After more than a year of turmoil and infighting, three challengers won election to the State Teachers Retirement System of Ohio board, unseating three incumbents, the pension fund announced Saturday.
Steven Foreman and Julie Sellers easily captured the two seats representing current teachers, beating out Jeffrey Rhodes and Robert McFee. Elizabeth Jones beat incumbent Rita Walters for a seat representing retirees.
An anonymous group backed the three challengers via a website, post card mailers and billboards. And STRSWatchdogs.org, a grassroots group of retirees and teachers, endorsed the three new candidates.
Foreman, a Zanesville city councilman and assistant superintendent for Zanesville City Schools, said “I am so proud of Ohio’s educators, regardless of their choice in this election. Overall, throughout this campaign, I have witnessed a greater understanding on their part of the importance of being informed and inquisitive. I believe that many are frustrated by a lack of transparency to the point that they just give up. With three new members of the STRS board, this is about to change. It is time to disrupt the status quo.”
STRS Ohio pension board has had its share of tension
The 11-member board, which oversees nearly $100 billion invested on behalf of 500,000 Ohioans, has been roiled in controversies and in-fighting. In November, the board debated whether to invest up to $65 billion into a novel partnership advocated by two current and one former board member.
Former Franklin County treasurer Wade Steen, retired economics professor Rudy Fichtenbaum — both current board members — and former board member Bob Stein suggested that STRS Ohio explore going into business with QED Management LLC and name the partnership Ohio AI.
Backers of the QED partnership claimed their plan could bring back the cost of living allowances, chop contribution rates, lower investment fees and involve little financial risk. McFee and Walters opposed it.
Jones, Foreman and Sellers’ terms on the board begin Sept. 1 and will end Aug. 31, 2026.
Jones, Sellers and FixMyPension.org did not file campaign finance reports with the Ohio Secretary of State. Reports are required if candidates or organizations raise or spend more than $1,000.
STRS mailed out 470,000 ballots for the election of three board members. A little more than 101,000 ballots were cast.
Ohio has five statewide public pension systems. Public employees in Ohio do not contribute to Social Security.
Laura Bischoff is a reporter for the USA TODAY Network Ohio Bureau, which serves the Columbus Dispatch, Cincinnati Enquirer, Akron Beacon Journal and 18 other affiliated news organizations across Ohio.
This article originally appeared on The Columbus Dispatch: Steve Foreman to ‘disrupt status quo’ at Ohio teachers pension fund