wanted. It seemed like a pattern that continued to repeat itself. Once elected to the Iowa House of Representatives, I immediately knew that I would lead my district by being completely in touch with my constituents. To this day I still physically work in my restaurant, serving the public. As a citizen legislator, I can easily keep my finger on the pulse of what is concerning to my family, friends and neighbors. I’m a real person, representing real people.”