Q&A with Ohio State Representative Jonathan Dever - July 2016
Rep. Jonathan Dever, A&S ’97, is serving his first term as an Ohio state representative from the 28th House District, which includes the northern suburbs of Hamilton County (Blue Ash, Deer Park, Evendale, Forest Park, Glendale, Greenhills, Madeira, Montgomery, Reading, Sharonville, Springdale, parts of Springfield Township, and Sycamore Township). The founder of the Dever Law Firm located in West Chester. He and his wife, Martha, live in Madeira with their two sons. He and his family attend Hope Church where he serves as a financial coach to families in need of advice.
What made you run for public office?
Over time I have discovered that our public life is as important — and sometimes more important — than our private life. If we are not careful, all of the freedoms we enjoy can be taken away in a matter of seconds. If you are truly looking to improve the lives of others, and you can put aside pettiness, there is a real chance to do great things. This belief made me want to run for public office and initiate real change.
What is a daily routine for a state legislator?
The routine depends on whether I am in Columbus or the district. During a day in Columbus, I typically start at 8:00 a.m. or earlier with meetings throughout the morning, a working lunch, and committees or session for the better part of the afternoon. During the evening hours I continue with meetings, receptions, and often a caucus where members are able to discuss pending legislation. A day in the district tends to be filled with constituent meetings, public events (grand openings, press conferences, tours of businesses and organizations), as well as meetings for my law practice and as much family time as possible.
What is your biggest goal as a legislator?
Simply, to be effective.
What is the toughest part about being a legislator?
Being away from family. When we are in session, we are actively away from home 2-3 days a week. Then when we return to our districts we are in meetings with constituents, balancing our careers outside of the legislature, and campaigning. Evenings and weekends are often spent with constituents, whereas most people traditionally spend them with family and friends.
Where were you born?
I was born in Tacoma, Wash., as my father (a Cincinnati native), was stationed at Fort Lewis Military Base during the Vietnam Conflict. After he received an honorable discharge, the family moved back home to Cincinnati before my first birthday.
What has been your higher education experience?
I graduated with a B.A. in political science from UC and later earned a master’s industrial labor relations from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Subsequently I earned my Juris Doctorate from Capital University Law School. During various times in my studies, I spent time abroad at the Adam Mischevich University in Poland and studying in Oxford, UK.
What was your most fulfilling job(s) in college?
During college I worked three jobs. None of them were ideal, but they allowed me to graduate debt-free and taught me how to balance work and education.
What activities did you participate in at UC? And what was your favorite college memory?
I was an active member of Phi Delta Theta and was the IFC delegate. My favorite memory would have to be the Phi Delta Theta Belly Flop at the Digby House. The best flop of the day was from a Chi O who handily beat out the competition.
What has constituted your professional life prior to serving in the Ohio legislature?
Once I graduated law school, I immediately began practicing law and in July 2002 started the Dever Law Firm. I continue to practice law.
In general, how is UC viewed by state legislators?
Throughout this General Assembly, I believe UC has done a great job of communicating its short and long term goals for higher education. Granted, I may be a bit biased since I’m a Bearcat.
How did your UC experience help prepare you for your current role?
The experiences I had at UC, working in politics across Hamilton County and the state of Ohio, sparked a great interest in the political process and campaigning. I also studied a great deal about political history, which helped to frame how to properly approach public policy.
What do you feel is the most exciting thing about UC today?
UC has done a tremendous job reaching out to its student body and the Cincinnati business community, creating a unique culture. It is quickly becoming a destination for higher education, and its future is bright.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I see myself still married to the love of my life, watching my oldest head off to college and my youngest apply. I look forward to scheduling my priorities rather than prioritizing my schedule. Most importantly, I hope to be surrounding myself with people who are positive, learned and purposeful.