Karen Bell
TheNewsOutlet.org

Name: Ann E. Jacobs.

District 1: Elected in 2008, re-elected in 2012. Term ends Dec. 31, 2016. Covers Williams, Defiance, Henry, Paulding, Putnam,Van Wert, Allen, Mercer, Auglaize, Shelby, Hancock, Hardin, Logan, Champaign, Union, Sandusky, Seneca, Wyandot, Crawford, Marion, Morrow, and parts of Fulton and Darke counties.

School board committees: Achievement; Legislative and Budget; Appointments.

Age: 63.

Residence: Lima.

Political affiliation: Republican.

Occupation: Attorney.

Education: Public high school; bachelor’s degree, psychology; law degree.

Family: Not married, one grown child who attended public school.

Other boards, affiliations: Former president, vice president Shawnee Local and Apollo Joint Vocational Board; bar associations in California, District of Columbia, Ohio, South Carolina; Boards of Senior Citizens, YMCA and Marimor Industries, a nonprofit group that provides training and employment for Allen County residents with developmental disabilities; elder and deacon of Market Street Presbyterian Church.

Serving on the Ohio Board of Education runs in the family for Ann E. Jacobs of Lima.

Her mother, Virginia Jacobs, served on the board for 26 years before leaving office in 2005 because of term limits.

Ann Jacobs, an attorney in private practice, first ran for the open seat in District 1 in 2008. During the campaign, Jacobs was critical of Gov. Ted Strickland’s proposal to eliminate the 11 elected seats and appoint all the members. Currently, there are eight appointed seats.

“They have started down a slippery slope. They are trying to politicize the board. I think it has worked effectively the way it is for years,” Jacobs was quoted as saying in the Courier, a Findlay newspaper.

With 65 percent of the vote, she went to Columbus representing a district covering about a fifth of rural Northwest Ohio.

In the 2012 election, she also won with 65 percent of the vote, this time against sports commentator and former Ohio State University quarterback Stanley Jackson. Gov. John Kasich had appointed Jackson to an at-large post in June. Later, Jackson chose to try to unseat Jacobs from her elected position.

In that campaign, Jacobs raised $7,426, with the largest contribution coming from the Ohio Education Association Fund for Children and Public Education, $5,000; and the Turnaround Ohio PAC, $1,400.

Before the state school board, she served on the school board of the district where she graduated from high school, Shawnee Local, and also served on the area vocational school board.

Although she is a Republican, as is most of the state board, she views herself as a minority.

“I feel like I don’t owe an allegiance to anyone,” Jacobs said. “I am a big advocate of the public school systems, which unfortunately the board isn’t anymore.”

She also is critical of Gov. John Kasich on that point.

“I don’t mean to be sarcastic, but our governor is all in favor of private schools and vouchers and, unfortunately, that’s controlling the board members. It’s really a shame.”

She was on the losing side in April when there was an attempt to unseat board president Debe Terhar over a posting on her personal Facebook page. As President Barack Obama pushed for new gun regulations after 26 were killed at a Connecticut elementary school, Terhar shared a photo of Hitler with a statement about tyrants who want to take over a country first taking away the guns.

“The board is supposed to be nonpartisan, but Terhar’s posting is the latest sign of how partisan it’s gotten in recent years,” Jacobs said.

She granted one of the shortest interviews for this project and declined to answer several questions on charter schools, funding and curriculum.

Asked about Jacobs’ performance on the board, Brian Rockhold, superintendent of Allen County schools in her district, said she sometimes calls to get local input on issues coming before the state board.

“The state board has well-intentioned and well-meaning folks like Ann, who are representative and elected by the public. I think that the state board lost some of its autonomy dating back to Gov. [George] Voinovich’s administration when it became almost 50/50 elected and appointed,” Rockhold said.

Answers to some interview questions:

Q: What were some of the reasons you wanted to be on the school board?

A: You know, a lifetime ongoing interest in education and probably a big influence was the fact that my mother Virginia Jacobs was on the school board for 26 years. I sort of grew up knowing about the board and attending meetings.

Q: What special skills or strengths do you bring to your work with the board?

A: I feel like I don’t own an allegiance to anyone — only to the students. I have the history in education. I was president of the Shawnee school board a couple of times and on the joint vocational school board and have many years of that experience as well.

TheNewsOutlet.org is a collaborative effort among the Youngstown State University journalism program, the University of Akron and professional media outlets including WYSU-FM radio and the Vindicator in Youngstown, the Beacon Journal and Rubber City Radio in Akron.