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O’Farrell Takes Over

June 21, 2010
By JOSELYN KING Political Writer

He's only been in office for a short time, but it's been busy for new Ohio Rep. Joshua O'Farrell.

Among other events, the Democrat's entry into public office was greeted by severe storms hitting near his home community of New Philadelphia, Ohio. The winds forced him to hit the ground running into public service.

It was just on May 17 that O'Farrell, 28, graduated from the Wake Forest University School of Law.

Five days before - on May 12 - former Ohio Rep. Allan Sayre, D-New Philadelphia, announced he was resigning the office to take a job as chief deputy auditor for Tuscarawas County.

The Ohio House Democratic Caucus soon after selected O'Farrell, the son of Tuscarawas County Common Pleas Court Judge Edward O'Farrell, to fill Sayre's 96th District seat. O'Farrell was sworn into office June 2.

"It's been a worthwhile experience," he said. "I was sworn in on Wednesday. And Thursday we were in session all day until 4 a.m. Friday morning.

"Then there was the flooding and tornadoes on Saturday. I went out on Sunday and surveyed the damage. The I toured the Skyline (manufactured homes) plant that was heavily damaged."

O'Farrell surveyed much of the damage alongside Jim Harrison, the Sugarcreek, Ohio, fire chief who also was among those considered for the 96th District seat.

The 96th District encompasses all of Harrison County, the western part of Belmont County and much of Tuscarawas County.

O'Farrell has lived outside the area in more recent years while getting his undergraduate degree at Notre Dame in Indiana, working in Oklahoma and attending law school at Wake Forest in North Carolina.

But he said it was always his intention to return to New Philadelphia with his family, which includes wife, Christin, and infant son, Liam.

"My father is a judge, and I saw firsthand the difference one person could make in a community," O'Farrell said. "I want to do everything I can do to make it a better place for son Liam. I can't think of any way better to do this.

"We have a serious problem with people in rural areas, graduating then leaving - and rarely do they return. I returned to this area because I love it. I want to do everything in my power to make it a better place. The people of this area have made me what I am today," he said.

O'Farrell's mother, May, is a secretary at Carraway High School.

He noted that he has had a job and worked ever since his last day of eighth grade, when his father told him to go knock on the door of a neighbor - a landscaper - and ask if he would hire him for the summer. O'Farrell would work throughout high school for the neighbor.

An athlete, O'Farrell later would have jobs as a personal trainer and tennis pro, and he continues to train for distance running. Last fall he participated in a distance race in Tuscarawas County.

O'Farrell said he wasn't able to participate in the Ogden 20K Classic this year in Wheeling, but that he is anxious to do so next year.

He will face Republican Alan Landis of New Philadelphia in the Nov. 2 general election.

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