New to office
Seneca East grad represents 82nd District
A 1984 Seneca East High School graduate who grew up in Sycamore and Attica was sworn in this month as a state representative.
Craig Riedel, a Republican who lives in Defiance with his wife, was elected in November to serve the 82nd Ohio House District, which covers Defiance, Paulding, Van Wert and part of Auglaize counties.
Riedel said he grew up in Sycamore before moving to a farm outside Attica in 1976 when he was in fifth grade.
He said he graduated from The Ohio State University with a degree in civil engineering and then started a career at Nucor Steel, first as an engineer and then as a sales representative.
After 27 years in the private sector, Riedel said he felt his life had another calling.
“About five years ago, I started to have this feeling of unrest,” he said. “I had a great job, I enjoyed what I did, but I couldn’t figure out why I was having this feeling.”
Riedel said he and his wife, Danette, felt they were receiving a message from God.
“He had other plans for us. I wasn’t going to spend my entire career with Nucor,” he said. “(God) had another path he wanted me to go on.”
Riedel said he retired from Nucor in June 2015 after discussing a political career with his wife.
“The reason is, I want to help our country, it’s that simple,” he said. “My wife and I feel our government needs more conservative Christian leadership.”
Although his family has lived away from Seneca County for a long time, Riedel said his home always will be in the area, where he learned many of his core values.
“The way you treat people,” Riedel gave as an example. “You treat people with respect and you treat people with kindness. I try and do that everyday.”
Riedel said he also learned the value of hard work.
“I grew up on a farm, you have to work hard,” he said. “You have to put in that effort and that hard work if you want to see good things happen. I bailed hay until the sun went down.”
Riedel tried to apply these values on the campaign trail, where his hard work contributed to a March primary victory over incumbent Tony Burkley. He was unopposed in the November general election.
“What we think put us over the hump, what enabled us to beat the incumbent, was our door-to-door effort,” he said. “In about a five-month period, we got to over 4,600 households.”
Riedel said he thought letting voters meet him and his wife resonated with people.
“They were very appreciative of the effort to come meet them,” he said.
No political experience
Riedel said he had no political experience and initially did not know what office he would seek. He said he assembled a leadership team of seven Christian businessmen from the Defiance area who helped him decide to run for state representative.
Riedel said he thought political inexperience could benefit him in office.
“I am a political outsider. I ran as a political outsider. I ran against a career politician,” he said. “What happens when you’re a career politician, you get in the habits and routine, and you develop blinders. Someone like me, that comes in from the outside that’s not been involved politically, those blinders don’t exist on me.”
Riedel said his private-sector experience could help guide him.
“I’m going to have a perspective much different than a politician,” he said. “We need more people like myself involved and fewer career politicians. Our government needs to run more like a business.”
Riedel said government regulations can cripple businesses.
“I’ll push back against unnecessary and burdensome regulation,” he said.
Riedel said he has others goals for his first term.
“In my opinion, we have way too many laws on the books as it is,” he said, adding that he will focus on deciding if laws should be removed or modified.
Riedel said he believes in limited government, fiscal responsibility and free-market principles.
“My approach as a leader will be to protect our Constitution and defend our religious liberties,” he said. “I’ll do all I can to not allow our taxes to go up any further. I think we pay an abundance in taxes already.”
Riedel said he is grateful for his upbringing.
“I feel lucky I was able to grow up in that part of Ohio,” he said. “Along with that, we love this part of Ohio, too. My wife and I are extremely humbled and honored to have this opportunity to help the state of Ohio and to help our country.”