Biographical Sketch

Born in Euclid, Ohio on April 30, 1949, Mary Jo Kilroy grew up in Cleveland as a daughter of a pipe fitter.  She worked her way through college, graduating from Cleveland State University in 1977 with a degree in political science.  In 1980, she earned a J.D. from The Ohio State University College of Law.  Following graduation she established the Columbus, Ohio law firm of Handelman and Kilroy with her husband, Robert Handelman.

Kilroy entered her career in public service in 1991 by winning one of four open seats on the Board of the Columbus Public Schools contested by a field of eighteen candidates.  Kilroy served two terms on the board, including a period as board president during her eighth and final year on the board beginning on January 4, 1999.  In January 2000, Kilroy became one of two Democratic Party candidates for the three member Franklin County Board of Commissioners.  Her election victory in November made her the first Democratic commissioner on the board in eight years.  She won re-election to the Board of Commissioners in 2004, and served as board president from 2005 to 2008.

In 2006, Kilroy challenged Deborah Pryce, the Republican Party incumbent, in a campaign for the Ohio 15th District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.  In a close race that drew national attention, Pryce edged Kilroy by a margin of less than 1100 votes.  Following Representative Pryce’s announcement in August 2007 that she would not seek reelection in 2008, Kilroy again ran as the Democratic nominee for the Ohio 15th District.  In another closely watched campaign, Kilroy beat the Republican Party candidate, Steve Stivers, by slightly more than 2500 votes.  In January 2009, Congresswoman Kilroy became the first Democrat to represent the 15th Ohio Congressional District in more than forty years.

In the 111th Congress (2009-2010), Kilroy served on the House Committee on Financial Services and the House Committee on Homeland Security.  As a member of the Financial Services Committee, and also as one of two freshman representatives on the Wall Street Reform Conference Committee, Kilroy introduced numerous amendments and provisions pertaining to consumer protections and small businesses that ultimately passed into law as part of H.R. 4173, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2009 and H.R. 5297, the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010.  A member of the House Progressive Caucus, during her term in office Kilroy supported all major Democratic measures, including the federal stimulus package, cap and trade carbon emissions regulations, and legislation against gender discrimination in salaries.  She also was a strong advocate for health care reform and an early promoter of President Barack Obama’s legislative initiative passed on March 23, 2010 as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Congresswoman Kilroy again faced Steve Stivers as the Republican Party candidate during her  reelection campaign in 2010.  As a Democrat in an historically Republican district, during the campaign Kilroy met with an active backlash by voters against the policies of the Obama administration.  She lost the election to Stivers by a margin of 30,000 votes.  Kilroy again ran for office in 2012 during the Democratic primary for the newly configured 3rd Ohio District, but lost to Joyce Beatty, the eventual winner of the district seat in the November elections.