Elected Officials > State Senate – Democratic Minority Leadership – 132nd General Assembly

State Senate - Democratic Minority Leadership - 132nd General Assembly

The Ohio Senate minority caucus is comprised of the party with the fewest members represented. Each session, members of the minority caucus select a slate of leaders, headed by the minority leader.

Minority Leader – Kenny Yuko – Senate District 25. The minority leader is elected by all members of the Senate to lead the party in the minority. He or she is responsible for the development and implementation of the minority party.

Representing Ohio’s 25th Senate District that includes parts of both Cuyahoga and Lake Counties, State Senator Kenny Yuko has devoted his career to strengthening Northeast Ohio and improving the lives of those who call it KYuko - Photohome.

Senator Yuko grew up in Euclid and graduated from Brush High School in the South Euclid/Lyndhurst School District in 1968. He then attended both Cuyahoga Community College and Kent State University before entering the workforce.

Yuko began his career as a clothing buyer for Polsky’s Department Store, but he soon found his true passion with union organizing. He served with the Laborers’ Local #860 for 30 years, including 25 years as union organizer. He retired from that service in 2004. During his long career, he received multiple awards for his efforts, including the “2000 Organizing Award” from his International Union.

With this experience under his belt, Yuko ran for State Representative in 2004 with the goals of protecting working families, promoting health care access, and improving Ohio’s economic climate.  He won convincingly and was subsequently re-elected for three more terms. During his tenure in the House, he served as both Chairman and Ranking Member of the Commerce and Labor Committee, and was also a member on the Committees on Health and Aging and Veterans Affairs.

Because of his outstanding dedication to the causes he cares about, Yuko has received numerous awards and recognitions, including: AFL-CIO Lifetime Achievement Award, Kym Sellers Foundation Triumphant Award, National MS Society Advocacy Hall of Fame, Ohio Counseling Association Public Policy & Legislation Award, Home Medical Equipment Services Industry State Legislator of the Year Award, Linking Employment Abilities & Potential (LEAP) Legislative Advocacy Award, National Association of Mental Illness (NAMI) Legislator of Year Award, Ohio Ambulance & Medical Transportation Association Legislator of the Year Award, The Rosemary Home Angel of the Year, Mayor Georgine Welo Community Service Award, and various other awards and citations for his years of service to the community.

Yuko resides in Richmond Heights with his wife Pam.  He has two grown children, Rocky and Angela, and three grandchildren.

Contact Senator Yuko
Senate Building
1 Capitol Square, Ground Floor
Columbus, OH 43215
(614) 466-4583
Email Senator Yuko

Assistant Minority Leader – Charleta B. Tavares – Senate District 15. The assistant minority leader is elected by all members of the Senate and assists the minority leader in development and implementation of the agenda for the minority party.

Charleta B. Tavares (D-Columbus) was re-elected and sworn in on January 5, 2015 as the State Senator for the 15th District and Assistant Democratic Leader in the Ohio Senate. A
ctavares-photocommitted public servant, she has served since 2011 as the State Senator, which includes, Bexley and parts of Grandview Heights as well as the historic neighborhoods of the city of Columbus. She currently serves as the Senate ranking member on both the Ways and Means and the Health and Human Services Committees. In addition, she also serves as a member of the Finance, Finance Subcommittee on Corrections, Joint Medicaid Oversight Committee, Joint Committee on Agency Rules and Review, and serves as Co-Chair of the Ohio Constitutional Modernization Commission.

Tavares previously served as member of Columbus City Council from 1999-2010. Prior to joining Council, Tavares left a legacy for the citizens of Ohio during her 5 ½-year tenure in the Ohio General Assembly as the State Representative in the 22nd House District. Tavares is the first African-American and Democrat female to serve in the state legislature from Franklin County, Ohio (House and Senate) and the first African-American woman ever to hold a leadership position in the history of the Ohio General Assembly.

Tavares was recently selected to serve as the President/CEO of Primary One Health. A federally qualified primary healthcare system to provide access to services that improve the health status of families including people experiencing financial, social, or cultural barriers to health care.

Tavares recently served as Executive Director of the Multiethnic Advocates for Cultural Competence (MACC), a statewide non-profit membership organization whose mission is to enhance the quality of care in Ohio’s health care system and to incorporate culturally competent models of practice into the systems and organizations that provide services to Ohio’s diverse populations.

Tavares’ legislative priorities include: the elimination of health, education and criminal justice disparities; investment in Ohio’s infrastructure; consumer protection; and addressing family stability.

She is a native of Columbus. She attended Eastmoor High School, Spellman College in Atlanta, GA, and The Ohio State University.

Contact Senator Tavares
Senate Building
1 Capitol Square, 2nd Floor
Columbus, OH 43215
(614) 466-5131
Email Senator Tavares

Minority Whip – Edna Brown – Senate District 11. The minority whip is elected by all members of the Senate and is responsible for monitoring legislation and securing votes for legislation on the floor for the minority party.

Edna Brown (D-Toledo) was first elected to serve Ohio’s 11th Senate district in November, 2010. Prior to joining the Senate, her dedication to public service led to a 32-year career as an
ebrown-photoemployee with the city of Toledo, followed by an eight-year tenure as a member of Toledo City Council. She was appointed to the Statehouse in January 2002 to fill a vacated seat in the Ohio House of Representatives. Senator Brown was re-elected to the Senate in 2014 and currently serves as the Democratic Whip.

Senator Brown has been appointed to the Health & Human Services, Economic Development and Education Committees of the Midwest Council of State Governments. She is First Vice President of the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus, and serves on the Executive Committee of the National Black Caucus of State Legislators.  Senator Brown is state director for WILL/WAND, a non-partisan national organization for women legislators. She was a founding member of the Greater Toledo Urban League. Senator Brown is a past chair of the Administration Board for Braden United Methodist Church and a charter member of the Executive Women’s Golf Association.

Senator Brown’s idea to bring “no excuse” absentee voting to Ohio was incorporated into a bill that became state law in January 2006. For her efforts, the Ohio Association of Election Officials and the Ohio Secretary of State honored her with the Jack Wolfe Memorial Award as one of two “Legislators of the Year.” In 2007, Senator Brown first introduced a bill addressing violence in teen dating relationships. The teen dating violence bill (HB 10) became law in June 2010.

Senator Brown’s efforts have garnered numerous awards, including an inaugural “ROSA” Award from the Toledo Board of Community Relations for living a life parallel to the example set by civil rights leader Rosa Parks. The Toledo YWCA honored Senator Brown as a 2007 Milestone Award recipient and WILL/WAND recognized her with a Pacesetter Award the same year. In 2009, Senator Brown received the Legislative Children’s Champion Award from the Children’s Defense Fund of Ohio. Action Ohio presented Senator Brown with their Legislative Leadership Award in October of 2011 for her teen dating violence bill. The African American Legacy Project bestowed Senator Brown with the Kente Stole in 2012. In 2015, ‘Voices for Ohio’s Children’ recognized Sen. Brown as a ‘Legislative Champion for Ohio’s Children.’

Senator Brown is the widow of Willie Brown. She has three daughters, seven grandchildren and three great grandchildren.

Contact Senator Brown
Senate Building
1 Capitol Square, 2nd Floor
Columbus, OH 43215
(614) 466-5204
Email Senator Brown

Assistant Minority Whip – Cecil Thomas – Senate District 9. The assistant minority whip is elected by all members of the Senate and is responsible for assisting the minority whip in monitoring legislation and securing votes for legislation on the floor for the minority party.

Senator Cecil Thomas was elected in November 2014 to serve Ohio’s 9th Senate district, which includes parts of Cincinnati, St. Bernard, Elmwood Place, Norwood, Golf Manor, Hollydale,
cthomas-photo Columbia Township, Silverton and Springfield Township.

A product of a working class family, Senator Thomas was born in rural Alabama in 1952.  At the age of eight, his family moved to Cincinnati settling into the West End community where he attended St. Anthony Catholic School.  After graduating from Withrow High School, he took a job as a public service worker. However, with the desire to attend college he joined the Cincinnati Police Cadet Program, which offered free college tuition.

Upon graduation from the University of Cincinnati, Senator Thomas joined the Cincinnati Police Department where he spent twenty-seven years working throughout all 52 neighborhoods.  In 1976, while on the force, Senator Thomas recognized that there was a lack of minority representation, especially in policy-making decisions.  He decided to take action to ensure that both African Americans and women received an equal opportunity to serve and protect their community. As a result of his actions, the Cincinnati Police Department increased the percentage of African Americans and women on the force to 40% under two federal consent decrees.

Senator Thomas retired for the police force after a successful career in 2000 to assume the Executive Directorship of the Cincinnati Human Relations Commission (CHRC).  During the civil unrest in 2001, he emerged as a leader utilizing his experience as a police officer and community leader to quell the violence. Under his leadership, the Cincinnati Human Relations Commission soared to new heights as he assisted city leaders with restoring community trust while also building a cohesive community and police relations program. Today the Cincinnati Human Relations Commission recognized nationally as one of the premier human relations organizations in the country.

In 2005, Senator Thomas stepped down from his position with the commission to serve as a member of Cincinnati City Council.  He made the choice to run for Cincinnati City Council after a request for additional funding for a successful program to assist young African Americans males was rejected. While on Cincinnati City Council, he served as President Pro Temp and Chairman of the Law and Public Safety Committee where he was successful in convincing City Council to provide funding for several community projects.

His most notable success is the Cincinnati Youth Streetworker Program, which evolved into the Cincinnati Initiative to Reduce Violence (CIRV).  This program provided direct resources and outreach services to at risk youth/young adults in Cincinnati’s most troubled neighborhoods addressing the critical problem of violence and crime. The implementation of the CIRV program resulted in a significant reduction of crime and improved community and police relations to which is now being modeled nationally and internationally.

Senator Thomas is a lifetime member of the Fraternal Order of Police and the Sentinel Police Association, member of the Masonic Gothic Lodge 121, and serves as the Vice President of the Greater Cincinnati Chapter of the National Action Network.

Senator Cecil Thomas has been appointed to serve as Ranking Member of the Senate Criminal Justice Committee and State and Local Committee for the 131st General Assembly.  In addition to his leadership roles, Senator Thomas will also serve on the following committees: Education, Civil Justice, Insurance, Financial Institutions, Finance Subcommittee on Education (K-12) and Finance Subcommittee on Higher Education.

He has been married to Pam Thomas for over thirty years.  They have four adult children and four grandchildren.  They have resided in the community of North Avondale for the past thirty years.

Contact Senator Thomas
Senate Building
1 Capitol Square, Ground Floor
Columbus, OH 43215
(614) 466-5980
Email Senator Thomas


Ohio Democratic Senate Caucus