|Member of the Ohio House of Representatives
from the 17th district
January 3, 1999 – December 31, 2006
|Preceded by||Mike Wise|
|Succeeded by||Josh Mandel|
|Born||May 5, 1965
St. Luke's Hospital Cleveland, Ohio
|Alma mater||The Ohio State University, B.A. 1987|
|Profession||Executive Director, The Ohio State Board of Cosmetology|
James Peter Trakas (born May 5, 1965, Cleveland, Ohio) is the Chief Executive Officer of American Online Learning Center, a behavioral corrective educational firm providing services with Courts, and other institutions and former Executive Director of The Ohio State Board of Cosmetology and a former member of the Ohio House of Representatives, and was the Republican nominee for the United States House of Representatives in Ohio's 10th congressional district in 2008. Previous to his public service, Trakas worked for Allied Color Industries, Inc. in Broadview Hts., Ohio in various positions, including Corporate Materials Manager. He is married to Anne Marie (Kennedy) Trakas and resides in Independence, Ohio.
Trakas founded the firm after he was asked to resign by Kasich Administration Officials as the Executive Director of The Ohio State Board of Cosmetology on August 13, 2013, the same day the state's inspector general issued a report that found that Trakas improperly involved himself in disciplinary action against a central Ohio salon, and told the owners he could make a fine "go away" if they would not terminate a female employee. The report said that Trakas did not violate any laws or rules of the state, and asked the Board of Cosmotology to determine an appropriate sanction. The Board had previously been made aware of the incident and chosen not to act at its July, 2012 Board Meeting. The salon in question had fired an independent contractor stylist in retaliation for her mother having asked for an investigation into improper venting of fumes at the salon. Trakas felt that this was a retaliatory measure and worked to defend the integrity of the Board's investigatory process believing it unfair to fire the woman over a referral to the state agency for investigation. The inspector general's report stated that "[Trakas's] actions in this matter were not in accordance with standards of proper governmental conduct as are commonly accepted."  Trakas is the third high profile appointee/nominee of Governor John Kasich who has had to resign from his appointment due to improper actions. http://watchdog.ohio.gov/Investigations/2013Investigations.aspx
Trakas is a 1987 graduate of The Ohio State University where he earned a B.A. in Social and Behavioral Sciences. He graduated from Independence High School in Independence, Ohio in 1983, and also pursued continuing education at The University of Akron's Polymer Institute while working for Allied Color.
In 1998, Trakas was elected to the Ohio House of Representatives representing the 15th district, later renumbered the 17th district, where he served until 2007. As State Representative Trakas served two terms as House Majority Whip, and was a member of the Finance and Appropriations Committee. During Trakas' tenure, he was awarded numerous awards by civic and ethnic organizations, abolished the state's electric chair, and was the Legislative father of Ohio's high technology jobs initiative, and focused on economic development and educational issues, particularly supporting suburban and high producing school districts and academic excellence. A champion of higher education, Trakas' work led to regional collaborations between colleges and universities, helping to lower costs through his sponsorship of the Northern Ohio Higher Educational Collaboration Initiative. All told, he authored 14 bills into Ohio law, including the jobs producing Third Frontier Program.
Jim Trakas was the Republican nominee for the United States House of Representatives in Ohio's 10th congressional district, unsuccessfully challenging incumbent Democrat Dennis Kucinich. His 110,000 votes was the most of any Republican challenger to Kucinich, the former Cleveland mayor. He was named executive director of the Ohio State Board of Cosmetology on January 24, 2011, and led the agency in offering its own test to state licensees, saving 10% of the agency budget, a task that was recognized in 2012 with the "Governor's Award for Employee Excellence" by Ohio Governor John R. Kasich.
Birth and family
Trakas, a second generation Greek-American, was born two months prematurely in 1965 to Kathy L. (Kacludis) Trakas and Peter W. Trakas. His father had served as an SSgt. in the 95th Infantry Division, U.S. Third Army, in World War II, and was President of St. Paul Greek Orthodox Church in North Royalton, Ohio. Kathy Trakas was a Sunday school teacher and volunteer in church activities. The Trakas family included Bruce William Trakas (b. May 19, 1953) and Rhonee S. Iula (b. April 17, 1957). Mr. Trakas worked as an industrial engineer and corporate materials manager in heavy industry in the Cleveland area as well as volunteering in numerous civic, religious, cultural, and Republican political associations. Mrs. Trakas was a stay at home mother, and worked for the Veterans Administration during and after WWII, and in industry as an accounts payable clerk for Opus Computer Systems and Allied Color Industries.
Trakas was raised in Independence, Ohio, a heavily ethnic suburb of Cleveland. He grew up with strong patriotic and nationalist views, and was active, like his family in his church. He served as an altar boy for ten years, and is a tonsured Reader of The Orthodox Church.
Young Jim ran for Student Council in 2nd Grade and always took an interest in politics and civics, excelling in social studies, and average in mathematics and science. He was president of his 8th grade class at Independence Middle School, and was a member of IHS Student Council. Trakas served as Lt. Governor of Division 24 of Key Club in High School.
Peter Trakas involved his son in local political campaigns in Independence, and Jim was interested in civics. Jim volunteered in various political campaigns as a youth, always knocking on doors for campaigns, attending events, and educating voters on his candidate's stands on issues.
His father took a strong interest in him, and would take him to sporting events at Cleveland Municipal Stadium, political gatherings, and historic family vacations and trips. The Trakas family valued military service and patriotic venues, and every summer went on a trip to an historic location.
As a young man, Trakas wanted to attend The United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, but had flat feet and could not meet the military's rigorous demands of the Academy. He always wanted to attend The Ohio State University, and was accepted to the school as part of the incoming class of 1987 in September 1983.
In high school, Trakas was Editor of The Spectator, school newspaper, was President of Junior Council on World Affairs, played junior varsity baseball and basketball, and was manager of the varsity baseball team when he was injured in practice in 1981. Having worked as a newspaper delivery boy for The Cleveland Press and Plain Dealer, Trakas worked through his high school years as a custodian for the school district, and a spotter for the newspapers during football season. Trakas run and lost to be student body president in 1982.
Young Trakas excelled at social studies and civics, and learned much from two of his history teachers in school, Mr. Harold Daniels and Mr. Fred N. Schuld. Both men had an influence on his later decisions to seek public office.
On his high school graduation day, June 5, 1983, Trakas gave one of the class addresses entitled "Our Noble Undertaking" drawing parallels to the Normandy Invasion and the speech that General Dwight D. Eisenhower gave to the invasion troops on that day in 1944.
Trakas was a political science major at Ohio State, and became immersed in Buckeye State politics. He was treasurer and then twice elected president of The Ohio State College Republicans. It was at this time that Trakas would meet lifelong friends who would be instrumental in his career.
In 1985, Trakas became a page in The Ohio State Senate, and also volunteered for the campaigns of State Representative Tom Van Meter (R-Ashland), State Senator Gary C. Suhadolnik (R-Parma Hts.) and former Governor James A. Rhodes. Trakas began forming ideas about his own stands on issues. He joined the Board of United Conservatives of Ohio, became involved in the anti-communist freedom movements of the era, including support of Afghan and Nicaraguan rebels.
Trakas graduated from Ohio State on September 3, 1987, along with a young lady that he did not know, Anne Marie Kennedy (b. July 25, 1964) of Bexley, Ohio, whom he would later meet and marry on October 14, 2006.
Upon graduation, Trakas ran for the Independence Board of Education while working third shift at Allied Color. He lost the race by 31 votes to incumbent members of the Board, but learned a lesson in grassroots politics. Trakas did not work hard enough, and decided that the next time he ran for office, he would knock on every door in the community, which he did to be elected to City Council in 1992. Trakas would knock on over 200,000 doors in the course of his elected career.
In his two terms on City Council, Trakas supported the city's efforts at recycling, revamping its purchasing policy on vehicles, sponsored the ordinance that named Public Square as "Veterans Plaza" and championed street and sidewalk improvements.
In 1996, he quit his job at Allied Color, and ran for Chairman of The Republican Party of Cuyahoga County. He made phone calls to every Central Committee Member, appeared at scores of events, and was supported by a group called "Grassroots '96" An underdog, Trakas was elected at the age of 31 to the position by 15 votes over one term incumbent Chairman Paul Russo on May 10, 1996.
Trakas served one term as Chairman and was elected a Member of The Cuyahoga County Board of Elections. Trakas never served in that capacity though, when State Representative Mike Wise (R-15) of Chagrin Falls chose to run for Cuyahoga County Auditor in 1998, and Trakas ran for State Representative in the district.
Trakas was unable to effectively run the Republican Party while also serving in The House, and Mike Wise was elected Chairman of The Executive Committee of the party, while Trakas continued as Central Committee Chairman until his resignation in 2005. Hampered by a $750,000 debt, Trakas and Wise helped build a party structure, eventually paid off the debt, and concentrated efforts at winning non-partisan, suburban, and statewide races at a time when Democrats outnumbered Republicans by a 3:1 ratio in Cuyahoga County.
In 2003 Trakas and Wise envisioned a change in the governance structure of Cuyahoga County Government and proposed switching from the traditional three commissioner and "row office" format, to an elected singular County Executive and County Council. Trakas and Wise were outmaneuvered by Jimmy Dimora, Chairman of the Cuyahoga County Democratic Party, who helped shut down financial resources for the initiative campaign from Cleveland's business community and establishment, and The Plain Dealer, who felt that an initiative tied to the Republican Party would fail. A virtually identical initiative was put forth by a largely Democratic dominated reform effort in 2009, and passed by voters amidst a major scandal in 2008-2010 involving Dimora and major Democratic county elected figures.
Trakas was a visible Chairman and spokesman for Republican causes. He gave hundreds of speeches and attended hundreds of gatherings to rally support for and recruit Republican candidates for public office.
Trakas served as House Majority Whip from 2001-2004. Under the Speakership of Speaker of The House Larry Householder (R-Glenford) Trakas helped to count votes for the Republican agenda, and worked as a liaison with members to leadership.
In 2002, Trakas had a falling out with Householder over a variety of issues, some of which were attached to a Federal probe of Householder in 2003-2004. Trakas was stripped of his committee assignments in August 2002, but later was re-elected to leadership and his assignments restored.
As a Legislator, Trakas took a parochial view of Ohio politics, and worked to represent North East Ohio. He took a particular interest in Ohio manufacturing, and sponsored and co-sponsored many pieces of legislation dealing with supporting Ohio industry. When The Board of Regents established "The Ohio Plan" to create a nexus between ideas at state universities that could become industries and create jobs, the state lacked the $50 million requested funding for the program.
Trakas sought and gained permission from Speaker Householder to attempt to expand "The Ohio Plan" by creating a $2 billion ballot initiative that would later be known as The Third Frontier Initiative. Trakas sponsored meetings between industry leaders, higher education, and the state Department of Development. Trakas worked the issue hard, and the ultimate enabling legislation for the ballot initiative was carried by Rep. Tom Patton (R-18) of Strongsville. When the initiative lost at the polls in 2003, Trakas introduced legislation to bring back the initiative, and it eventually passed by the voters of Ohio.
As Majority Whip and a Member of the House Finance Committee, Trakas worked to allocate monies back to his district, created LASER a legislative working group to support high performing schools in property tax wealthy districts, and sought unsuccessfully to change the state's school funding plan emphasis on supporting rural and innercity schools to the detriment of suburban education. He also championed the Arts and many ethnic civic and social service organizations in the State's Capital Improvement Budget.
Trakas ran for Ohio Secretary of State in 2005, but in March 2006, withdrew as a candidate at the request of The Ohio Republican Party, who deemed Hamilton County Clerk of Courts Greg Hartmann a stronger candidate.
Trakas worked for Nature Stone Floors and Lorain County Community College's Public Services Institute in 2007. He later formed two consulting companies, Excellence Solutions of Ohio and AmeriBrite Management Solutions to serve various clients in business and politics, including the Independent Campaign of Ken Lanci for Cuyahoga County Executive in 2010.
Trakas was appointed by The State Board of Cosmetology to be its Executive Director in 2011.
In 2013, Trakas founded American Online Learning Center as to provide services to Courts for diversion and probation programs for moderate to low risk offenders. www.AmericanOLC.com
OHIO STATE DEFENSE FORCE
Trakas serves as a 2 LT and Public Affairs Officer with The 4th Civil Support and Sustainment Brigade, Ohio Military Reserve. He is assigned to Headquarters, Headquarters Company at Haurbrich Armory in Columbus, Ohio. http://ohmr.ohio.gov/
- Speakers > Jim Trakas The City Club of Cleveland. January 28, 2008. Retrieved March 19, 2008
- The Plain Dealer, Election Special
- Naymik, Mark (2011-01-21). "Gov. John Kasich hires campaign volunteer and former GOP official Jim Trakas". The Plain Dealer. Retrieved 2013-08-13.
- Jim Trakas' campaign site, www.jimtrakas,org, Archived Nov 12,2008
- Ohio State Board of Cosmetology web site