Three board seats up for vote in 2017

Election to begin in August for terms beginning in January

By Michael Pramik, Ohio Public Employees Retirement System

July 5, 2017 — Elections for three seats on the OPERS and Ohio Deferred Compensation Boards of Trustees will be held this year. Those elected will serve four-year terms beginning Jan. 1, 2018.

The OPERS Board of Trustees consists of 11 representatives, and seven are elected. The three seats up for election in 2017 include one representative for each of the following groups:

  • County employees – Representing approximately 87,600 members working at a county job within the state.
  • Miscellaneous employees – Representing approximately 46,000 members not included in one of the other groups, employers such as: park districts, conservancy districts, sanitary districts, health districts, townships, metropolitan housing authorities, state retirement systems, public libraries, county law libraries, union cemeteries, joint hospitals or institutional commissaries within the state.
  • Retirees – One of two seats representing approximately 177,500 age-and-service, disability, defined contribution plan and re-employed retirees.

Any active OPERS member, with the exception of one receiving a disability benefit, is eligible for election to represent the members of their employee group on the OPERS Board of Trustees.

Any OPERS retiree receiving an age-and-service benefit, disability benefit or benefits under the OPERS defined contribution plan is eligible to run for election. This group also includes re-employed retirees.

Beneficiaries, who may include surviving family members, and those who hold powers of attorney for members are not eligible to run for election or nominate candidates by signing a petition. They are also ineligible to vote and will not receive a ballot.

For interested candidates

Nominating petition packets are available online at and at the OPERS office. Packets also are available through OPERS county and miscellaneous employers.

Interested parties also can call 800-222-7377 to request a packet. Completed nominating petitions, biographical statements and certification by candidates must be received at the OPERS office to the attention of Julie Becker no later than 4:30 p.m. July 31. Petitions postmarked on or before this date, but received later, are invalid.

Voting information

If you’re an OPERS member and are eligible to vote, a ballot will be mailed to your home during August. All votes must be received by midnight, Sept. 29. The election count is scheduled for Oct. 2. The results will be certified by the office of the Ohio Secretary of State.

Your retirement and your representation on the OPERS Board are important, so please be an active participant in the election process and cast your vote.

Michael Pramik

Michael Pramik is communication strategist for the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System and editor of the PERSpective blog. As an experienced business journalist, he clarifies complex pension policies and helps members make smart choices to secure their retirement.

Michael Pramik

Communication Strategist

  • OPERS tries to make us believe we are choosing who’s best for the positions available. However, I find voting for someone based on just a blurb ridiculous. We’re not choosing. You’ve chosen who will run. I don’t waste my time voting. How about having a video of them presenting themselves, then OPERS retirees and members ask questions? Then, at least, I’d have some idea for whom I’d want to vote for. Thank you.

    • Janice,

      Thank you for your comment. OPERS does not select or endorse any candidates for the Board and any qualifying OPERS member or retiree is eligible for election to represent members of their group. The bios you mentioned are drafted by the candidates, not OPERS, as each qualifying candidate is given up to 200 words on the ballot to describe their background. Beyond that candidates directly reach out to members just as a candidate for any public office might.

      Under Ohio law, a candidate seeking election to an employee member Board seat is required to obtain a minimum of 500 signatures from active members within their employee group. At least 10 different counties must be represented by a minimum of 20 signatures each. A candidate for a retiree Board seat is required to obtain at least 250 signatures from retirees. At least five different counties must be represented by a minimum of 10 signatures each.

      Julie, OPERS

      • Thank you for the clarification. However, 200 words isn’t much and I’ve never seen or heard a candidate reach out. From what platform do they reach out? Email, their personal FB page , OPERS FB page, in newspapers? Thank you for your assistance.

        • Janice,

          In their biographical statement, board candidates may include their contact information and references to their Facebook page or website if they choose to use one. In the end, it’s up to the candidate to promote their candidacy.


  • I have to reply to Janice above. I held elective office for many years and like some of the people I represented she finds it easier to complain instead of rolling up her sleeves and making a difference. If she does not like the candidates then she is free to run for the seat herself. That would mean getting out of the house and getting the appropriate signatures in various counties and also getting around to various retiree groups and talking about how she could make a difference.

    • I find Mr. Suhadolnik’s reply to Ms. Zupancic just a little off (maybe a little disrespectful). I agree with Ms. Zupanicic. After all, these elected Board members are the folks who approve / vote on OPERS changes and investments. I would like to see a live video conference as well — I thought that was a great idea!
      Best regards,
      Cheryl H.

    • You missed the point Gary. She appropriately is requesting more information from the candidates. I think we should all be rolling up our sleeves and complaining that we did not get that from a 200 word statement.

  • Except for current state employees whose rep on the Board has been traditionally the OCSEA President and probably has at least some name recognition among that employee group, other reps may only be known to a minority of their respective employee groups they are representing. There should be more done by both the candidates and OPERS to introduce those who are running for election so we can have a basis for a voting decision. As a retiree, I do not plan to vote as I do not know enough about the candidates to case a knowledgable ballot.

    • Carolyn it is true it is challenging to find out more about the candidates however what is the alternative? Do you want these candidates to have fund raisers and to start seeking campaign contributions? Then like our elected public officials everyone will start complaining how expensive campaigns are and then make suggestions about their views based upon who contributes to their campaigns. Certainly the employee unions will have some clout because most of the retirees when working belonged to various unions. Fortunately, our laws limit what the retirement boards can do. Also fortunately the Boards are fairly balanced and are heavily weighted in favor of the retiree and retiree benefits. Bottom line however is that mathematics ultimately wins over emotions and excessive benefits.

  • Although OPERS does not endorse candidates, PERI does and makes no apology about it. At a recent Chapter meeting, they were asked why they were endorsing two candidates who and running for the Board, they said those people were the best in their opinion. Those two are frequently present at meetings. When asked shouldn’t they invite other Board candidates, they said “No. That is not their responsibility.” I am fairly unhappy with PERI right now.

    • Diane, after reading your post, I felt it would be beneficial to remind all members that PERI does not endorse candidates for either of the retiree slots on the OPERS board. This has been and continues to be our policy. We do allow all candidates who wish to circulate petitions with our chapters to do so. This simply provides them with an opportunity to “make the ballot.”

      I have been traveling the state attending PERI district meetings and have made mention on occasion of our satisfaction with the level of engagement the current retiree members have demonstrated while serving on OPERS board. This is not an endorsement and should not be construed as such.

      If chapters are offering an endorsement of any candidate for the retiree slot to be elected this fall, they are not authorized to do so. Feel free to contact me at our state office if you wish to discuss this issue further.

      Geoff Hetrick
      PERI President & CEO

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