State Rep. Thomas West (D-Canton) took the oath of office Monday during the opening session of the 133rd Ohio General Assembly at the Ohio Statehouse, starting his second term as a state lawmaker.

“I am deeply humbled and honored to serve the people of Ohio House District 49 for another term,” said West. “It’s been a tough year for many, as wages remain stagnant, families work several jobs just to make ends meet and opioids continue to ravage our communities. My plan is to continue drafting and supporting legislation that gives all Ohioans the chance to live a life of dignity and making sure the People’s House is accessible to everyone.”

To begin the 133rd session of the House, Rep. West voted on a number of measures that allow the House to officially begin business, including the election of House Speaker Larry Householder (R-Glenford), and the approval of resolutions related to honoring the American flag during session, the creation of new House rules, and the administration of House personnel.

“I am excited to work with leaders and members from both sides of the aisles on issues that matter most to everyday Ohioans,” said West. “With change comes the opportunity to be better than we were and I look forward to working with people from diverse backgrounds to come up with solutions to some of our state’s most pressing issues and challenges.”

West also joined a joint session of all Ohio House and Senate members to officially validate the results of Ohio’s Nov. election for governor, attorney general, auditor of state, secretary of state, and treasurer of state.

West, the first African American elected from Stark County as a state legislator, will continue to serve the citizens in Canton, Canton Township, Pike Township, Bethlehem Township, the majority of Massillon, and small parts of southern Plain Township. He is a licensed social worker, and served as a Canton city councilman for 13 years prior to his November 2016 election to the Statehouse.

During the 132nd General Assembly, West worked on fighting for quality, affordable healthcare for all Ohioans by shepherding bipartisan legislation to lower the cost of prescription drugs through the Ohio House, pushing for commonsense gun safety measures to protect communities from gun violence and being an outspoken advocate for mental health and addiction organizations who continue to face challenges in light of the Ohio Department of Medicaid’s Behavioral Health Redesign.

Rep. West’s priorities for the 133rd General Assembly include helping prisons and other correctional facilities better serve inmates with mental health issues and preventing people with mental health issues from ending up in prisons in the first place. West also plans on strengthening workforce development and apprenticeship programs, continuing the fight to lower prescription drug prices and improving access to healthcare.

Poised to serve as the first vice president of the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus, Rep. West intends to work on issues affecting underserved populations across the state, such as infant mortality and other disparities in health outcomes.

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