OUR VIEW: Relaxation without representation

A year ago, State Sen. Niraj Antani, R-Miamisburg, was identified in an investigation by the USA Today Network Ohio Bureau as the state lawmaker with the most traffic citations in the past decade. Antani told the USA Today Network: “I’ve been told I’m a young man in a hurry. With the issues we face, we need someone who’s in a hurry to fix them. However, I do regret and apologize for speeding and will do better in the future.”

He slowed down.

Way down.

A recent Dayton Daily News investigation found that the state senator who represents Dayton and its southwest suburbs in the Ohio General Assembly hasn’t come to work in the Statehouse in months, and has one of the worst attendance records in the Senate.

“I haven’t seen him in Columbus, I haven’t seen him locally. He hasn’t been to a committee, he hasn’t been to a voting session,” Sen. Stephen Huffman, R-Tipp City said. “His office is right next to mine — I haven’t seen him.”

Antani, whose term does not end until Dec. 31 of this year, has missed the last four Senate voting sessions in a streak that started soon after he placed 10th in March’s 11-candidate Republican primary for a U.S. Congressional seat outside his district. He was absent in six consecutive Financial Institutions Committee hearings before being permanently removed by Senate leadership on April 2, the only Republican senator to be permanently removed from a standing committee during this general assembly.

Without Antani showing up to work, the Dayton region has lacked representation not only in committee hearings and floor votes, but also in efforts to tap into hundreds of millions of dollars set aside for local projects. He missed a deadline to submit a list of local projects to Senate leadership to access $350 million in surplus funds set aside for capital improvement projects across the state. Our reporting found that Antani did not meet with local stakeholders about the projects, despite being invited to do so.

“It’s very unfortunate that Senator Antani is not participating in the process and that he hasn’t been at the statehouse for three months, four months,” Huffman said in an interview. “I hope that’s not detrimental to the Miami Valley as we go through this process, but I will try my best as the only senator from Montgomery County to get the best share that the Miami Valley and Montgomery County should get.”

Antani’s party has criticized him for absences before. During his congressional campaign last year, Montgomery County Republican Party Chairman state Rep. Phil Plummer, R-Dayton, described his fellow Republican as “missing in action,” saying Antani doesn’t attend meetings in the district.

“He’s clearly never had a job so he’s got to keep this paycheck, so I couldn’t imagine him resigning,” Plummer said in November. “We just hope that he does his current job and works for the people that voted for him. We haven’t seen him for three years in Montgomery County.”

When this news organization asked about his absences, Antani, 33, said it’s no coincidence that he had a near-perfect voting record for the eight years he spent in the House and the first two years of his Senate term. He blames the bulk of his absences on a frayed relationship with the Senate president, a general ineffectiveness of the Senate and an unsuccessful Congressional campaign.

Antani has been at odds with his party’s leadership in the Senate for some time. When the state last year approved a redistricting plan, Republicans agreed to a plan that flipped Antani’s Republican-leaning district to lean Democratic. Antani has introduced seven bills this General Assembly; only two have been given a hearing.

Antani said that this General Assembly has been “unlike any other General Assembly.” Bills aren’t getting pushed the way they should and concessions are being made in order to bolster Huffman’s campaign for House speaker.

“I didn’t go to the Statehouse and I’m not in public service to make friends. It is to do a job,” Antani said. “To me, I still see this as part of doing the job, right?”


Doing the job means showing up to represent the interests of constituents and our region. Sen. District 6 elected Antani to do this job — a job for which he is still being paid, plus a stipend for his committee seat. His taxpayer-funded $69,757 income is 62.7% higher than the per-capita income of his constituents in his district.

There is little question that this General Assembly has been mired in dysfunction. And while it is understandable that Sen. Antani is frustrated that he can’t meaningfully enact legislation – get in line. Members of the minority party of both houses have been frustrated for years that the Republican-dominated, gerrymandered supermajority has prevented them from carrying out the will of their districts’ voters, yet they continue to show up to work.

Author and Dayton native Fletcher Knebel once said that “Statesmanship is harder than politics. Politics is the art of getting along with people, whereas statesmanship is the art of getting along with politicians.” As a state senator, Antani is not powerless. If he has had grievances with his party’s leadership, the solution isn’t to stay home and pout. If he believes Senate leadership is denying the Dayton region’s lawmakers from properly representing our region, he should be louder about it, not absent.

This editorial board finds Antani’s continued absence inexcusable. His disregard for those who elected him to represent their interests in the Statehouse is unbecoming of a politician, regardless of one’s views on party leadership. We call for Sen. Antani to either immediately return to work or to resign the position so that someone else can faithfully represent our region.

With the issues our region faces, we need someone who’s in a hurry to fix them.

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