YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Between the two of them, Bob Hagan and his wife Michele Lepore-Hagan have represented Youngstown in the Ohio state legislature for 36 straight years — a run that will end on Jan. 3. Sitting in the living room of their Youngstown home, the Hagans — both Democrats — talked about the current Republican dominance of politics in Ohio.
“I saw the beginnings of it. I saw it, the last part that I was in the statehouse. I could feel there was some arrogance that was permeating the place,” Bob said.
Michelle replaced Bob as state representative in 2015 as Donald Trump was running for president.
“There was a real divisiveness that started in the legislature. I would tell Bobby things and he would be completely surprised. A loss of decorum, the loss of a moral compass. Just being mean and disrespectful to each other, and it grew. It grew in eight years,” Michele said.
“It was ugly. When she came home, she cried. She cried about how she was treated. She cried about how she fought for her constituents,” Bob said.
“I cried over the fact, what we did to women in this state and how we took away their freedoms,” Michele said.
Bob was also complimentary of Michele’s work in removing Larry Householder as speaker of the House after he was accused of being part of a $60 million bribery case.
“It was her and one other legislature that pushed Democrats and Republicans to call for the vote. It was Michele Lepore-Hagan that did that and I’m extremely proud because that was corrupting the entire process of democracy,” Bob said.
Both agreed more women need to be involved in politics, and their reasoning was simple.
Michele: “We make better legislators.”
Bob: “I agree with that.”
Reporter Stan Boney: “You do?”
Bob: “I absolutely agree with that.”
Stan: “Why so?”
Bob: “I think that there’s more passion and compassion. I think that intertwined is their ability to understand, as she’s indicated, what home life is all about. What it’s like on the street.”
Bob said he would not run again, though he will continue to speak about what he thinks is wrong and right. Michele, however, says she would run again if the right time and right position were available.