State of Ohio Leadership Institute

Developing the Next Generation of Ohio’s Elected State and Local Leaders

Motivation – Turnover, Incivility and the Loss of Institutional Knowledge

On November 3, 1992, a majority of Ohio voters approved amendments limiting the terms of state elected officials. Issues 3 and 4 limited state senators to two successive four year terms, state representatives to four successive two year terms, and the lieutenant governor, secretary of state, treasurer of state, attorney general and auditor to two successive four year terms.

The impetus of the term limit movement in Ohio (and nationally) was to provide opportunities for more “citizen” legislators to bring new and innovative ideas to government and increase the accountability of elected officials to voters.

As expected, turnover in state elected offices has increased. In the last decade, Ohio’s elected officials have served in their roles for shorter periods of time than in the past.

An unintended consequence of term limits has been the loss of institutional knowledge among elected officials about Ohio’s government, the major policy issues facing the state, and the ethical requirements of representing the public. While each election brings a new collection of Ohio citizens into office, it also ushers out many officials who have gained expertise about how Ohio’s government functions and the important details about what policy approaches have worked and what approaches have not. With less time in office, state legislators have a shorter time horizon for the policy and fiscal changes they consider.

The turnover at the state level has also had cascading impacts at lower levels. With state level term limits opening up elected positions more frequently, local elected officials – city council members, mayors, county officials – have left their offices to run for state office. The same loss of institutional knowledge and short time horizon among state elected officials now exists at the county and local levels as well.

The character of elections and policy making has also changed. Elections are designed to provide citizens a choice between candidates competing for office with different sets of public priorities and alternative solutions to address those priorities. In recent elections, political discourse has gone from objective debates about alternative policy proposals to a more a negative portrayal of candidates, parties, and constituents. Newly elected representatives face less electoral pressure to make decisions that take different constituent perspectives into account. Incivility is on the rise and collaboration across party lines is rare.

Vision – Developing the Next Generation of Ohio’s State and Local Elected Leaders

Ohio is America. Ohio is home to the 7th largest population in the country, is 14th among states in agricultural production, and has three of the United States’ 40 largest metropolitan areas (only Texas and California have more major metro areas). Ohio’s demographic makeup mirrors the demography of the country. Ohio is the consummate political swing state – the last candidate to win the U.S. presidency without carrying Ohio was John F. Kennedy in 1960.

The vision of the State of Ohio Leadership Institute (SOLI) is to prepare and develop Ohio’s elected and appointed officials as ethical leaders driven to deliver value to the constituents, customers, and citizens of Ohio over the long term.

SOLI’s target audience includes elected and appointed officials at the state and local levels. By delivering programming across levels, SOLI contributes to institutional continuity across elected and appointed offices – a common grounding in elected leadership training will ensure that as officials leave one office, those replacing them will be equipped with the knowledge, skills and values needed to deliver value to Ohio’s citizens over the long term.

At the state level, SOLI leadership programming is available for:

  • Executive and legislative elected officials
  • High-ranking policy staffers (e.g. chiefs of staff and policy directors)
  • Agency heads and principal staff
  • State school board members

At the local level, SOLI leadership programming is available for:

  • County commissioners
  • Auditors
  • Treasurers
  • Elected county council members (Cuyahoga and Summit)
  • Elected city council members
  • Mayors and city managers
  • Township trustees and administrators

Contact Information