WARREN, Ohio (WKBN) – Mike O’Brien can fill a page of notebook paper with what he’s accomplished in politics. His fingerprints are all over Warren and Trumbull County. But come January 1, for the first time in 38 years, he will not be holding an elected position.
O’Brien sat in the dining room of his Warren home, surrounded by pictures of his years in politics which started as Warren’s Fourth Ward councilman after being laid off as a jailer in the police department.
“I said, well, I am going to run for city council because they’re the ones who laid me off,” he said.
Reflecting on his career, O’Brien jumped from story to story like how as a young councilman he dealt with a pet lion in his ward.
“We passed the first anti-lion bill in the municipality,” O’Brien said. “We restored the courthouse, built a county jail, remodeled the administration building, constructed the 11th District Court of Appeals, built an agriculture center, instituted 911. Trumbull County did not have 911 at the time and created the bike trail.”
O’Brien would go on to become a Warren Councilman at large, a Trumbull County commissioner, Warren’s Mayor, and a member of the Ohio House of Representatives.
As a Trumbull County commissioner, O’Brien was instrumental in passing the county’s first sales tax. As mayor, he secured the money to build the amphitheater and started the weekly summer concerts featuring tribute bands. Then as a state representative, the focus was technology.
“I was the primary sponsor for the statewide broadband bill. Now, 1 million people in Ohio. In just a few years from now, everyone in the state of Ohio will be connected,” O’Brien said.
For anyone thinking of entering politics, he had this advice.
“My suggestion is be involved in the community first before you get involved in politics.”
O’Brien ran in 30 elections. His only loss was election number 30 to Denny Malloy for Trumbull County commissioner.
“I was running against Mike DeWine, and I was running against JD Vance. I wasn’t running against Denny Malloy. The Democrat ticket was weak,” O’Brien said.
O’Brien talked about the super-majority of Republicans in the Ohio Legislature, saying more gun laws will be passed, along with right-to-work laws and legislation supporting charter schools.
“That’s why it’s important for a Democrat to, on day one, start making relationships with your committee members and then get amendments on bills,” he said.
O’Brien hopes Trumbull County moves forward under the next board of commissioners.
“The only way you can do that is working together. Working together and putting personal differences aside, putting political differences aside and working together.”
As far as the future, Mike O’Brien says he’s received offers from several businesses in the private sector but is also seriously considering running next year for Warren councilman-at-large.