The Representative's Corner

I have always considered myself a consumer watchdog. From my nearly twenty years on Parma City Council and, now, as your state representative, I am constantly on the lookout to protect consumers. My focus on consumer costs, no doubt, dates back to the days of my childhood. Our family of four lived a normal middle-class lifestyle until my dad abandoned us. My mom lost the house and we would have been homeless if it weren't for family members that helped out. My mom hesitantly applied for food stamps and other public assistance until she sort of got back on her feet because dad never paid a dime of child support and her take home pay was very low.

We eventually moved into a trailer park and life remained financially pretty bad. I recall with sadness mom taking us a couple of towns over to buy groceries because back then food stamps were coupons you tore out of a booklet, so everyone in line knew you were on welfare. It hurt my heart when I heard people murmur things like “white trash” and questioning what mom had in the cart. I also recall how even little costs, like postage stamps and gasoline for the lawn mower, were difficult, let alone buying food, paying the gas and electric bill, and paying the lot space rent.

Since joining the Ohio General Assembly, I have served on the Public Utilities Committee. Public utilities law in Ohio is very complicated, so I work closely with the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel and others to help me interpret many of the bills that come before us. One of the things I have learned about Columbus is that there are not a lot of folks who are on the side of consumers. This is probably because there is not a lot of money to be made in that line of work.

Many good ideas come before our committee - energy efficiency, solar, and other programs that I support. However, when one digs deeper into some of these bills, you find hidden costs for Ohio’s consumers. These hidden costs typically come in the form of what are called “riders” or the new name I recently uncovered in committee, “trackers.” These are hidden costs on our utility bills that you and I pay and don’t even realize it, because in Ohio the utilities do not have to show you what all you are paying for on your monthly bill. You can find these costs, but it is not an easy task.

Folks, it takes a lot of courage to stand up to the multi-billion utility companies and others who support some of these costly programs, but I serve you. I am often the lone voice speaking for the people. I know from my experience growing up, as a member of Parma City Council, and in my new role that there are many Ohioans struggling right here in Parma, Parma Heights, and Cleveland, to make ends meet. So, when I am told, it is only another $1.50 a month here or $1.50 there, I remind the folks in the room that we are talking about real money. I am pleased to say that my work has resulted in preventing some of these added costs. Know that I will continue to advocate for you, despite the high pressure.

As always, if my office may be of service, please contact us via phone or email. I also invite you to visit my website at to learn more about how I am serving you and to sign up for my monthly newsletter. It is an honor to serve you!

Sean Patrick Brennan

Sean Patrick Brennan

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Volume 16, Issue 3, Posted 8:59 AM, 03.01.2024